1987 · China
About Qi Yafei's works
Qi Yafei is regarded as a main figure in the fields of Expressionism, Figuration and Digital. Flourishing between 1905 and 1920, Expressionism denotes a movement that influenced literature, architecture, performances and art. Expressionist artists essentially strived to illustrate the world as it felt, rather than how it looked, thus permitting art to be reborn with an emotional truthfulness and expressive strength. Particularly expanding in Germany and Austria, Expressionists formed groups where they would share studios as well as exhibit or publish their works together - such groups include Die Brücke in Dresden, as well as Der Blaue Reiter in Munich. Although Expressionism can be considered a rather vast term that encompasses a multitude of tendencies, the artworks themselves are often characterized by unplanned gestural marks and distorted representations, that would strive to express the artist’s inner turmoil. Some highly acclaimed paintings representative of Expressionism include Edvard Munch’s The Scream, Wassily Kandinsky’s Der Blaue Reiter, and Egon Schiele’s Sitting Woman with Legs Drawn Up.
In essence, figurative art is art which depicts recognizable features of reality, or of the human figure. Although the definition seems to be rather simple, figuration still remains in its very essence more than just a depiction of reality. Indeed, the different styles in which figurative art can be executed are infinite, thus making figurative art a ground-breaking and ever evolving category, in which Qi Yafei's work is mainly grounded. Some prominent artists known for their impact on figurative art include Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Paul Cézanne or Jean-Michel Basquiat.
In the early 1980s, prominent artists such as Harold Cohen or Andy Warhol started to experiment with computer painting programs, thus paving the way for what would later be known as digital art. From digital paintings to installations or 3D renderings of sculptures, digital art is essentially mixing technology with art, creating a new sphere where freedom and endless possibilities invite artists to experiment and create. Whether the technology is the medium or the end itself, for art to be considered as digital, any sort of computer processing needs to be involved in the creation or presentation of the work. The universe of digital art is complex and naturally evolving, as technology itself continues to grow and develop.
Qi Yafei's exhibition
Historical Context of China
China has always been a rather ungraspable figure in the eyes of the West, unique in its cultural and political institutions and quite restricted in nature, but nonetheless representative of an incredibly refined and artistically rich culture. China remains a pioneer in technology and technical innovation, in the respective fields of the arts and sciences, and an astonishing number of innovations have been established by Chinese artisans. This includes true porcelain, with kaolin as the key ingredient, which was developed in the early 1300s. It is not until 1722 that the Meissen factory in Germany uncovered the fundamental elements of the recipe, thus enabling Europe to manufacture porcelain of the same technical qualities.
Throughout the modern and contemporary period, kept-back from the influence of the West. Until the onset of the twentieth century, the Imperial power of China, abundant of centuries old traditions, was prospering, but civil war ravaged the country as the forces of Chiang Kai Shek and Mao Zedong fought for the control of this great country, its people and resources.
Productions of art in the modern period were essentially reshaping the more classical, pre-existing ideals of Calligraphic ink work, when not engaging in promoting the figures of social realism, ideals of the State.
The art and culture of the Maoist era, which would live on for decades from the mid-century period, were employed as a vehicle for a number of propagandist ideals, promoting the revolutionary communism of Mao Zedong.
Some outstanding Chinese artists, whose work can be characterised as modernist in a global and western context of artistic movements, include Sanyu and Zao Wou-Ki.
Further Biographical Context for Qi Yafei
Qi Yafei was born in 1987 and was largely inspired creatively by the 1990s growing up. Art in the 1990s was defined at the start of the decade by a group of artists in the United Kingdom that came to be known as the YBAs, or Young British Artists. They were a diverse collective of creatives, affiliated loosely by their age, nationality, and their association with Goldsmiths and the Royal College of Art in London, as well as being favoured by super collector of the time Charles Saatchi. The most famous artist of the group is Damien Hirst, who was also an early organiser of group activities. Other members included Chris Ofili, Tracey Emin, Marc Quinn, Gavin Turk, Sarah Lucas and Sam Taylor-Wood. Much of their art became known for shock tactics and the sensationalism of both material and message. They also became famed for their use of throwaway materials, wild-living, and an attitude that was simultaneously counter-culture rebellion but also entrepreneurial. They achieved considerable amount of media coverage and dominated British art during the decade. Their international shows in the mid-1990s included the now legendary ‘Sensation'.
Also gaining prominence at this time was an emergent trend in Japan related to the huge boom in advertising and consumerism that took place during the economic dominance of the 1980s. The indigenous comic book culture of manga, allied to trends in advertising, graphic design and packaging, saw a young artist called Takashi Murakami develop his theories which he coined ’Superflat’. Influenced by his experiences in New York City in the mid-1990s, Murakami was to form an influential collective called Kaikaikiki, which became internationally renowned as an artistic group.
Conceptual photography led by German ideas and artists came to prominence. Artists like Andreas Gursky, Thomas Struth, and Wolfgang Tillmans gained major recognition, and inspired other artists such as the Canadian Jeff Wall, who experimented with the kind of cinematic expansiveness associated with the German artists’ work. Painters like Albert Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger exercised a strong influence on younger artists.
Relational Aesthetics became a key idea. It was a term coined by curator Nicholas Bourriaud in the 1990s to describe the tendency to make art based on, or inspired by, human relations and their social context. Works by artists such as Douglas Gordon, Gillian Wearing, Philippe Parenno and Liam Gillick were described as key artists who worked to this outline.
A proliferation of trends characterised the decade, including the highly derisive sculpture of Maurizio Cattelan, and highly sensitive advancements of conceptualism as shown in the work of artists like Felix Gonzalez-Torres.
- Galleries Representing this Artist