Galleria Continua
San Gimignano
Les Moulins
Sao Paulo

B. 1969, Zhangzhou, Fujian Province, China

Qiu Zhijie is a leading figure in conceptual art and new media. The artist, writer, curator and teacher has earned critical recognition worldwide for his thought and practice of “total art”, which forges new cultural meanings from various philosophies and systems of thought from all time and everywhere. Qiu’s first investigations gave shape to multimedia installations using organic material, ancient and found objects, photography and video, often with interventions and performances.

Since about 2010, Qiu has been mapping the imaginary networks of his sociological, philosophical, cultural, political and epistemological research. A virtuoso calligrapher, ink painter and landscape  cartographer, Qiu was commissioned to create Map of Theatre of the World (2017) for the exhibition Art and China after 1989 AL Guggenheim Museum in New York.

In the work "Map of China - Arabia", currently present in our Beijing gallery, Qiu Zhijie continue his ‘Mapping the World Project’.

Map of China - Arabia


ink on paper

370 x 880 cm

145,66 x 346,45 in

unique work

“ In 2010, Hans Ulrich Obrist asked me to paint “Map of the 21 Century” for  he Digital Life Design conference in Munich. 

Actually, it wasn’t the first time that I made a map. During such exhibitions as “Ataraxic of Zhuangzi” and “Breaking the Ice”, I put maps near the trance to show the positions of my works and their interconnections. Even before  hat, when I wandered around Tibet and Xinjiang in the beginning of 90’s, when I was the curator of the “Long March” project, I was already fascinated with collecting and creating maps. I have never gotten lost, because there is always a map in my head. At the end of 2011, I was shortlisted for the Hugo Boss Prize in the Guggenheim museum.”

I was supposed to give out photographs of my works for a catalog; every contender had only six pages to do that. There was no way that I could introduce myself on merely six pages. Six pages are not even enough to introduce such slightly complicated work as “Railway from Lhasa to Katmandu” (the work itself is connected to the concept of a map; maps were also included in the body of it).” 

It was completely out of the question for such an enormous project as the Nanjing Yangzi River Bridge. That’s why I decided to draw maps. That’s how a greedy person can put unlimited information within a limited amount of space. This set of maps described all my work in total. The “Map of the 21 Century” is the result of my research on futurology and eschatology. The “Map of Utopia” is a set of political ideologies. The “Map of Total Art” describes the framework of my work in general, especially my work as a teacher. The “Map of Reactivation” is a mind map of the whole curatorial work on the Shanghai Biennale. Finally, the “Map of the Nanjing Yangzi River Bridge” thoroughly outlines a large-scale art project that took most of my capacities in the last few years.

In 2012, I held the post of curator of the Shanghai Biennale. I think that a curator is a person who sets up relations, just like a cartographer. I graduated from the printmaking department of the Zhejiang Academy of Art; therefore, among curators, I’m probably the best at drawing. I don’t have to write a long article as a curatorial statement. Instead, I can make some maps complimented with comments. So, in 2012, I made twelve artistic maps. After that, there were more.

Mapping has provided me with a method to bring together research, writing, imagination and action. I spent many years experimenting with creation, writing, curating, education; people often ask me the question of my identity.

“Who are you after all?” “I’m in-between”, I used to answer cunningly.

Now I say, “I am a cartographer”.

Now, my mapping work has developed into the “Mapping the World Project”; after all, every map embodies the whole world.

All Living Things series: Man with destiny -

out of border


ink on paper and canvas

146 x 183 cm

57,5 x 72 inch

unique work

‘All Living Things Series I: Typology’ includes maps created using palm lines and facial structures complemented with commentary notes, discussing historical laws using various identities and roles, such as A Fatuous Ruler, An Imperious Official, A Hermit, A Flood Preventer, A Confucian Businessmen, A Sentimental Person and so on.

In ‘All Living Things Series II: Realism’ all characters and events portrayed were real.

‘All Living Things Series III: Ought to Be Like This’, the second stage of this series, speculates the possible palm lines of real historical figures based on their life events.

The historical figures include Zhang Juzheng (Grand Secretary during the Ming dynasty, credited with bringing the dynasty to its peak), Jin Shengtan (an editor, writer, and critic), Li Hongzhang (Qing dynasty general, politician, and diplomat),Yuan Shikai (a senior general of late Qing, subsequent warlord, and self- proclaimed emperor of China), Xuan Tong (the last Qing emperor), Sun Yat-Sen (the first president of the Republic of China), Zhang Xueliang (senior general of the Nationalists and subsequently the People’s Liberation Army), Lin Biao (Chinese army leader at the time of Cultural Revolution), etc.

Racing Against Time


exhibition views

Galleria Continua San Gimignano

Qiu Zhijie is not just an internationally established artist but also a key point of reference on the Chinese art scene. His artistic practice embraces calligraphy, poetry, teaching, criticism and curating. Thinker, activist and cartographer, Qiu is a multi-faceted intellectual figure, and his work is articulated through an all-inclusive practice which in Chinese is called Guangtong art. The term encompasses various different meanings. It is the expression of individual freedom whilst respecting social responsibilities,

it is the concurrence between rational analysis and impulse, it is the harmonic interaction between the different spheres of action in which we engage with. And finally it is the reciprocally advantageous fellowship between the explosive experience of making art and the experience of everyday living. “Art does not just concern the work produced, but also the more general environment to which the work reacts; it is a complete practice,”

says the artist. It cannot but engage, then, with real life, society, politics and history, both that of our own age and that of the past.

Racing Against Time, the project conceived by the artist for the gallery’s large ground-floor rooms, takes the form of an archaeological site: “It is like a palaeontological dig and a time machine of humanity. Looking back in time to the dinosaur kingdom, the bird kingdom and the mammal kingdom, the whole history of evolution is based on the survival of the fittest. The theme of this exhibition is the battle of powers and the war between empires. It dwells upon the dichotomy of these two logics”, comments Qiu.

Map of Mythology


Chinese ink on paper

245 x 125 cm

96,5 x 49,2 inch

unique work

Imaginary Geography


ink on paper and canvas

244 x 366 cm

96 x 144 inch

unique work