Qiu Zhijie (B. 1969), Writing the "Orchid Pavilion Preface" One Thousand Times. Photo Sotheby's
black and white photograph and video. Each photo titled in English and numbered 5/5; DVD signed in Pinyin and Chinese and numbered 9/25. Executed in 1990-1995. Each photo: 65 by 149.8 cm,; 25 5/8 by 59 in. video duration: 35 mins. Estimate 240,000—300,000 HKD. Lot Sold 800,000 HKD
PROVENANCE: Galerie Loft, Paris and Hong Kong
EXHIBITED: USA, New York, Asia Society Galleries and PS1 Contemporary Art Center; San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco; Seattle, Tacoma Art Museum and the Henry Art Gallery; Mexico, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo; China, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Inside Out - New Chinese Art, 1998-2000, plate 8
Guangzhou, Guangdong Museum of Art, The First Guangzhou Triennial: Reinterpretation: A Decade of Experimental Chinese Art (1990-2000), 2002, pp.150-151
LITERATURE AND REFERENCES: Lü Peng, 90's Art China 1990-1999, Hunan Fine Art Publishing House, 2000, p. 279
Wu Hung ed., Chinese Art at the Crossroads: Between Past and Future, Between East and West, New Art Media, Hong Kong, 2001, p. 97
Chang Tsong-Zung, Michel Nuridsany, Made by Chinese, Galerie Enrico Navarra, Paris, France, 2001, p.115
Britta Erickson, On The Edge:. Contemporary Chinese Artists Encounter The West, Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, Stanford, USA, 2003, p. 76
Wu Hung, Art and Exhibition- Wu Hung on Contemporary Chinese Art, Lingnan Fine Art Publishing, 2005, p. 51
Lu Hong, Crossing Boundaries: China Avant-Garde Art 1979-2004, Hebei Fine Art Publishing House, China, 2006, p. 250
Gao Song Yin, Qiu Zhijie, Sichuan Fine Arts Publishing House, China, 2007, pp. 62-63
Richard Vine, New China New Art, Prestel, Munich, Germany, 2008, p. 93
The Real Thing: Contemporary Art From China, Tate Liverpool, U.K., 2007, p. 96
Lü Peng, A History of Art in Twentieth Century China, Peking University Press, Beijing, China, 2009, p. 1024
NOTE: Please note that apart from the large size on offer, the work has been created in medium sizes (48 by 100 cm) and small sizes (28 by 60cm) as well. Both of these are made into editions of 10. The DVD, alternately, comes in an edition of 25 as every set of prints, regardless of size, is accompanied with its own disc.
QIU ZHIJIE. Qiu Zhijie straddles the distinction between humanist artistic practice focused on the aesthetic legacies of Chinese tradition and more critical dialogues with the political and theoretical themes common to the art of the late modern era, contributing independently to both discourses and doing much to bridge their value systems. Working primarily in lens based media on the one hand and calligraphic brushwork on the other, the notion of technique becomes an explicitly and inherently referential framing device that serves to focus in on and dissect the much broader movements of implicit cultural systems of ideology. At stake here is the relationship between individual agency and the forces of the universe, the latter interpreted through a nuanced political view of culture writ large and the former motivated by the transience of choice and behavior. Exhibited in major public exhibitions including the Chinese national pavilion of the "Venice Biennale" (2009), the "Guangzhou Triennial" (2008, 2002), and the "São Paulo Biennial" (2002), Qiu first emerged in the seminal exhibition "China's New Art, Post-1989" (1993) and has also served as a writer, historian, and curator, most notably of the "Post-Sense Sensibility Series of Exhibitions" (1999-2003). Generally speaking, his practice sets out from the post-humanist rejection of utopian ideology that characterized the early 1990s and extends into a research based re-evaluation of historical meaning through transformative aesthetics of media.
The photograph Writing the "Orchid Pavilion Preface" One Thousand Times documents an extensive performative action during which Qiu Zhijie wrote out in brush and ink a short piece of improvisational literature describing a gathering of the literati commonly ascribed to Wang Xizhi (AD 303-361), preserved in later generations as an outstanding calligraphic exemplar. Over the course of several years Qiu copied the 324 characters of the script some 1000 times in black ink on a single sheet of white paper, making everything following the first 50 iterations—approximately speaking—all but illegible. In the first of the five images contained in this work a single iteration sits on clean paper while the final component appears as a layer of pure black pigment; the three intervening pieces mark various states of this transition, also visible in a video used to record the process and in the body of the resulting object soaked through with ink. The artist's gesture is a poetic one positioned at a major turning point in his practice, growing out of his earlier interest in physical endurance and repetition, but also signals a turn toward his ensuing work with the place of the aesthetics of classical Chinese culture within the contemporary mode. In this reading the illegible paper implies that dedication to the literary tradition is always, eventually, a destructive proposition, but also links the body of the artist to this very heritage in a troubling and obscure way. Artistic practice is transformed into a trivial and repetitive use of time and materials, essentially bracketing off the existence of the artist and calling to the foreground of perception his materials and tools; here it is the camera and brush that conspire to produce this highly representative vision of culture made immanent.
Sotheby's. The Ullens Collection - The Nascence of Avant Garde China. 03 Apr 11. Hong Kong www.sothebys.com