Xu Lei studied Chinese ink painting at the Department of Fine Arts of Nanjing Art Academy and was a professional painter affiliated with the Jiangsu Institute of Chinese Painting. Based in Bejing, he now works at the Graduate School of the China Art Academy, serves as the art director of the Today Art Museum, and is editor-in-chief of the magazine Classics. Xu was an active participant in the innovative art movements in China in the late 1980s. He returned to ink painting in the 1990s. Well-versed in the classic fine-line (gongbi, detailed and elaborate) style of painting and influenced by traditional art, principally Song painting and woodcut illustrations from the Ming period, as well as by Surrealism and conceptual art, Xu Lei’s beautiful paintings rarely incorporate human figures. His work was included in the major 1998 exhibition A Century in Crisis: Modernity and Tradition in the Art of Twentieth-Century China organized by Julia F. Andrews and Kuiyi Shen at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.