Qiu Zhijie: The Bridge • Nanjing • Under the Heaven

Qiu Zhijie is known for his artistic explorations on China’s changing cultural landscape and method “calli-photo-graphy”, fusing Chinese calligraphy with video works, installation and performance art. Qiu’s printmaking background and radical explorations in artistic media propelled the collaboration with STPI to new creative frontiers and expanded the possibilities of art-making.

In this exhibition, Qiu explores the nationhood, and geopolitical and psychological attachments to Nanjing City. He combines imagery of the Nanjing Bridge with ancient Chinese aesthetics, Daoist philosophy and Cultural Revolution symbols to create a conceptual map that questions the ideas that had built a cyclic China. Qiu recounts Daoist classics in Ataractic of Zhuang Zi 1, injecting a dose of ancient philosophy to ‘tranquilise’ the strains of historical burdens and anxieties of contemporary life.

Nanjing City holds much fascination for Qiu because it’s close to the hearts and minds of the Chinese people. Qiu regards this great City that had prominence in Chinese history and culture as a “City of Failure”, for its tragic past of wars and massacres. The tragedy continues to this day where the Nanjing Bridge is a favoured site for suicidal acts. Over 2000 people had jumped to their deaths, since it opened in 1968.

With the STPI project in mind, Qiu attempted to mould his concepts in paper cast works, thus pushing the role of paper to the fore. The construction of the Nanjing Bridge structure or the multi-stepped ‘cloud-sea’ relief was a delicate process that involved many trials before achieving the desired final result. Qiu displayed amazing draughtsmanship in the lithographs that combined Western based techniques with Chinese ink painting style, as seen in Propagator in the Darkness.

At STPI, Master Papermaker Richard Hungerford and his crew witnessed Qiu churning out works in two and three dimensional form, effortlessly. He says, “Qiu works as if he is on a mission. What that mission is would only come from his soul and the translations of ancient proverbs. I found it a privilege to enable his visions to come from STPI paper.”