Horror, despair—and facekinis. Welcome to the mind of Du Qiurui, a painter and illustrator who has been offering an unusual perspective on the fast-changing landscape of China. Du uses bright colors and thick lines to portray ordinary people in overcrowded scenes, together with disturbing objects and terrifying demons. His paintings represent the underlying tensions of modern Chinese society in a convoluted way, with aspects of dark humor.
Du was born in Beijing in the early 1990s to a single mother, the CEO of a design firm who worked around the clock. She’d occasionally travel abroad for work, bringing him along to see new places. Mostly, though, Du was raised by his grandmother, listening to her extraordinary stories. As an introverted child, he relied on these stories, as well as comic books and movies, to keep him company. “My childhood was a combination of reality and fantasy,” he recalls, “I built an imaginary world for myself.”
杜秋锐出生于 20 世纪 90 年代初北京的一个单亲家庭，他妈妈是一家设计公司的首席执行官，总是夜以继日地工作，也偶尔会去国外出差，带他一起去看看新的地方。不过杜秋锐基本上是由他外婆抚养，听外婆讲许多奇妙非凡的故事。作为一个内向的孩子，他依赖这些故事、漫画书和电影作为陪伴。“我的童年是现实与幻想的结合体，”他回忆道，“我为自己建立了一个想象的世界。”
As a young adult, Du moved to New York City, motivated by his artistic aspirations and by mainstream media. He went there to experience the local art scene and to study at The Parsons School of Design. While there, his style became heavily influenced by Western comics and noir, until one of his professors, the acclaimed Taiwanese painter Mu Pan, encouraged him to turn his attention inward. Du then started to view his childhood and his hometown in a new light.
Du has lived his whole life against the backdrop of China’s dizzying economic development. His hometown, Beijing, has been thoroughly transformed, and each time he returns he finds a new skyscraper going up or another hutong torn down. Landmarks from his childhood now exist only in memory, while new technology has opened up new views of the world. Yet, some things have remained the same: society is still very controlled, hierarchical, and conservative. “As a kid born in the ’90s, I want people from my generation to see my works and think: I know that, I experienced that, I understand that,” says Du. His work became a way for him to connect to his generation.
杜秋锐一生都生活在中国经济高速发展的背景下。他的家乡北京早已日新月异，每次他回来，都会发现一座新的摩天大楼正拔地而起，又或者看见另一座胡同正被拆毁。他童年时代的地标现在只存在于记忆中，崭新的技术开启了对世界的新视野。然而，有些东西仍然是一样的：社会仍然是饱受控制，且依旧保守、等级森严。“作为一个 90 年代出生的孩子，我希望我们这一代人能看到我的作品，并思考：我知道，我经历，我理解，我明白。”杜秋锐说。他的作品成了他和他那一代人联系的方式。
In his latest series of paintings, A Bizarre World, Du depicts busy urban scenes with ordinary people expressing strong emotions: anger, fear, boredom, joy. Some of them are fixated on mobile phones; others are using disturbing accessories, such as facekinis (basically swimsuit balaclavas). “In the West, people think facekinis are really creepy, but Chinese women wear them because they don’t want to get tanned. I think that’s hilarious!” Du likes to explore the contrasts between east and west, and tradition and modernity, to create striking juxtapositions in his work.
在他的最新系列画作《A Bizarre World》（《奇异的世界》）中，杜秋锐描绘了繁忙的城市场景，普通人表达了强烈的情感：愤怒、恐惧、无聊、喜悦。他们中的一些人专注于手机；另一些人则用着令人观感不适的配饰，如脸基尼。“在西方，人们认为‘脸基尼’很恐怖，但中国女性因为不想被晒黑而穿着它们，我觉得这很好笑！”他喜欢探索东西方、传统与现代之间的差异，在作品中创造出鲜明的对比。
The most bizarre elements, such as green goblins and people-eating monsters, are oblique metaphors for the anxieties and fears of China’s twenty-somethings. Growing up in a confusing, contradictory world, this generation sometimes feels a stronger connection to people from elsewhere than to their own country. China can seem like a weird and nonsensical land. Du is also confused, and he often wonders: “Is it China that’s changed, or just me?”
Du now divides his time between Beijing and New York City, where he’s pursuing his Masters in Painting and Drawing at the Pratt Institute. He’s doing research on the LGBT community and intends to explore this topic through his artwork. This is another latent issue for young Chinese people. Viewers should expect the usual dose of horror and dark humor.
杜秋锐现在在北京和纽约两地工作，在普瑞特艺术学院攻读绘画硕士学位。他正在做关于 LGBT 群体的研究，并打算通过他的作品探索这个话题。这是中国年轻人面临的另一个隐藏的问题。观众将会看到杜秋锐往常作品中惯有的恐怖和黑色幽默。