Matthew Liu Fine Arts is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition of the Beijing-based artist Qi Lei at the gallery. Entitled The River Flows Through the City, the exhibition opens on Friday, November 3rd, with a reception from 4-7pm and runs through December 31st, 2017. Drawing inspirations from the photos of landscape and portrait he takes, Qi Lei develops a practice that emphasizes the notion of painterliness as popularized by the notable art historian Heinrich Wölfflin, expressing profound emotions and thoughts through complementary and contrasting colors, broken tones, broad brushstrokes and sketches.
Presenting works from two of his most recent series, Field and Theater, this exhibition demonstrates the artist’s most recognizable motifs, composition and textures of brushstrokes. Themes of tranquility and personal transformation stream through Qi Lei’s works. In The River Flowing to the Other Shore (2017), The River Flows Through the City(2017), Winter Twilight (2017) and The Martyr (2016-17), he depicts a solitary figure floats in a canoe against desolate riverbanks. He deliberately renders the faces and the reflections of the figures vague and unspecific, and the mountains afar with a melancholic dint shadow. Throughout his practice, this single traveler surrounded by a dreamy yet bleak scenery has become a symbolic image that alludes to the senses of transition, a process and a becoming, and questions the contemporary existence.
Qi Lei examines the notion of spectatorship and collective memories in his on-going Theater series (2013-present).Often devoid of human presence, he renders these public spaces silent, obsolete and morose, evoking the fading social and cultural life that he and his generation experienced as they grew up. With the dripping paint and blurry representation of corridors, seats, curtains and screens inside the cinemas, these sceneriesare presented other worldly, exuberating a sense of apathy and detachment. Yet the broadly colored surface infuses these works with delicate emotions, allowing the viewers to look into their own psyche and contemplate. By doing so, he explores the very veracity of memory, experience and image.
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 hasbecome 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 workshave been included in numerous group exhibitions including 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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Qi Lei: The River Flows Through the City
Dimensions: 28.5 x 24.5 cm
Edition of 300