The wild, elegant, young, intimate, and rakish passions, the wasted intimacy of youth and love, the enviable aura and fashion, and the mysterious flowers deep in the Himalayas are all dreamy illusions.
Sun Ruixiang's impulse to take photographs started with runway shows, and his work is often driven by his innate intuition. His pictures have a fluid wildness, sincerity, and directness, full of sensuality and vitality. In contrast to other runway photographers, he was an insider because he was a model, so he was training his lens on his own world, instead of objectifying his subjects.
After several years of working closely with Karl Lagerfeld, he gained insight into this glittering world. Commercial photography became an important part of Sun's work after he returned to China, as well as his interface for energy exchange with the world. He always has an impulse to escape, hoping that it will allow him to constantly search for and explore the mysterious power flowing in his life. Reading Carl Jung's works of psychology and regular practice in the mountains are part of this search.
Strange Days reveals Sun Ruixiang's inner world. Whether focused on the backstage area of a Paris show, a happy hour with close friends, or the hunt for wildflowers at the foot of the Himalayan mountains and in the Golden Triangle, the works present the ideas of search and flow in his life. Every fragment of life blossoms, then withers.
His backstage shoots in Paris represent the end of an era. The models shine like goddesses on the stage; they are legends that have faded, and they represent moments full of sensuality, desire, and beauty. The fantastic nights he spent with friends in Shanghai were infused with youth, ignorance, intimacy, alcohol, dreams, and parties. The air was heavy with sweetness and squandered youth. These photos were taken within an emotional bubble, moving from one embrace to the next. However, all lights are extinguished in the end.
Sun Ruixiang says that he had been looking for the perfect "animus" to represent his lifelong yearnings, his fears, and his desires.
He seemed to feel that power when he captured the gentle sway of a Himalayan blue poppy. He said this poppy is what Green Tara holds in her hands, representing the past, present, and future. In life, blooming must be followed by withering, and a feast ends with a departure. All endings exist in synchronicity.
The exhibition "Strange Days" does not display Sun Ruixiang's three series separately; because they are synchronized, this moment of life must contain a future moment. What is loneliness, warmth, burning, and emptiness?
In a glitzy fashion show, we see a thousand beauties joined in sorrow. At the foot of an uninhabited mountain, youth blooms like wildflowers, but time is like snow burying them.
Strange Days has the living rhythm and melody of an impromptu jazz performance or a babbling brook. Emptiness is part of it, but its only purpose is, unquestionably, to manifest the full enjoyment of life.
Aticle: Shen Qilan
Photos: Sun Ruixiang
Ruixiang Sun was born in Shanghai in 1984. In 2004, Sun moved to Paris and began working as the official backstage photography for Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel, also completing reportage, editorial, and portrait assignments for Bazaar, Another, Marie Clair, and other magazines.
After returning to Shanghai in 2012, Sun began focusing on portraiture and experimental video work, photographing mainly for Vogue China and Vogue Italy. Sun works mainly with celebrities, as well as many renowned fashion designers and artists, and is an expert in art and portraiture – his favorite themes when creating.
After shooting portraits for several years Sun realized that his observations of others’ inner lives felt confined. He went to Yunnan to observe flowers in their natural environment in 2018. By observing the flowers, he started to view himself with a more open and peaceful mind.
In 2019, Sun commenced studies at the New York Film Academy. and began his practice in short film.As of 2020, he continues to run his studio in Shanghai and work for Tatler magazine as the visual director .
Born in Shanghai in 1980, Shen Qilan is an art critic, curator and cultural scholar, receiving her Ph.D.in philosophy from the University of Münster, Germany. She was the editorial director of Art World magazine and editor-in-chief of the art department at Insight Media publishing house. She is also an editorial board member of Book Town magazine.
Shen Qilan focuses on the persistent dialogue between art and philosophy. She co-curated the exhibition "Aura of Poetry" by Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai in 2014; worked as an consultant to "Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou 1906 - 1977" exhibition, 2016; and curated the large-scale exhibition “A.R.Penck: Will Sign Become Reality?” featuring the German postwar art master A.R.Penck. In 2018, she was invited by the Culture and Education Sector of the German Consulate in Shanghai, to curate the annual project "Bauhaus Class" and curated the exhibition " House of Insomnia " for "Goethe Open Space".
Shen Qilan planned and presided over the international forum “Detour: A Dialogue between Art and Philosophy" for Shanghai Biennale 2018. In 2019, she curated the German contemporary art exhibition “Angelus Novus” and served as academic consultant for the exhibition "Sightings| Positions of Art from Germany". In the same year, she also curated and presided over the international cultural high-end dialogue series “The Futures”. She presided the project “Charging Station for Emerging Curators”, which is a collaboration of the School of Philosophy of Fudan University and Power Station of Art, this project has received the National Ministry of Culture Award.
She has contributed to art columns on many international art magazines and catalogs for international art institutions, including Financial Times Chinese website, Artifeng, Shanghai Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, among other important media and institutions. She authored the catalog featuring the British artist Antony Gormley’s exhibition at Uffizi Gallery in Italy. She also authored catalog featuring artist Qiu Zhijie in Skira publishing house, Italy.