Still Life: Chinese Contemporary Photography 2009 Europalia China Photography Exhibition

27 February - 10 April 2010

Participating artists: Adou, Hong Hao, Hong Lei, Huang Lei, Li Yongbin, Ling Hua, Mo Yi, Qiu, RongRong & inri, Ruan Xiaorong, Xiong Wenyun, Zhao Liang


Photography is an art that fixes the constant changes of the world into an image. It reveals both the still appearance of subjects as well as their inherent fluctuations. Since its introduction in China, more than a hundred years ago, the medium has gone through many phases. In the mid-90s, people started to notice the emergence of Chinese contemporary photography and its development over the following ten years went hand in hand with a period of immense historical change in China. However, its significance does not lie solely in its reflection of society. Each artist developed very distinct styles – aside from the art world's own rules, factors like their environment and interpretation of reality also played a role in the creation of their works. The transformations in China during this period were gradual, yet the accumulated effect of these changes eventually produced an upheaval as great as a sudden revolution.


It is with this in mind that we did our selection. The works of these artists do not explicitly reveal “The Novelties of China” or “China's Great Changes.” Instead, they demonstrate each artist's independent understanding of life and art and capture their ideals about humanity through the interplay of art and reality, thus embodying the culture of this generation. In the course of observing and questioning themselves, these artists have touched the very core of reality. They use the artistic method of their choice to meld art and experience, and amidst this sea of changes, continue existing, experiencing, and creating.


They were born and raised during an era of huge transformations. One can see their work as very regionalized and full of symbols, a view often applied to Chinese contemporary art at large. However, if one delves deeper into their creative circumstances or the connotations of their work, one discovers multiple layers of possible understandings and points of entry. These artists express their views on life from many different perspectives, putting their heart into their work. In this rapidly changing, complicated era, they attempt to broach the question of life, a question that each of us my face. Through their images, emotions, and wisdom, these artists allow us to go beyond our own limited perspectives on the world.