Qi Zhilong was discovered by well reputed art critic Li Xianting in 1992 while working at the Yuan Ming Yuan artists' village; at the time he was painting his Consumer icon series where his Political Pop art stems from the incorporation of humor, absurdity and irony through the use of commercial symbols and socialist totems of political implications. In Consumer icon 2B (Lot 1402) Qi portrayed a woman without facial features in swimwear which is juxtaposed with the kitschy rose patterned wallpaper embedded with Chairman Mao's portraits. It is this kitsch and colorful canvas of his Consumer icon series that first caught the art world's attention. After 1995 he shifted to create painting with more depth and cultural indication in the Revolutionary Girl series. Revolutionary Girl (Lot 1429) depicted a young girl suited in a military uniform that recalls on the glorious era of communism, where military attire was once considered the symbol of ultimate power and was fashionable among the youth. Qi's romanticization of military attire suggests the non-materialistic spirit of the past, consequently his painting is a critique on issues in consumerism that perplexes Chinese society today. As such this latter period stands in strong contraposition to the consumerist image Qi initially conveyed. Nonetheless, visible elements are brought forward as China Girl (Lot 1430) evidences, manifesting a continuity of the artist's stream of consciousness. In his expression and the purposeful choice of the female image, there is a play that never loses its commercial appeal. It symbolizes the transition from idealism to materialism. From its theme to its way of expression, this work holds onto the principle of commercialism and displays a satiric implication that calls for contemplation.
Revolutionary Girl , was exhibited in Ray Hughes' first solo exhibition in Sydney of Qi Zhilong's work and entered the prominent Australian collection of Dr. Hughes at this time, it has also travelled to London for the extensive survey of Chinese contemporary art Seven Characters, at London's Mayor Gallery, curated by Dr. Hughes' son, evan Hughes. Ray Hughes, the Australian art dealer first encountered Chinese contemporary art when visiting China in the late 1990s. On the first day of 2000 he met Uli Sigg at his home who showed Hughes his collection and proceeded to put him into contact with a number of the Chinese contemporary artists with whom the Swiss collector had been working. Principal amongst these artists was Qi Zhilong who formed a very close bond with Ray Hughes and his gallery, exhibiting many times in group and solo exhibitions at the Sydney Gallery amongst other leading artists such as Liu Xiadong, Liu Wei, Zeng Fanzhi, Feng Zhengjie, Luo Brothers and others. Qi Zhilong was in the first exhibition at Ray Hughes Gallery of Chinese contemporary art in 2001, The New Face of China.