Born in 1948 in Shanghai, Qiu Deshu is an experimental artist in China and an exponent of contemporary Chinese ink-wash painting. In 1979 he established the Grass Painting Society in Shanghai to promote the uniqueness of art, and his experimental ink-wash later became the main focus of his artistic pursuit. In 1985, he was invited to Tufts University, Harvard, and University of Arizona to lecture and produce mural paintings. During this period the innovative breakthrough of Western art had a great impact on him and set the tone for his 'fissures' or 'crack' painting idiom which he has used for the last 30 years. Over the course of these 30 years, Qiu's works have evolved from simplicity to complexity, and it is these very 'fissures' that reveal how this evolution progressed. During the 1980s Qiu employed the technique of puncturing or penetrating paper with forceful application of the brush to create the textures of the cracks. Drawing inspiration from the cracks in worn and mottled stone slates, Qiu adapted the line and contours of such complex and delicate fissures to his creative work. Making use of the unique characteristic of xuan paper, he first soaked the paper and then cut it with a sharp instrument to create rough and deckled edges which, in turn, exposed the lower layers. These exposed layers of xuan paper thus became the evolving process of 'fissuring' and 'change'. Around 2000, Qiu's revisited traditional Chinese landscape painting in this series. The work, Crack: Red Rock and Snow Peak, is Qiu's Chinese landscape painting produced in 2011. Mountains and rocks are realistically depicted in the painting with no empty space between them. The mountain cluster stretches towards the distant horizon. Both Qiu's landscape composition and the work Temple on a Snowing Mountain, by the Northern Song painter Fan Kuan, exhibit tiers of mountains randomly positioned yet arranged in a way that conveys a poetic atmosphere. However, Fan Kuan's paintings and mountians possess a vivid and lifelike quality, while Qiu's Crack: Red Rock and Snow Peak portrays the raw strength of mountains, and carries a visual impact that reveals a sense of simplicity in the vigour of rich colours.
The enhancement of 'delineation' and the gradual addition of layers of color in mural painting are the two major painting elements that Qiu used to transform traditional Chinese landscape into its present form. Crack: Red Rock and Snow Peak exhibits modern elements such as imagery, variety, and two-dimensional description. Unlike the French Cubist George Braque's work, Violin and Palette, Qiu's art emphasizes the exposed layers of xuan paper, which accentuates the sense of each level of the mountains, while Braque's work stacks sliced cubes, conveying a three-dimensional idea in a two-dimensional expression. Qiu's fissuring style expresses a deeper sense of humanity, the pulse of society, and feelings toward a changing environment.