Liu Qing’s art is a quiet activity. Since 2000, once a year, she buys an 82 feet long length of fine silk and spends the next twelve months with a brush and acrylic paint marking its surface with tight, rigid patterns, concentric circles or squares. It’s an act of supreme concentration, meditative even, that forms part of a routine in which she and Weiwei spend their days working at their studio in the relatively quiet Caochangdi district of Northeast Beijing. “We live in a village where artistic life is separate from the public sphere. At home is where most of my life happens – I live a very quiet, low-key life, with my close circle at friends. I do not make many public appearances at all”. And indeed, without this self-imposed isolation, Lu Qing, distractions would be an impediment to creating such disciplined works.
An internationally recognized artist in her own right, Lu Qing was born in 1964 in Shenyang, the capital of China’s Liaoning province in the Northeast, before arriving in Beiing when she was 16 to enrol at art school. With both herparents having backgrounds in the arts, she had been warned not to follow in their steps in the fear of any recurrence of the persecution and imprisonment of artists that occurred during the Cultural Revolution. Qing had decided to apply anyway, and quickly disagreed with an “institutional education system that standardized art into ‘right or wrong’. I was very rebellious throughout my eight years against this old system”.
It was a period of the 1980s that a group of Beijing-based artists such as Zhang Huan and Ma Liuming were creating provocative, often masochistic performance pieces that involved blood, chains and even insects. Later grouped together under the label “Beijing East Village” artists, Qing surprisingly tells us that she felt as if these works were created in a different city. “Those performances didn’t really influence me. Instead, I became an artist to focus on my own interests”.in London, his wife Lu Qing arrives at the tail end of the Frieze Art Fair in place of Weiwei. Ostensibly, she’s in the city to receive an Award For Courage on her husband’s behalf from Bianca Jagger’s Human Rights Foundation, yet at the last minute declines the invitation, stating that she’s “too shy” to pick up the Marc Quinn designed prize at a star-studded Swarovski sponsored gala held at the Philips de Pury auction house. Instead, she’s here to breath in London’s art and air. “It’s nice to get out”, she says through her translator and furniture designer friend Jingjing Naihan Li. “To get away from the pollution, on so many levels”. Lu Qing followed by her company lawyer Xia Lin, leaves a cafe as they head to the Beijing Local Taxation Bureau, China, Thursday, July 14, 2011.