Qiu Shihua: Neiguan

Vue d'installation, Qiu Shihua, Neiguan, Galerie Karsten Greve Cologne, 2024
23.02.24 - 06.04.24

Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne

Mardi à samedi, de 10h à 18h30

le vendredi 05 avril 2024, à 18 heures.

En coopération avec l'Institut Confucius de Bonn, un concert de la joueuse de guqin YAN Yan aura lieu.

Version anglaise

Galerie Karsten Greve is delighted to present "Neiguan", the Chinese painter Qiu Shihua's fourth comprehensive solo exhibition in Cologne. On view are 19 paintings and works on paper created between 1995 and 2023, which are being presented in Cologne for the first time.


Qiu Shihua continuously explores the genre of landscape painting. His pictures defy immediate legibility and provide a wide range of visual discoveries for the patient eye. The viewer is encouraged to constantly realign their gaze so that the image can unfold over time. Nature and landscape are a constant in Qiu Shihua's work, which has been strongly influenced by Taoist philosophy since the 1980s.

Born in 1940 in Zizhong, in Sichuan province (China), Qiu Shihua began to paint, self-taught, from a very young age before studying at Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts. Despite his soviet-style education, the artist was familiar with the French and German schools of painting and practiced outdoor painting. When he began his studies, China's traditional artistic and literary culture was increasingly being suppressed by the communist policies of the time. Under Mao's leadership, traditional Chinese artists came under pressure to adapt their painting to communist themes and styles. This included Qiu Shihua, who mainly accepted commissions as a poster illustrator during this time.

A trip to Europe in 1984, during which Qiu Shihua became acquainted with the pioneers of European art of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, starting with the Impressionists, had a significant influence on his artistic development. The superfluity and the flood of information gave way to the artist's creative process, which from then on increasingly aligned with his spiritual thinking. His work follows the Taoist principle of "action through inaction “I began to cultivate myself according to the principles of Taoism, which took a very long time. From that point on, my heart became calmer and I became more relaxed. Taoism unconsciously permeated my work (…). In the past I had always accumulated more and more information and felt that I was always looking outwards, but now I look inwards – it was a long road back.”
According to Taoist philosophy, man and nature complement each other. The pursuit of wisdom lies in the harmony that arises when the heart and mind are equally focussed on the Tao, the path.  Letting go of the idea of a goal and realising that the path is the level to be reached - this is where Qiu Shihua's painterly mediation and contemplation lead.

Qiu Shihua's art conveys visions of landscapes that oscillate between the Western idea of abstraction and reduction on the one hand and the Taoist concepts of repetition and emptiness on the other. As a result of his in-depth knowledge of Chinese and Western painting, he succeeds in uniting both traditions. Techniques developed by artists such as Claude Monet and William Turner can be identified through the dissolution of the landscape into a painterly process and the treatment of the subject through the study of light and atmosphere. Following the Chinese tradition of shanshui painting (shan: mountain and shui: water), he creates the surface of the canvas in an interplay of fullness and emptiness. The viewer's gaze wanders over the entire surface of the canvas and never remains fixed on one particular point for too long.

When encountering the artist’s work for the first time, one’s immediate impression may be that of monochrome painting. White is dominant in Qiu Shihua’s art. In Chinese, the word for ‘white’ and the word for ‘empty’ (respectively Baise and Kongbai) have the same root (-bai-). Beginning his process with a landscape painting composed of primary colours (blue, red or yellow), Qiu Shihua proceeds with a careful and deliberate erasing and revealing of details, inlaying the motifs in thin veils or glazes of diluted pale paint. In his sophisticated and fascinating paintings, the image remains hidden underneath the layers of paint, revealing only a few traces of the creative process. Yet it is not only about the spatiality within the painting, but also about its reference to the physical space. Depending on the incidence of light and location, the smallest figurative elements appear and disappear like fleeting apparitions.

In an attempt to "express visions beyond the visual", Qiu Shihua offers each visitor a very personal experience that emphasises individual perception and thus gives the viewer a more critical faculty. Qiu Shihua represents a generation of artists who are exploring the modernisation of traditional Chinese art and the integration of Western art techniques between landscape painting and abstraction. Comparable to the demands of installations or environments, and due to the fact that his art is difficult to reproduce, his work requires the physical presence of the viewer to experience the work as a whole. In Qiu Shihua's own words: "When the viewer enters the (image) space, he will feel how real they are, and he will notice how what he sees changes from time to time, sometimes becoming larger, sometimes smaller, depending on his inner state."

Qiu Shihua was born in 1940 in Zizhong, Sichuan Province (China). He graduated from the Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts in 1962, specialising in oil painting, in a country that was still largely closed to the Western world and its art. His first solo exhibitions in China took place in the early 1990s. Today, Qiu Shihua is an internationally recognised artist. In 2001, the New York Kunsthalle presented his first monographic exhibition outside China. Since then, his work has been recognised in numerous solo exhibitions, such as White Field at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin in 2012, and he has also participated in prestigious group exhibitions, including Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2013). His works have been exhibited at the São Paolo Biennale (1996), the Venice Biennale (1999) and the Shanghai Biennale (2004) and are in major public and private collections, including the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, the DKM Museum, Duisburg, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the LACMA, Los Angeles. Qiu Shihua lives and works between Beijing and Shenzhen (China). Galerie Karsten Greve is representing Qiu Shihua since 2015.

Œuvres exposées



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