The New Book of Mountains and Seas
30 min 15 sec
With eerie humor, Qiu transforms the technologies of devastation into weird and wonderful animals: tanks shaped like elephants, automobiles that look like turtles, long-winged flying monsters that spurt fire from their heads and resemble military helicopters, as well as other flying creatures that look like stingrays but are reminiscent of stealth fighters. In New Book of Mountains and Seas, Qiu turns his attention to both a macrocosm of universal scale and a microcosm at the cellular and genetic level and ties the two together through his imagery. Within this all-encompassing world view he discusses some topical issues affecting life at a very individual level, from genetic recombination and cloned sheep to mad cow disease and bird flu, in a comical yet unsettling way.
Qiu Anxiong was born in 1972 in Chengdu, Sichuan province, in the southwest of China. There, he studied the progressive artistic practice of Ye Yongqing and Zhang Xiaogang. A bar opened by Qiu and his friends became a hub for the blossoming underground music and art circles in Sichuan and his patrons included He Duoling, Zhou Chunya, and Shen Xiaotong. In 2003 he graduated from the University of Kassel's College of Art in Germany after six years of studying both contemporary international art and traditional Chinese culture. In 2004 he began teaching at Shanghai Normal University and currently lives and works in Shanghai.
Qiu Anxiong’s recent work consists largely of paintings, animations, and video installations. In New Book of Mountains and Seas, for example, Qiu employs a multitude of ink drawings and links them together in an animated form. The title itself refers to the ancient Chinese mythology text, the Book of the Seas and Mountains. As well as investigating the interaction between ancient and modern Chinese culture, this work and others like it have a dreamlike quality: the clearly delineated images framed by unbelievable narratives faithfully depict the absurdity of the world around us. This link to the everyday further enhances the political value of the work, which engages in a damning criticism of environmental degradation, social breakdown, and massive urbanization. Unlike younger artists, Qiu Anxiong does not indulge in the personal pleasures of the everyday, but rather takes the undifferentiated mass of history as his raw material.