One of the themes of Cui Jie’s paintings of cities has been the modernization, the growth of the urban landscape, and the monotonous contemporary architectural style. Cui displays her nostalgia for the past and an apparently idealistic inquiry for the future environment under her brushstrokes, connecting and interconnecting visions of the past and present and therefore evoking the viewer’s collective melancholy.
The Bauhaus, Chinese propaganda, Soviet aesthetics, and the artist’s own experiences of living in three of China’s rapidly changing metropolises—Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Beijing—all serve as sources of inspiration. Acrylic, spray paint, coloured pencil, and other materials are used in Cui’s elaborately layered works of art. On occasion, the artist could even sketch directly on torn-out drafting paper.