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Hanart TZ Gallery
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Hanart TZ Gallery at Art Basel 2014
by Hanart TZ Gallery
Location: Booth R1, Hall 2, Messe Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Artist(s): QIU Zhi Jie
Date: 19 Jun - 22 Jun 2014

The inspiration for this work comes from an anonymous painting made during Mid to Late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The painting depicts the boisterous street scene near the Confucian Temple during Lantern Festival in Nanjing. Unlike its more celebrated predecessor, “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” by Zhang Zheduan made in the Song Dynasty (11th to 12th century), this painting not only depicts different walks of life, but also takes a particular interest in activities of literati scholars.

Qiu Zhijie has unraveled the fabrics of this work by effectively using methods adopted from the archaeology of knowledge. He excavates the textual and iconographic resources of traditional culture, and reinterprets this information from the experience of contemporary life. This approach departs from the paradigm of most western contemporary art, and is instructive for developing creative thinking based on ones own cultural references.

From this historical genre painting Qiu Zhijie has distilled what he calls the “DNA of history”. The DNA elements may be archetypal characters such as child emperor, deposed empress, storyteller, fortune-teller, attendant and country-gentry; or they may be things, such as fortress, alchemist potion, secret document or battle signal. The artist has embedded numerous symbolic references in this works, and they are hidden codes left for viewers to decipher.

Qiu Zhijie claims that: “History presents a finite collection of character types, and a limited number of narratives. Episodes that appear to repeat themselves in different historical eras are shockingly similar, which gives the illusion of repeating cycles of time. The nature of power does not change, and it invariably makes the powerful overlook danger. Food and land are always a matter of life and death. When there is a lack of excuse for strife, vengeance is never far from the scene. The ambitious are never far from sites of power, and great beauty are often the root of trouble. We had femme fatale like Diao Chan, Zhao Feinan and Yang Yuhuan in the past, but they still come around in every age. Poets inevitably insert themselves in these stories, and their writings last longer than their executioners. In each era, the secret of its time is told in riddles by the mad, yet they do not make sense in their time.

The first phase of this project was launched at the 2010 Shanghai Biennale by Qiu Zhijie, and continues to be developed.

-Hanart TZ Gallery

Image: © Qiu Zhijie
Courtesy of the artist and Hanart TZ Gallery

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