Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas


  • Qiu Anxiong: New Book of Mountains and Seas
  • 20-Feb-2010 - 30-May-2010
  • Central Court, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

This spring the Spencer’s Central Court will features the monumental two-part video New Book of Mountains and Seas (2005-2009) by Shanghai-based artist Qiu Anxiong. In this three-channel video, Qiu draws from a score of recent news topics-from urban development to terrorism; biological cloning to space exploration. Combined with a powerful, original score, he creates an alternate mythological universe inhabited by strange biomorphic creature-machines.

By animating his black-and-white paintings, Qiu evokes the monochromatic ink-and-brush traditions of Chinese literati painters, thus affecting an ancient aesthetic through modern technology. This is part of his broader interest in the relationship between history, memory, tradition, and contemporary society. Qiu observes:

"These days, most people consider new and old to be mutually exclusive concepts. The new is completely novel; the old, totally outdated. The old can be eradicated for the sake of the new and creation of the new world necessarily implies destruction of the old world. But somehow the world that emerges from the gap between us and the old order never seems to add up to our idealization of it. It's never as perfect, nor nearly as peaceful."

Based on the 2nd century Chinese classic of geography, the Shanhai Jing (Classic of Mountains and Seas), this video is a haunting exploration of our oftentimes dysfunctional relationship with technology and the deeply rooted ideological conflicts that threaten to undo the world today. In addition, the exhibition will also feature a portfolio of twelve woodblock prints based on the creatures and strange entities found in the video

Qiu Anxiong was born in 1972 in Chengdu, Sichuan and graduated from the Sichuan Art Academy in 1994. In 2003 he studied painting at Kunsthochschule Kassel. His work has been exhibited widely at international venues like the Shanghai Biennale (2006), the Sydney Biennale (2008), the Guangzhou Biennale (2008), Art Basel (2009) and most recently in the solo exhibition Utopia: Qiu Anxiong (2009) Arken Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark. For more information on Qiu and his work, check out his website www.qiuanxiong.com