Born in Taiwan, Qiu Yacai was exposed from a young age to western humanistic thinking and eastern philosophies. These influences naturally generated within him a passion for poetry and literature manifested through practice of Chinese calligraphy. In his art, the impact was visible in his adoption of European artist's techniques and mediums of application. As the exquisite Lady in Long Hair (Lot 1037) evidences, the elongated figure is reminiscent of early twentieth century Italian artist, Amedeo Modigliani's characters. A bright light illuminates the lady's face in the darkness of a somber room, yet it is the sorrow in her eyes that the viewer will see. Qiu's classical approach in color and composition is manifested by his fine but sharp strokes that delineate the figure and by a muted but bold color palette. The defined contours, often in black or blue ink reconnect him to his Oriental roots and passion for Chinese calligraphy where the hand remains steady yet is free to move.
Similarly in Artist (Lot 1036), Qiu uses blocks of color to enhance the expressiveness of his portraits. The whole image, except for the artist's face and hat, is flat; regardless his composition exudes a delicate elegance. Known to suffer of ataxophobia, the fear of chaos, and to lead a solitary life, Qiu nonetheless was able to beautifully transfer his bitterness and acridity into fascinating characters that inhabit his artworks. Through the simplicity of his strokes he has the ability to evoke complex feelings and moods.
In fact his paintings have a poetic, literary quality to them. At times emotions and moods are so dominant over his picture that Qiu can effectively be considered a poet. In Gentleman (Lot 1035), just as in Lady in Long Hair and Artist, it is not the figure itself that captivates the audience but the humility, arrogance, self-importance and fragility of humankind that lay deep below the surface. Mostly it is the solitude, the malaise common to humankind, of his figures that speaks the loudest. In Gentleman the character sits on a stool, in a manly position with his legs spread, but the holding himself behind the chair and with his head tilted denotes a feminine frailty. This unexpected combination immediately calls for empathy and tenderness.
In Blossom (Lot 1038), Qiu breaks away from the depiction of people to capture a ravishing still-life. The bouquet of Hydrangea and Peonies pops out of a bright red background, the fresh smell feels intense. Having broken away from academic constraints, Qiu is able to successfully create a style to call his own. It is in fact his effortless ease in painting and his capacity to catch such sophistication through apparently simple techniques that makes him so admired.