Shanghai Art Gallery - Chinese Contemporary Art


On Qu Muzi's Artistic Compositions

North-eastern Chinese artist Qu Muzi was selected as one of China’s top emerging artists at the Chinese Art Prize 2007. Out of over a thousand entries, Qu’s work was awarded the Silver Prize by a distinguished panel of international curators, museum directors and art fair directors. Qu Muzi deserves the recognition; she is a master of composition. In Qu’s artwork she carefully and meticulously arranges all aspects, paying close attention to lighting, colours, perspectives and angles, motion and other aspects for emphasis and dramatic effect. Qu’s work is not straight-forward with a specific message, but rather the artist aims to present the viewer with a mysterious scene or symbols that provoke reflection and introspection. Themes relating to life, death, love, memories, the future, cold and dignity can all be interpreted in Qu Muzi’s works.
One of the immediately impressive aspects of Qu Muzi’s paintings is how the artist cleverly contrasts light and dark. The artist intentionally brightens certain elements within her work – as if there is a spotlight somewhere outside of the piece shining onto objects or figures within the work, whereas the remainder of the painting is dark or filled with shadows. For example, in “Ivy” the lower half of the composition is very dark, whereas the figure in white lying on the earth is brightly lit, in dramatic contrast to her surroundings. This stark contrast adds drama to the work; this effect emphasizes the figure and its significance. “Ivy” represents the miracle of birth, as the woman is curled on the floor like a fetus, emerging from the darkness. Likewise in “A Girl Named Diana”, the pure white, almost glowing, wedding dress of Diana climbing the dark red stairs is highlighted in contrast with the dark fathomless background. This piece was based on Princess Diana in church, symbolizing the passage of a young woman into her future – stepping out of her childhood dreams and into adulthood.
Qu Muzi also has a remarkable ability to create depth-of-field and different perspectives through the alignment of objects within her pieces, while simultaneously using darkness to add a mysterious impression to the pieces. Qu uses the angular lines of walls or objects to add depth and perspective to her paintings – pulling viewers into her works. For example, in “Hidden No. 3” the viewer looks from a top-down perspective into a window of a building, a bit like a peeping tom. Outside, the wall’s bright textured colour and the lines of the window panes draw the viewers’ eyes towards the dark scene inside. A solitary highlighted figure lies on the floor, face-down, while a standing figure’s hands are visible hiding behind the window curtains. We are presented with a mystery, a la Alfred Hitchcock. It is said that Hitchcock drew out every scene in his movies before they were filmed, similar to how Qu has drawn out this scene. While the viewers of this painting are invaders, looking inside through the window, we also wish to understand what has occurred inside. Our perspective is from the outside, and we are also left in the dark as to what has happened to the figure on the floor. Was she struck down? Was she killed? Does she need help? What will the figure hiding behind the curtain do? Similarly, in “Then Winter Comes No 5”, a shadowy figure stands beside a window; the light flowing into the room is blindingly bright and the only things clearly visible are an outlines of window panes, a table, white papers, a plastic bottle and the human figure. The tables’, window panes’ and other objects’ outlines and edges, which point towards and beyond the figure, cleverly create depth within the piece. The shadowy figure’s shape indicates that he or she is looking towards the viewer, but the dark shadows hide the expression and intention of the character, adding mystery to the scene.
Many emerging Chinese artists nowadays use excessively bright colours to attract attention. Qu Muzi does not follow this trend – instead she has chosen her own path. Qu uses simple dark and bright portions of her pieces to create complex compositions, filled with contrast and intrigue. The dramatic techniques that she employs appear to be simple, but Qu must be meticulous in order for it to be so effective. With such careful attention to her work and an ability to construct her paintings so intelligently, it is no wonder that Qu Muzi has made a strong impression on international audiences and her works are welcomed and hailed by art lovers and critics globally.

© Art Scene Warehouse and Qu Muzi
Images of art by Qu Muzi may not be reproduced without the prior
written presmission of Qu Muzi or Art Scene Warehouse, Shanghai.