Modern & Contemporary Chinese Art
Qiu Deshu (Chinese, b. 1948)
Fissuring-Genesis-Landscape, No. 5, 1996
ink and acrylic on paper on canvas
Gift of Red Rock Studio, Hong Kong, A Williams Alumnus
Photo by Arthur Evans
As a child, Qiu Deshu (b. 1948, Shanghai) studied traditional ink painting and seal carving (carving characters into a small stone, which is then used to stamp a signature or other identifying mark onto a painting). During the Cultural Revolution, he was employed in Shanghai as an art worker. After China instituted its Reform and Opening Policies of 1978, Qiu and other artists were freed from many of the strict restrictions that were previously placed on art. He began experimenting with contemporary ink and wash painting and spent three years trying to develop a contemporary style and theory. In 1982, while taking a walk, Qiu noticed a cracked slab of stone on the ground. He found the cracks “crudely charming and natural, and quite calm.” He began to notice similar cracks in everything from the smallest cell to the composition of the cosmos, and his artistic technique of “fissuring” was born. The technique entails applying paint to a sheet of xuan paper—the traditional medium of ink and wash painting—which he then tears to expose the white canvas beneath. Fissuring allows Qiu to explore traditional ink painting by inverting compositional elements, using the seal style for the full picture plane and the passive medium as an expressive tool.
Translation of the calligraphy: