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Cui Xiuwen is an important creative figure in China’s artistic landscape, and her art explores human spirituality and sexuality, as well as every day, candid life events. Some of her most famous work is the video work ‘Ladies Room’ (2000), where Cui hid a camera in the bathroom of a popular Beijing karaoke club, recording the unfiltered and casual conversations of local call girls. Her photo series ‘Existential Emptiness’ (2009) documents a schoolgirl and her life-sized doll, both of them set in empty, snowy landscapes, exploring themes of youth, transition, identity, and teenagehood. Her new set of oil paintings convey the artist’s new perception of the world in a series of abstract, sober geometrical shapes, mostly black and white straight lines over which are juxtaposed matt red or blue squares and circles.
Born in 1970 in Harbin, China, Cui Xiuwen graduated from the Fine Arts School of Northeast Normal University in 1990, and from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1996 with a Masters from the Oil Painting department, and currently lives and work in Beijing. Her works have been exhibited at Tate Modern London – the first Chinese artist to be invited to exhibited there –, the Florence Museum, Eli Klein Fine Art Gallery (New York), Today Art Museum in Beijing, and Blindspot Gallery (Hong Kong) amongst other. She was associated with Chinese Feminism, but disagreed with that categorisation as she deemed it limiting. It was when working with a television crew that she got inspired to use video as a medium for her art. Previously working on photography and video, the artist’s more recent works have been focusing on oil paintings.