Artist Spotlight: Cui Jie


The Tiroche DeLeon Collection is proud to dedicate this next artist spotlight to Cui Jie, former Artist in Residence at the Tiroche DeLeon Collection & ST-ART residency in Israel (November 2015).

Born in Shanghai, China in 1983, and currently based in Beijing, Cui’s career doesn’t seem to slow down. In 2016 she was selected by Hans Ulrich Obrist, uber-curator of the Serpentine Gallery, for an exhibition titled Hack Space which was shown in Hong Kong and Shanghai at the K11 Art Foundation. In 2017, Cui was named by Artsy in a feature about “17 Emerging Artists to Watch in 2017”. This year, two important galleries simultaneously announced her representation: Metro Pictures (New York) and Pilar Corrias (London); who join Antenna Space (Shanghai) and Mother’s Tankstation (Dublin). Initially, Cui was represented by Leo Xu Projects until the gallery was closed and its legendary founder, Leo Xu, was appointed Director of David Zwirner Gallery in Hong Kong.

Cui Jie, Ground Invading Figure #35, Oil on canvas, Tiroche DeLeon Collection.

Cui Jie’s oil paintings are inspired by the layered architecture of the three cities she has lived in, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Beijing – among the quickest developing regions in China. “Initially I did not have a concrete research topic, and only observed the surrounding buildings, neighborhoods, and plazas from the perspective of someone who was living there and passing by. Sometimes I stopped to see consciously, but other times I just hurried. These formed my memories and constituted my way of perceiving space.” She creates layers in her paintings, each brushstroke represents the change in China’s urban landscape – realistic and imaginary – referencing time and politics.

Cui paints through a futuristic lens and personal history as the city is a dynamic organism expanding at a rapid rate. Playing with past and present she studies the textures of the cityscape and the surfaces of architecture as it reflects in the sunlight. The shimmering glass of skyscrapers creates a blinding light and Jie takes the feeling of avoiding these bright surfaces in her art. She is captivated by the blending of sculptures and buildings – architecture becomes sculpture. She analyzes the Chinese design of architecture which appropriates Bauhaus and Russian styles, as well as Japanese Metabolism.

Cui Jie, Atarim Square, 2015, Oil on Canvas, START Collection.

In a 2016 interview with Phaidon Cui said, “I still follow a quite Modernist way of creation methodology, which infiltrates my art education and life. Architecture is experiencing history just like human beings. My paintings can be seen as my reinterpretation and re-perception of history.”

With the city ever-changing with new constructions every day Cui notes in a 2015 Surface magazine interview, “In my work, the thing I am most loyal to is change.”

In Cui’s “Ground Invading Figure” series, she draws inspiration from movies and pictures and brings to the center of her canvases the distances and the shapes which come to life when two characters meet. Cui is not interested in the story or the situation behind the encounter, instead, she offers us a different perspective that focuses on the movement and the inherent details rather than typical content, drawing us away from the obvious.

Cui Jie, Ground Invading Figure #28, Oil on canvas, START Collection

In summer 2018, Cui Jie will be participating in the inaugural FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, opening July 14 – September 30, 2018. Her architectural landscape paintings will be featured in the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio.

Cui Jie’s works artworks have been included in exhibitions at MoMA PS1, New York; Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; chi K11 Art Space, Shanghai; K11 Art Foundation, Hong Kong; CASS Sculpture Foundation, Chichester, United Kingdom; Tampa Museum of Art, Florida; and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. In 2016, she was featured in Phaidon Press’s Vitamin P3, a print survey of leading contemporary painters. In January 2018 she presented an exhibition titled The Enormous Space at OCAT Contemporary Art Terminal, Shenzhen.

We can’t wait for what’s next for Cui and are proud to have been an early stop on her ladder to international recognition as one of the leading painters of today.