• Sonnets, Mirrors, and Necromancy Artists: Maleonn Curator: Zheng Ziyu As an artist who possesses the temperament of both a poet...

    Sonnets, Mirrors, and Necromancy


    Artists: Maleonn

    Curator: Zheng Ziyu


    As an artist who possesses the temperament of both a poet and a craftsman, Maleonn is obsessed with allegory and mythology, nostalgia and vintage pieces, and the most sentimental, fragile, and even neurotic fragments of life. Time and memory are his signature themes. For years, the mirror has been one of many intersecting, hidden clues buried in his work. Mirrors are a metaphor for imagination, secrecy, life, and death; the exhibition untangles these interlocking clues through the image of the mirror, in order to connect three series that span almost ten years.


    When shooting Fantasy of Improbable, Maleonn used a set of bellows to combine a mirror from the late Qing dynasty with his camera lens, making the broken mirror an intermediary. The series was shot at Kaiyuan Temple, a famous Buddhist temple in Quanzhou, Fujian. He photographed bamboo, chrysanthemums, and peach blossoms, as well as Buddha statues, temple buildings, and even beetles on the surface of the mirror, which create visual layers and textures with the mottled mirror. He interprets a line from the Diamond Sutra: "All things are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, a shadow." The photographs are visualizations of Buddhist verses. 


    In Faramite FlowerPoetry for Unknown from Old Photos, Maleonn uses a large-format industrial scanner to "photograph" pictures taken by unknown people in old Shanghai. Scanning is not a way of deriving visual materials; it is a re-translation of the finished shot. An old photograph on glass is surrounded by flowers like a grave. He also includes scattered vintage objects or animal skeletons. The light tube sliding across the screen is much like one stranger summoning the spirits for another.


    Sonnet of Life and Death features classic Maleonn installations, which are a mixture of punk and sentimentality. However, the difference is that this series is much emptier, compared to the intricacy and fullness of his previous work. The imagery of life and death find a temporary balance, but the boundary between them could break at any time; the symmetry of the mirror is a metaphor for life and death, the real and illusory. 


    The mirror is an interface between the ordinary world and another space. Maleonn creates his own hidden path. He is a willful necromancer in a crazy time when memory is rapidly being crushed. 

  • From 'Faramite Flower-poetry for unknow from old photos' series. 2020
  • From 'Faramite Flower-poetry for unknow from old photos' series. 2020
  • From 'Faramite Flower-poetry for unknow from old photos' series. 2020
  • Artist Maleonn Born in 1972 in Shanghai, Maleonn now lives and works in Shanghai. He studied art since childhood, and...




    Born in 1972 in Shanghai, Maleonn now lives and works in Shanghai.


    He studied art since childhood, and graduated from Shanghai Huashan Fine Arts School and Fine Arts College, Shanghai University. From 1995 to 2003, Maleonn worked as an art director and director of advertising films. Since 2003, he have embarked on photography creation, has held more than 30 solo exhibitions around the world and participated in over 100 major photography and contemporary art group exhibitions. He has been nominated for CCAA Chinese Contemporary Art Award, IDAA (International Digital Art Award) in Queensland, Australia, Outstanding Achievement Award and Gold Award in Art Photography of the 4th Black & White Spider Photography Awards in London, UK, Gold Medal for Outstanding Work in the 8th Trierenberg Super Circuit (Austria), and Gold Award in Professional Panorama Photography category of DN International Photography Award in Warsaw, Poland.


    In 2012, he initiated the art project "Studio Mobile", for which he installed his studio into a truck and a station wagon. During the 10-month travel, he visited 35 cities in China and took more than 30,000 wedding photos and family portraits for 1,600 strangers free of charge in his makeshift photo studio. More than 20,000 people signed up for the project, making it one of the most renowned art projects of contemporary photography in 2012. With this project, the artist was awarded one of the China's Top 10 Outstanding Photo Artists of the First Golden Panda Award by Chengdu Contemporary Image Museum (2019); the Silver Award of Photography of the A’Design Award (2017) and the Art Project of the Year Award byThe Outlook Magazine (2013).


    In tribute to his father, a former theatre director, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, he spent three years from 2014 to 2017 completing a large-scale stage play “Pappa’s Time Machine”, featuring puppets of a man’s height. The play debuted in North America in 2019, and was awarded for Best Cinematography in Tribeca Film Festival, New York, Best Documentary in Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Best Documentary in Asian American International Film Festival, The First Best Documentary Award, Moscow, Belarus, Best Director of New Zealand DOCAGE Documentary Film Festival, one of the highlights at Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, Top 30 Documentaries of the Year by the American Documentary Association.


    In the second half of 2017, he returned to photography creation and continued to work with this medium.

  • Curator Zheng Ziyu Born in 1985 in Shantou, Zheng Zhiyu now lives and works in Guangzhou. He is a Postdoctoral...


    Zheng Ziyu


    Born in 1985 in Shantou, Zheng Zhiyu now lives and works in Guangzhou.


    He is a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate Researcher at the School of Communication and Design, Sun Yat-sen University; Chief Curator at Ultimate Vision. He worked as a senior editor at the Visual Center of Southern Metropolis Daily, commissioning and coordinating editor of Visual Weekly, and the visual consultant of Caixin Media. He is now engaged in visual communication and contemporary photography research, curating and art criticism writing.


    As a curator and editor, Zheng Ziyu's research and curatorial involvement is in two dimensions of photography as a social record and a kind of contemporary art medium. In July 2018, he curated the exhibition "Deceased Records: A Image Survey of the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River, the Jinsha River and the Nujiang River" at O Art Center, Shanghai, which later toured to Yuezhong Museum of Historical Images in November 2018, and Sun Yat-sen University in November 2019. From 2016 to 2018, he co-edited Magnum China (published by Thames & Hudson) for Magnum Photos in collaboration with Colin Pantall. In September, 2016, he curated the exhibition "Magnum Contacts Sheets: the Birth of Classical Photography" at the Shenzhen University Art Museum. Other curatorial projects include "Aftermath" at the Dali International Photography Exhibition in August 2013; "The Underside of History" at Lianzhou Poto in November 2013, all focusing on possibilities for photography to reveal the truth and promote social progress. In June 2020, he published the book "China in the Lens of Foreign Photographers" (CITIC Press Group).


    In November 2019, he curated "Between Painting and Image" at Lingnan Art Museum (co-curated with Yang Xiaoyan). Earlier co-curated projects also include "Another View of Image: Experimental Field of Light" at Hubei Art Museum (co-curated with Yang Xiaoyan and Ji Shaofeng). The exhibition "A Different Way: Departing from Guangdong" at Art Guangdong in September 2014, focuses on  experimentation on media, exploration of the boundary and fusion of photography in the contemporary art world.


    He was awarded China's Top 10 Photo Editors, the Guangdong Province Photo Editor of the Year Award, and nominated for China's Outstanding Photography Curator Pegasus Award, among other honors.