Last month I once again found myself in Chelsea, the borough of New York City bursting with contemporary galleries representing they’re latest crushes of the spring season. Throughout March and April, Pace Gallery debuted Chinese artist Qiu Xiaofei’s first individual exhibition in North America: Double Pendulum, a display of diverse synthesis in chromatic abstraction.
Drips, scrapes and splatters unite the white cube walls of Pace Gallery’s West 25th Street location in Chelsea. Xiaofei’s abstract techniques in painting developed from his artistic practice formed at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing from 1998 to 2002. Previously working on subjects that focused primarily on his past and his intimate family life, Xiaofei has moved on from these themes toward gestures concentrating on the importance of form and colour. These traditional elements represent something that Xiaofei believes can communicate his expression of the contemporary social subconscious. The improvisational process that Xiaofei practices, reveals his fast-paced technique – a method that is perhaps a comment on the accelerated rate that society, culture and politics is moving and growing in the contemporary, specifically within China.
The rich texture and lush colour of Xiaofei’s large canvases introduce a palatial setting to Pace. His thick glops of acrylic paint overlaid with geometrical shapes and abstract forms – some less abstract than others – bring about a contingence between the conceptual abstract and the solid figurative. This lends Xiaofei’s practice as something suggestively reminiscent of the 1920s surrealist masters like Rene Magritte and of course, Salvador Dali. Since Double Pendulum’s exhibit at Pace, it has been noted that Xiaofei is the first of a new generation of Chinese artist’s exploring abstraction in the current climate; hopefully something we have to look forward to at upcoming art fairs across the world this year.
Xiaofei’s teases gallery goers in his latest North American exhibition, playing between three-dimensional and flat planes whilst setting unpredictable warps of colour and texture throughout each canvas. His solo exhibitions at The Art Museum of Central Academy Fine Arts Beijing, Doosan Art Centre Seoul, Minsheng Art Museum Shanghai, and now at Pace Gallery New York, suggest him as one to watch in the on-going arts calendar. If you didn’t see this exhibition, be sure to seek out his next show – Xiaofei’s work is not to be missed when on display!