Qiu Xiaofei is a young artist, born in 1977 in northeastern China’s Haerbin, who studied oil painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts until his graduation in 2002.
Qiu Xiaofei's artistic practice, which includes oil and watercolor painting, three-dimensional painting-sculpture, and installation, uniquely articulates the relationship between concept and aesthetics. His early work is largely concerned with the relationship between memory and history, the subjective nature of lived experience, the whimsical qualities of childhood, and the role of materiality in perception; his most recent work contemplates the power relations of art history, the theorization of the spectacle, and the work of the basic psychoanalytic apparatuses.
His paintings recall a dreamlike and blurry state of memory that bears only an impressionistic relationship to reality. Many are painted from photographs of the artist's own childhood, but the connection to history is more disjunctive than mimetic; indeed, the artist's remembrances bear a dauntingly complex relationship to the reproduction of either the real or the imagined image. Qiu Xiaofei expands these explorations in his sculptural paintings, which involve objects, usually toys or memories from an era already past, sculpted out of fiberglass and plastic and then painted over, lending them an altogether painterly appearance.
Qiu's work, however, moves far beyond any simple longing for the past, and even moves beyond a meditation on nostalgia for a time that never existed. Rather, these paintings, sculptures, and installations represent a complicated attempt to tease out precisely how experience is filtered through perception, how these perceptions are warped by time, how memory recall again filters experience, and how all of these processes together form the intertwining threads of the reality of a time that has passed.
His latest installation work pushes beyond his own experience into the realm of the confrontational; the nature of perception and experience are still at stake, but the new works additionally interrogate broader themes of power, media, and social pressure. The tactics most commonly used here are borrowed from surrealism. Qiu Xiaofei has become especially interested in creating an artistic space for the negotiation of the notions of authenticity and specularity raised first by Magritte and later debated by Foucault, as made evident in the rich layers of meaning in works as diverse as his early paintings of mass media products and newer massive building blocks.