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  • Aug 03, 2018

Obituary: Cui Xiuwen (1967–2018)

Prominent Chinese contemporary artist CUI XIUWEN passed away on August 2, aged 48. Pictured: Cui in her Beijing studio in 2014. Photo by Michael Young for ArtAsiaPacific.

On August 1, Chinese contemporary artist Cui Xiuwen passed away at the age of 51, after a long period of illness. 

The Beijing-based artist, born in China’s Heilongjiang province, earned her Master of Fine Arts in oil painting in 1996 from China’s Central Academy of Fine Arts. Since then, her practice has evolved to include conceptual photography, moving image and installation. Her works deal with a wide number of themes including identity and the self, societal issues, and womanhood. 

Cui was one of the most important contemporary female artists in China, and in 2004 was the first Chinese artist to be exhibited at London’s Tate Modern, in “Untitled: Julia Loktev, Julika Rudelius, Cui Xuiwen.” Featured was one of Cui’s most well known works, Ladies' Room (2000), in which the artist used a hidden camera to film the behind-the-scenes conversations of women who worked at a Beijing escort club. The film explored female sexuality against a background of a rapidly developing China, and is now in the permanent collection of the Centre Pompidou in Paris. 

Her most recent solo exhibition was “Light” in 2016 as part of the Dame Jillian Sackler International Artists Exhibition Program of the Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology at Peking University in Beijing, and consisted of one site-specific installation. Using light—with its many cultural connotations for God, the heavens, peace or enlightenment—Cui represented the body, heart, soul and life as an investigation of being. Her new series, concerned with the Buddha, is currently on show at the museum as part of “Intersection: International Art and Culture,” on view until August 27.

Cui was a multi-award winning artist, and in 2010 received the “Most Influential Artist of the Year” title at the Award of Art China. Cui’s works have been recognized and exhibited internationally, including at MoMA PS1, New York; the Ullens Foundation, Belgium; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and National Museum of China, Beijing.

Christie Wong is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.

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