"IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY IDEAL TO PURSUIT A SENSE OF GRACE IN THE CHARACTERS OF MY PAINTINGS. THEY EXUDE DESOLATION AND MELANCHOLY - SUCH FEELINGS PRECISELY REFLECT THE HARDSHIP THAT I HAVE BEEN THROUGH IN MY LIFE. THIS IS WHY I HAVE DEDICATED MY LIFE TO BECOMING AN EXCELLENT ARTIST." QIU YACAI.
Taiwanese writer and painter Qiu Yacai was born in the county of Yilan in 1949. Not having received any formal art education, he was mostly self taught by drawing inspirations from literary classics. While writing prolifically, he explored the nuances of humanity with his paint brush. The bold brushwork empathetically captured the essence of each unique character and made them unforgettable. With these characters who were created solely from his imagination, Qiu Yacai not only demonstrated his talent as a confident artist, but he also expressed the incredible adversities in his life. Man with a Patterned Hat (Lot 126) has a dark and sombre background. The man in the painting wears a black beard that starkly contrasts with his brightly patterned hat. His gaze conveys a sense of alienation, or perhaps he is lost in thought. His expression is tinged with oppressed emotions and resilience despite tragedy. The elongated face and the inscrutable emotional state of this portrait make this work a mirror that reflects the prevailing sense of loneliness in the artist's inner world. It also shows his dedication to formal aesthetics. Artists are frequent subjects of Qiu Yacai's works - the figure in 40-Year-Old Painter (Lot 127) holds a palette with his left hand and a paint brush with his right. Looking slightly frustrated, he gazes at the viewer as if he yearns for attention. Inspired by Picasso, Qiu Yacai used massive amount of blue to convey an atmosphere of forlornness. The Forceful Man (Lot 170) is a classic example of this treatment. The man in the painting puts his hands in the pockets of his long coat, and it makes his lanky figure even more lonesome. Quietness (Lot 128) depicts an attractive woman sitting elegantly with her back to the viewer. Her body language and countenance make her very unapproachable. True to Qiu Yacai's distinct sense of aesthetics, he combined the bold and unmodulated colour planes of Modernism and the enchanting lines of the Chinese classical lady paintings. In contrast, Portrait of a Gentleman (Lot 171) and Untitled (Lot 172) both use earth tones to express the cultivation of the literati. With the arms folded in front of his chest, the figure perfectly expresses the state of mind of an emancipated recluse - this echoes Qiu Yacai's belief of "The core of my being is self-reliant. It is not dependent on outside validation".