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November 17, 2010

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Surreal world of broken and toppled chairs

PILES of colorful chairs with a crane perched on top, toppled chairs, broken chairs, buried chairs and empty chairs are part of Qin Qi's painting exhibition "Chairs Can Save Lives."

The 30-picture solo show at the Minsheng Art Museum is the first in its "Young Artists" series, aimed at fostering talent. Qin's "Chairs" series is just part of the picture; the exhibition includes enormous, daunting canvases with colorful and surreal, fantasy scenes.

One of the most striking paintings is dominated by an industrial barge and numerous unrelated objects: a frog, a pavilion, palm trees, a factory and smoke.

"Some say that my paintings form a strange space, but that's the visual effect I want. Actually I am not painting the real world, but some memory or something that occurs to me unconsciously," Qin says.

Other meters-long works are equally bizarre scenes, one with cactus, a giraffe, pandas, deer, cranes, pumpkins, a statue and other objects.

Born in the mid-1970s, Qin is a graduate from Lu Xun Art Academy in 2002 in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, where he lives and works.

"Believe it or not, that's the world I see through my eyes," he says. "It is something quite personal, but my peers would immediately understand my emotions and feelings."

Qin has painted since his childhood and says, "I really can't imagine what I would do if I didn't paint."

Qin also teaches at the art academy where he studied.

"I spent most of the day at my studio, and though it's not spacious enough, I feel my body and soul are totally relaxed," he says.

"Some people wonder how I can paint such large daunting works in such a small studio, but everything is in my mind and I can visualize everything," he adds.

"What I paint is not that important, but the atmosphere that permeates the scene is what counts," Qin says. "I regard the world as accidental, but with a profound logic."

The world he creates is neither reality nor dream, but something in between, evocative of the recent film "Inception."

"I am not creating a gulf between reality and dreams," says the artists. "On the contrary, the dream world is really the real world - the boundary within reach of one's imagination usually does not exceed the boundary drawn by reality."

Qin says he and his wife are expecting a child.

"Some say a baby will completely change existence," he notes. "I don't know whether it will be reflected in my art."

Date: through December 16 (closed on Mondays), 10am-9pm

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