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Chen Qiuchi the cynical realist


The movement called Cynical Realism, in Chinese Wanshi Xianshizhuyi 玩世现实主义, was born autonomously and branched out from Beijing after the student protests of the Democratic Spring in 1989, resulted in the Tien’ammen Square massacre on June 4th of the same year.

Supported by the Anglo-Iraqi gallery manager Charles Saatchi, the Movement swiftly spreader out in whole China and also internationally thanks to Fang Lijun’s participation at the 45th Venice Biennale in 1993 directed by Achille Bonito Oliva. With a nihilistic mark, but influenced by the oriental culture, the Cynical Realism was born far from the stereotypes of the regime’s art of the previous decades; it has its own fundamental nature in the free experimentation, in the social denounce and in irony, its most famous founders are Fang Lijun and  Yue Minjun who drive all the other Chinese artists in the auctions of Sotheby’s and Christies confirming  the interest of high level International collectors.

Chen Qiuchi the cynical realist
Chen Qiuchi the cynical realist

Chen Qiuchi the cynical realist was born in Jiu Tai, Ji Lin Province in 1959, he got his training in Beijing where he graduated in Arts Faculty at the Northeastern Normal University in 1987.

Although Chen Qiuchi grew up with the other artists of the group, he has not yet received the well-deserved feedback in the Western countries because his university is not among those selected to receive the institutional support. In spite of the more obstacles and imposed barriers, his own technical quality and the universal concepts expressed in his art, gave him the chance to exhibit more times abroad in major locations such as Hong Kong, Seoul, London, Cologne, Berlin but never in Italy.

It will be so possible to bay his paintings for the first time in Italy exclusively at the art gallery MAG in Como,  his artworks painted between 2014 and 2016, all oils on canvas set up without any frameworks and frames, hanged directly on the walls of the gallery to represent society’s flattening and the wish to eliminate the superfluity that creates a diversion, the aim is actually to concentrate the attention on the essence of each artwork. Chen Qiuchi the cynical realist, is an artist with a subversive-conceptual personality by nature, reflective and of kind temperament, he deals with strength and determination the necessary topics to let the public reflect on the civil values necessary to safeguard peace and the survival of whole humanity. He is very incisive towards human arrogance, rudeness and technology that in China has already caused a deep environmental crisis and an existential one of the human relationships, the artist asserts that life is the most important and precious right that each of us received, and it must be honored giving always our best and we must do all our most for the good of humanity. Wars, nuclear, demographic, energetic and environmental crisis are the main denounce because as artist and member of the human community, he deeply feels the duty to get  people aware and to discuss about these topics with the hope that this can be of help to shake feelings and humans can be able to get through and out from the current avid era and begin again to take care of nature.

Chen Qiuchi’s paintings certainly share quality and topics similar to other cynical realists, but his own attention goes over the subjects repeated by the other artists. Technically enviable, Chen Qiuchi the cynical realist, always expresses his own opinion about the matters that each individual should speak and discuss about, indeed, his “little faces”, which look like him a bit, dominated by red, orange and sometimes grey tones or multicolor, are a symbol which, according to the image that they absorb like a virus, express happiness, anger or fear.

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When his criticism is for wars and weapons, his airplanes, shotguns and tanks are covered by a lot of “little faces” and are “humanized” till make them loose their own destructive power, whereas other times he simply wants to express his feelings of love towards this world by painting smiling flowers. His aim is to be understood through an universal language, to converse with the whole humanity, so he often puts together Chinese and Western symbols, mixing surrealism with pop elements. Most of Chen Qiuchi the cynical realist, work is visually focused on the human head’s contour to reflect the process of the existential thought which day by day leads all us and which is our world. Chen Qiuchi the cynical realist, does this, moving beyond the enlarged faces represented in the paintings by his companions of movement and by the political art of the first half of the last century, he creates more shapes caricatures, understanding and representing society’s complexity and frustration.

His solo show at the Art Gallery MAG is the first one in Italy and is a very important milestone for a powerful voice in the contemporary Chinese and worldwide culture.

Salvatore Marsiglione

Chen Qiuchi the cynical realis

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