Matthew Liu Fine Arts is pleased to announce Stalker, the second solo exhibition of the Beijing-based artist Qi Lei at the gallery. In his practice, Qi Lei has been consciously exploring the painterly and abstract elements within, and constructing sentiment-embedded scenes by means of colour, line and composition. His works depict the loneliness one feels when reflecting in face of the nature, the mentality of mankind and delicate sentiments. Drawing inspirations from his trips to Myanmar, Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries in the past two years, this new body of work delineates the subtropical forest and resorts built for urbanites in the wilderness.
From his earlier PIT and Cinema Series to his paintings in recent years, Qi Lei’s works often touch upon questions over the ways in which the image is formed and the relationship between image and sentiment. In his early works, Qi placed particular emphasis on the control and structure of frame as a whole. There has been significant change in colour in Qi Lei’s work since 2017. Every part of the painting is filled with strong contrastive colour combinations — green and purple, orange and blue, yellow and green, all these constitute intense visual conflict, thus creates some kind of restless psychological experience. In contrast to narration and scenario, now he places more focus on the painterly characteristics and abstraction of the image, exploring different painting practices. On one hand, the objects he painted exhibit an uncertain state of existence in a surreal ambience, and even a drowning sense of anxiety; on the other hand, by weakening the form, the artist focuses on tonal variation, textual manipulation, and move towards higher level of sheer visual impact.
In many of the works in this exhibition, including A jungle by the Irrawaddy River (2018) and Shadows of trees (2018), the artist repeatedly painted a large area of woods in an almost bigoted manner. Repetition becomes a conscious means of painting, and bestows the same kind of entity with different colours and forms. When the artist painted the image, it is no longer a figurative depiction of the object nor a narrative interpretation of the scene, but rather it presents a painterly and pictorial mindset that depicts ripples and trees in an abstract manner, hence extracted the entity into a set of extremely complicated lines, dynamic brushstrokes and chromatic scheme. While An afternoon at a swimming pool in Bagan (2018) and The open air swimming pool (2018) seem to be realistic depictions of the scenes with well-conceived composition, two sets of contrasting lines are present — the smooth curve of the swimming pool and the short, fragmentary brushstrokes in the overlapping trees at the margin of the frame. The woods in the upper part of the frame is exuberant and wild with an untamable sense of primitive vitality, while the curve of the swimming pool invades the frame with a sense of forcefulness, symbolizing the intense conflict between the rational calculation of an industrial society and the chaos and unknown of nature. The sentiments of anxiety and fear hidden deep in human consciousness, and even the uncompromisable conflict between the society and the nature are all acutely captured by the artist and displayed in an emotion-charged composition.
Born in 1986 in Suixi, Anhui, Qi Lei received his M.F.A from the Oil Painting Department at Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts in 2014. Since he relocated to Beijing after graduation, Qi has become one of the most active young artists. His works are included in the public collections of the ARTMIA Foundation, Gome Art Foundation and Yungang Grottoes Institute. Qi has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Matthew Liu Fine Arts, Shanghai, 2017; ARTMIA Foundation, Beijing, 2015 and Gome Art Foundation, Hong Kong, 2014. His works have been included in numerous group exhibitions including Open Islands, Tang Contemporary Art, Bangkok, Thailand, 2019; Intuitive Consciousness: The Fundamental Force of Painting(Second), Beijing Times Art Museum, Beijing, 2018; All Happens After Sunset, Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, 2017; What Makes Us Who We Are, Xu Gallery Shanghai, 2017; Ulysses’ Gaze—The Return of Painterliness and Soulful Contemplation, Ginkgo Art Center, Beijing, 2016 and Qing Plan, Right View Art Museum, Beijing, Guan Shanyue Art Museum, Shenzhen, 2016.
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