Qiu Deshu, one of the few Chinese artists to have received international recognition since the 1980s, studied traditional ink painting and seal carving when he was a child. However, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution interrupted his career in art, and he was sent to work at a plastics factory. In the late 1970s, Qiu picked up ink painting again and cofounded the Grass Painting Society (Caocao huashe), one of China’s first experimental art groups of the post-Mao period. In the early 1980s, he developed his signature style of works called “fissuring” (liebian). This is a metaphor for the artist’s life and artistic career, both of which have experienced dramatic disruptions and setbacks. In these works, he applies vivid colors to xuan paper, which he tears up; Qiu mounts the fragments to a base layer, often leaving space between, to create a pictorial field with the “cracks” that he feels are symbolic of life’s journey.o xuan paper, which he tears up and then mounts the fragments to a base layer, often leaving space between to create a pictorial field with the “cracks” that he feels are symbolic of life’s journey.
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