Qiu's Portrait of Mao is a humorous play on words: "mao" means "cat" in Chinese. In traditional Chinese painting, an image of a cat holds special significance. Often coupled with a butterfly (to create "mao-die" or "long life"), it can be used to bestow a blessing. Rendered with the pastoral detail and calligraphy inscription of Song Dynasty masterworks, Qiu's drawing takes equal inspiration from eastern philosophies of beauty and wisdom and the kitsch populism of western artists such as Cassius Coolidge (of Dogs Playing Poker fame). Meticulously drafted in lead on paper, Qiu's sentimental homage offers a surrealist vision that's alchemically toxic, and seductively coy.
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