Qiu Anxiong was born in 1972 in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in the southwest of China. There, he studied the progressive artistic practice of Ye Yongqing and Zhang Xiaogang. A bar opened by Qiu and his friends became a hub for the blossoming underground music and art circles in Sichuan, and his colleagues included He Duoling, Zhou Chunya, and Shen Xiaotong. In 2003 he graduated from the University Kassel’s College of Art in Germany after six years of studying both contemporary international art and traditional Chinese culture. In 2004 he began teaching at Shanghai Normal University, and currently lives and works in Shanghai.
Qiu Anxiong’s recent work consists largely of paintings, animations, and video installations. In the 2006 piece “The New Classic of Mountains and Oceans,” for example, Qiu employs multitudes of ink drawings and links them together in an animated form. The title itself refers to the ancient Chinese mythology Classic of the Seas and Mountains. Besides investigating the interaction between ancient and modern Chinese culture, this work and others like it have a dreamlike quality: the clearly delineated images framed by unbelievable narratives faithfully depict the absurdity of the world around us. This link to the everyday further enhances the political value of the work, which engages in a damning criticism of environmental degradation, social breakdown, and massive urbanization. Unlike younger artists, Qiu Anxiong does not indulge in the personal pleasures of the everyday, but rather takes the undifferentiated mass of history as his raw material.