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This and the following two posts will be about works by individual artists that caught our eyes in Venice. Co-incidentally, the three artists are all of Chinese descent. The first is Qiu Zhijie (邱志杰, 1969) who was invited to participate in the Biennale by the organizer.


His work –The Jinling Chronicle Theater Project – was exhibited in the Arsenale venue but not in the Chinese pavillion. The project appears in part as a series of ink-and-wash maps in the tradition of Chinese landscape painting. It renders aspects of certain intellectual concepts and recurrent roles that repeat themselves in Chinese history.


Bilingual names are provided for each concept or role. Our apologies for the small photos which are hard to read. The concepts and roles named in the painting immediately above are: memoirs, news, koan, inventor, revolutionary, stepping stone, frog.  


The concepts and roles mentioned in the painting above are: inn, fortune, thunder, geographer, shangri-la, tortuous path, lament, history maker, reform.

According to Wikipedia, his work deals with the struggle between the forces of destiny and self-assertion, as well as social fragmentation and transience. The concepts and roles mentioned below are:  out of border, wolf smoke, cavalry, merchant, great wall, epitaph, will, licentious emperor, central plain, joker, highway pavillion, supreme seductress, monk, curer, night rain.


The concepts and roles mentioned below are:  comet, lobbyist, deposed empress, dictator, eunuch, bribery, elixir, imperial court, jade seal, southern flight, local prince, fisherman, eastern palace, imperial in-laws, dragon vein.  


One can roam from one landmark (concept) to another topographically and ponder the meaning (if there is any) of their juxtaposition. The project also offers 108 surreal objects corresponding to some of the concepts and roles in the painting.



“Ploy” appears in the below ink painting. The other concepts and roles named are: warlord, soldiers, commoners, household, banquet, samsara, strategist, and princeling.


Evil cult  – this object reminded us of Rene Margritte’s pipes and certain Czech graphics designs.


Evil cult” appears at the bottom left corner of the photo. The other concepts and roles are: natural fortress, walled city, nostalgia, covenant, recalcitrant army general, northward march.


This is the bottom half of the same painting. The other concepts and roles shown here are:  bandit, canal transport, torture, prophecy, natural disaster, peasantry, taxman.QiuZhijie-15

I(Chris) liked maps and infomational graphics generally – so it was really fun to peruse the ideas and the execution. It was unfortunate that there was not enough room in the Aresnale space to spread out all the 108 objects.

Minister of Propaganda


The other concepts and roles named in the painting below are:  servant, nursery rhyme, story teller, mad man, ghost. The minister of propaganda is on the right side near the edge.


Qiu Zhijie is an accomplished author on art theory books and a professor at the Chinese Academy of Art. He studied printmaking and is skilled in calligraphy. He is interested in art production, employs many media, and champions the idea of Total Art.


There were several bigger panels of ink painting (see above for example) in the tradition of scrolls, with more details depicting the life of people in a small traditional town, but it is not possible to properly show them here.

Hope he publishes a book of these paintings.

One Comment

  1. Just saw a Qiu Zhijie show called living writing in Kanazawa Japan. Many of the named parts of Jinling Theatre have been realized as physical objects with a booklet examining each pieces role both intimate and social.

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