Qinghai Lake

1 January - 13 February 2022 Beijing



The Blue Lake, The Image of Amdo

by Zhang Hongwei


Photography is a sensitive medium. As the main creative tool of current artists, it has the ability to respond to  forms which are difficult to define and ever-changing. Among the photography creators in Northwest Qinghai, the works of Chunjian and Ren Jianjun are like archaeologists, constructing and deconstructing reality through the cutting, editing and combination of negatives (or pixels), and reaching the depths and core of Tibet.


As a learner of enriching Tibetan culture, Chunjian's protection of traditions and artistic creation are inseparable from the recasting of religious themes. Chunjian's work "Blue Lake" (2020-2021) contains three parts, the photography work "Qinghai Lake", the articles "Tsowenbu", and the sculpture "Wisdom System”.


In "Qinghai Lake", Aka, who ran towards the lake in singing, disappeared into the background of the lake and the sky. The minimalism element setting opens up contemplation while losing the narrative. At the end, the traffic report brought the meditation back to the cold reality. "Tsowenbu" and "Wisdom System" are like answers expressed in the form of questions. While questioning, they also show that "An artist's ideological integration that integrates cultural consciousness, local knowledge writers, active reflectors, and bystanders.”


Chunjian strives to take pictures like Tillmans, which means that he agrees with the belief in direct photography. This brief is highly sensitive to nature, and has a passion for mysterious and distant things. In "Yashiga" (2017-2019), Chunjian uses landscape photos instead of the landscape itself to depict a mediating reality. The history contained in the images is connected, demonstrating the toughness of the traditional medium of photography.


Ren Jianjun's "Qu Yuan" (2010-2020) is a practice of Chinese new objectivist photography, a presentation of Chinese new land-based photography, and a representative work of China's western wildernessism. "In "Qu Yuan", Ren Jianjun discarded the imagination of the west and his homeland, and instead gave all his poetry and wisdom to the earth." In the long ten-year period starting in 2010, his images bypassed the illusion in the glory of the beautiful rivers, He walked alone, and met the nature silently. This was a patient waiting and staring at each other. Today, when we look at the silent classical aesthetic sentiment in these black-and-white images, it is not difficult to appreciate his ten-year journey of sharpening a sword.


“ ‘Qu Yuan’ is the last affectionate and sentimental farewell between me and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which gave me the source of inspiration." It sounds like that Ren Jianjun is describing a long love affair like a lover…


The purpose of bringing together the works of the two artists is to present the order of the Amdo Tibetan area in the current time and space from the visual interconnection and the poetic narrative relationship between the works, and to reveal the living quality and quality of the Northwest Plateau in silence. This imaginative gaze invites us to experience the purity and beauty of the real Tibetan environment by watching and thinking.



  • Qinghai Lake Tibetan calls "Tsowenbu" which means the blue lake; Tibetan areas are divided into three major regions: Uizang, Khampa, and Amdo according to their dialects. Amdo is very vast. It includes all of Qinghai except Yushu, Gannan and Hexi in Gansu, and Aba in western Sichuan.
  • Zhang Wei, "Comment on "The Blue Lake", published in the public account of Cube Art Guan, August 1, 2020.
  • Chen Youwei, "The Significance of Ren Jianjun", published in the Dongtuceng Wechat official account, February 11, 2020.




About artists:


Chun Jian


Born in 1981 in Huangnan, Qinghai Province, he now lives in Xining, Qinghai Province. Photographer, head of art institutions. His efforts have opened up more possibilities for contemporary art activities in Northwest China. The images of soda soda come from the familiar daily life of the Amdo Tibetan area. In recent years, Caustic soda has focused his lens on his own unique unmanned space, such as doors, Windows, roads, cars, or just the seemingly simple geometrical structure. These strong and quiet images fully immerse the viewer. The visual traction created by the composition of the picture not only makes people more focused on the subject of their attention, but also gives people space for infinite reveries. This series of images between the concrete and abstract works. Make in today's age of saturated color and image, soda still maintains a firm to calm and slow.


Ren Jianjun(b.1971)


Born in Yan'an, Shaanxi Province, lives in Xining, Qinghai Province. He is a freelance photographer and an independent artist. He was once a signing photographer of Getty Images in the United States and a contributor of EPA in Germany. He has long been concerned about western China. He used to take news photography and documentary photography, and now mainly he studies and takes contemporary image.


About curator:


Zhang Hongwei (b.1983) 


A curator, an artist, and a video collector who graduated from Northwest Normal University and Central Academy of Fine Arts. He also has been known for some different identities which are the founder of West Gallery, the curator of Cube Art Gallery, and the principal of Lanying Club, Director Leica Gallery, Founder of Xi 'an Art Book Fair.Now he lives and works in Shanghai and Lanzhou.