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b. 1977, China

Qiu Xiaofei Biography

Contemporary Chinese artist Qiu Xiaofei is known for his improvisational canvases that interrogate personal and collective memory, and painting as a practice.

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Early Life

Qiu Xiaofei was born in Heilongjiang, China. He studied painting at Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing and received his degree in 2002. He is a member of the N12 group of Central Academy of Fine Arts graduates, who began exhibiting together in 2003.

Qiu Xiaofei Artworks

Qiu Xiaofei works in a diversity of media including oil paint, watercolour, acrylic paint, sculpture and installation.


Qiu Xiaofei's paintings have often referenced his own memory. Through his process, the artist explores 'thought diversions,' or the inner workings of his consciousness to be able to consider his personal experiences. In the past, Qiu's subjects have included private diaries, family photographs, and household objects.

Heilongjiang Box (2006) takes its form from the shape of a student's notebook. Inside the box, Qiu had arranged a collection of what appear to be personal belongings, including marbles and coins, and paper printed to look old. While the items are not necessarily 'real', they elicit narratives of a personal history relating to the artist's own life. In the foreword to the work, Qiu writes, 'I really wish that by painting every single day I am able to manifest the whole world I know with the real memories and history of my life ... I hope that my paintings can help people ... and give them hope.'

In 2010, Qiu's fascination with memory shifted from assessing his own experiences to addressing collective episodes. His 2010 exhibition Point of No Return at Boers-Li Gallery, Beijing explored the inner psyche of a mentally distressed family member by translating these feelings and conceptions through his painting. This body of work not only pointed to a sense of personal loneliness, but also to the shared sociopolitical and cultural backdrop of a socialist past.


Qiu's painting process is often improvisational. In his practice, he has taken a turn to acrylic paint after previously working with oil. This transition has allowed him to approach the canvas with more spontaneity as water-based paints dry faster.

Qiu has used palette knives, spray guns, and brushes spontaneously, adding each element in layers to create multidimensional canvases playing with depth and space. In a 2016 interview with Ocula Magazine, the artist remarked that his work mixes both abstract and representational elements in his paintings to create juxtapositions that 'capture a sense of infinite space.'

For the artist, painting can be akin to religion in that it can be used to understand human experience. While his paintings lean toward abstraction, Qiu explores the potential of its form and colour. Through these interrogations into the form of painting, Qiu unravels concepts relating to society, death, and growth while playing with painting's metaphorical underpinnings rather than its overt symbolism.

Painting with Sculpture

In addition to painting, Qiu has also explored the potential of sculpture in combination with his canvases. This investigation can be seen in his 2013 exhibition at Beijing Commune, Rauschenberg Said, "The Walking Stick Is Longer than the Maulstick, After All", which referenced American artist Robert Rauschenberg's practice of assemblage that blurred the distinctions between sculpture and painting.

Through this exhibition, Qiu explored themes of interdependence and interference. In Chicken Wood (2013), the artist placed a wood panel leaning against a wall with his painting beside it. In front of this scene, he arranged steel frames with more wood panels, creating a tableau in which visual and conceptual importance is shared between all elements of the work.


Qiu Xiaofei has held solo exhibitions at the Central Academy of Fine Arts Art Museum, Beijing; Doosan Art Centre, Seoul; Pace Gallery, New York, Seoul, and Hong Kong; and New Century Art Foundation, Beijing. His work has been collected by M+, Hong Kong and Long Museum, Shanghai.


Qiu Xiaofei's Instagram can be found here.

Arianna Mercado | Ocula | 2021

Qiu Xiaofei Featured Artworks

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Grotto by Qiu Xiaofei contemporary artwork painting
Qiu Xiaofei Grotto, 2021 Oil on linen
150 x 150 cm
He Art Museum
Untitled No. 5 by Qiu Xiaofei contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Qiu Xiaofei Untitled No. 5, 2010 Watercolour on paper
116 x 80.7 cm
Beijing Commune Contact Gallery
Spiraling Sky by Qiu Xiaofei contemporary artwork painting
Qiu Xiaofei Spiraling Sky, 2019 Acrylic on canvas
180 x 180 cm
Pace Gallery
The Trotsky wilderness by Qiu Xiaofei contemporary artwork painting
Qiu Xiaofei The Trotsky wilderness, 2019 Acrylic on canvas
200 x 200 cm
Pace Gallery
Roundabouts by Qiu Xiaofei contemporary artwork mixed media
Qiu Xiaofei Roundabouts, 2018 Acrylic on linen, coloured cotton cloth
200 x 200 cm
Pace Gallery
Old Scenery by Qiu Xiaofei contemporary artwork painting
Qiu Xiaofei Old Scenery, 2018 Oil on canvas
24 x 30 cm
Pace Gallery
Constant and Impermanence No. 3 by Qiu Xiaofei contemporary artwork works on paper
Qiu Xiaofei Constant and Impermanence No. 3, 2018 Ink, watercolour and charcoal on paper framed with aluminium panel
54 x 65 cm
Pace Gallery
Constancy and Impermanence No. 2 by Qiu Xiaofei contemporary artwork works on paper
Qiu Xiaofei Constancy and Impermanence No. 2, 2018 Ink, watercolour and charcoal on paper framed with aluminium panel
65 x 50.4 cm
Pace Gallery

Qiu Xiaofei Recent Exhibitions

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Qiu Xiaofei Represented By

Pace Gallery contemporary art gallery in 540 West 25th Street, New York, USA
Pace Gallery East Hampton, Geneva, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles +4

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