Inspired by the lengthy cracks that appear in concrete sidewalks and seeing in them a symbol of entropy, destruction, and rebirth, he developed the technique for these works, which he calls “fissure” paintings. (The show’s name also evidences his interest in dualities—night and day, yin and yang, says the artist, are interchangeable metaphors for life’s journey.) To create these paintings, Qiu works with traditional inks—often the central element of traditional Chinese painting—and Xuan (rice) paper, which he tears and arranges on canvas, carefully spacing the parts to create visible cracks. In a delicate layering process, Qiu then adds further elements to the paintings, rubbing and carving as he goes, washing the paper in soft hues. The resulting works highlight the original breaks between paper, giving the paintings a multidimensional, textured feel.
While Qiu, classically trained, uses China’s traditional arts in unexpected ways, he is careful to show his respect for the techniques he uses, and to downplay the connotations of damage his fissure paintings might have. “Fission is a kind of subversion and damage,” he has said
, “while recreation is my ultimate aim. I want to establish (some new) medium and concept, to help develop art and not to destroy it.”