A REFUGE OF THE MIND
I’ve never been to Huangshan, but the first time I saw Wang Wusheng’s work, I was drawn in by his imagery – his skill of portraying Huangshan in photographs. It is not easy to use photography to express a place made famous by its association with traditional landscape painting.
Huangshan has stood at the centre of Wang Wusheng’s life work. The first time he climbed the mountain in 1974, he felt a strong connection. He described the feeling as: “Far from earth, yet at the heart of the universe. My mind had never been so wide open before. For 5 or 6 hours I stayed on the mountain, forgetting all my troubles. In the silence, there was a kind of sound. That is the source of my inspiration.”
At the beginning of 1984 he left his hometown to study in Japan. But he told himself this move was just temporary, and that he would return with an even deeper admiration. He promised himself that when he next climbed his holy mountain, it would be with songs on his lips.
Today, we see his series of photographs of Huangshan: that stone, that cloud, that fog, that pine. Blurring the real, his superb darkroom skills turn his refuge of the mind material, …some boldly “black”, some extraordinarily “white”. Wang Wusheng’s space-time shift is a true inheritor of the essence of traditional Chinese landscape painting that is thousands of years old, expressed by modern means. Camera, lens, shutter, his body’s effort, climbing the seventy-two peaks to reach the edge of “heaven on earth.”
It is said that in ancient times, the Yellow Emperor sought longevity herbs on the mountain. But today, 40 year old Wang Wusheng climbs Huangshan, not to find herbs to extend his life, but to leave us with a wealth of art treasures!
People say that when you go to Huangshan, you should use your own eyes to see it. Likewise, with Wang Wusheng’s work, you should use your own eyes to see it.