See emo­tions through a new per­spec­tive

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE | CULTURE - By LIN QI

Pho­tog­ra­phy’s pur­pose is to cap­ture slices of life and freeze them for eter­nity on paper. And, with new tech­nol­ogy, artists have moved be­yond re­al­is­tic de­pic­tions to mono­logues through pho­tog­ra­phy.

Pre­tend to Be Ro­man­tic, an ex­hi­bi­tion at Bei­jing’s Hui Art Space, is about the dis­tinc­tively ex­pres­sive ap­proaches to pho­tog­ra­phy of six artists from China and Ja­pan. Its cu­ra­tor, Shi Zheng, says the show is not about tech­niques but how pho­tog­ra­phers trans­form their in­stant, ro­man­tic emo­tions into the im­ages on display.

Eikoh Hosoe, 83, is known as the fa­ther of Ja­pa­nese ex­per­i­men­tal pho­tog­ra­phy. On show is a photo from his iconic Or­deal by Roses se­ries in col­lab­o­ra­tion with com­pa­triot Yukio Mishima in 1961.

Mishima, who was a noted au­thor, is seen kiss­ing a rose in a photo. His thick eye­brows, sharp eyes star­ing into the cam­era and naked shoul­ders are vis­i­ble in the same image.

The photo emits a mys­tic feel­ing that dis­tin­guishes Hosoe’s works. By high­light­ing Mishima’s mas­culin­ity, the pho­tog­ra­pher ex­plored the sub­ject of life and death. Years later, Mishima’s sui­cide in his prime made the se­ries sig­nif­i­cant.

Nobuyoshi Araki, 76, ap­proaches the theme of death most fa­mously with his pho­tos of fe­male bod­ies. His two se­ries on show, one of black-and-white pho­tos and an­other taken by in­stant cameras with color film, fo­cus on blos­som­ing flow­ers that rep­re­sent sexy women. But the flow­ers are said to smell bad, giv­ing a hint of death as a des­ti­na­tion of ev­ery one.

The me­dia quoted Araki as say­ing ear­lier: “Life and death are es­sen­tially an in­te­gra­tion.”

To­day’s young pho­tog­ra­phers are car­ry­ing on with more con­cep­tual, van­guard ex­per­i­ments as the ex­hi­bi­tion shows.

Bei­jing-based artist Chi Peng shows his pho­to­graphic in­stal­la­tions in which he pairs one photo with a mir­ror, with the au­di­ence be­ing able to see only the re­flec­tions of the pho­tos.

By do­ing so, Chi in­vites peo­ple to ex­am­ine the re­la­tion­ship be­tween two lovers and be­tween one’s true self and his or her phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance in oth­ers’ eyes, ac­cord­ing to cu­ra­tor Shi.

Chi says it’s be­come dif­fi­cult for new devel­op­ments in pho­tog­ra­phy. “Rather than how to pho­to­graph, one should fo­cus on what he wants to ex­press.”

Pho­tos of both Cheng Yi­nan and Yoshi­nori Mizu­tani are quite poetic. Cheng’s works of­fer a feel­ing of both mo­tion and aloof­ness, which is at­trib­uted to his stu­dent years in the United States.

Mizu­tani zooms in on the beauty of na­ture in his pho­tos of 2014, ti­tled Yusurika (buzzer midge in Ja­pa­nese). The small flies turn into white balls of light with cameras flashes and form a fan­tas­tic land­scape in his works.

Mizu­tani traces his close bond with na­ture to his child­hood, which he spent in a place sur­rounded by moun­tains, creeks, paddy fields and in­sects. He says af­ter he moved to Tokyo more than 10 years ago, he has been “seek­ing na­ture”, dream­ing of land­scapes of his child­hood.


The Or­deal by Roses se­ries by Eikoh Hosoe, a pi­o­neer of Ja­pa­nese ex­per­i­men­tal pho­tog­ra­phy.

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