Contemporary Chinese artist Qu Leilei (b. 1951), now based in London, was a founding member of the avant-garde ‘Stars Group’ in the late 1970s, and immigrated to England in 1985. This exhibition shows his progression from calligraphic collage to an exploration of a new vocabulary of ink language blending lively brushwork with western technique.
Qu Leilei was born in 1951 in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, China, and like many other Chinese artists received training in painting and calligraphy at an early age. He started his career as a founding member of the famous ‘Stars group’ in China but it was while living in Britain that Qu Leilei has formed his unique style of ink painting. The exposure to Western art, especially classical sculpture and Italian Renaissance painting, intensified his quest for perfection of naturalistic image of bodily beauty in art. His love of beauty for its own sake, and his long and careful studies of the anatomy and Renaissance old masters, have led to large and impressive life-like figure paintings which are the primary focus of the exhibition.
The display features a variety of images ranging from small sketches of life drawing to larger highly refined figural paintings created from 1985 to the present, showing Qu Leilei's progression from calligraphic collage to an exploration of a new vocabulary of ink language. His confident use of brush and ink, allows him to blend western techniques with oriental aesthetics. Most of the works on display are drawn from the Ashmolean’s own collection with additional works on loan from the artist.
(Photo: Qu Leilei, Friendship, 2012, ink on paper, 90 x 186 cm. Courtesy of the artist. © Qu Leilei)