HONG KONG HOSTS FU WENJUN EXHIBIT,FATHER OF DIGITAL PICTORIAL PHOTOGRAPHY
Susan Morgan - January 30, 2019
"Fresh Rain in the Mountain"(2018)
Bleeding blackink, swirls on and off the borders of the page. In some instances, the runningink is rain, or dreams, or wind. In some instances, the smeared and smudgedink, muddled with rich colored paints, are concepts of perception, identity andemotions. The works of Fu Wenjun lives in shadow boxes, usually containing 9square sheets, placed three by three only an inch and half away from the wall.That is enough space to create transcendence over space and the eye'sexpectations. His art floats. It is Photography redefined. It is digitalphotography revolutionized. Wherever your mind thinks the image should end, hiswork defies you. This is Wenjun's style. This is Digital Pictorial Photography.
Leading the wayas one of the most innovative artists in China's contemporary art scene,Wenjun's work has shown in New York, Paris, Barcelona, Miami, Milan and Dubai.And this is not a full recounting. He is a darling of the Chinese Contemporaryart market. His work is collected by the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum andSociété Nationale des Beaux Arts of France. He is also in countless museumsthroughout Asia, Africa, and the US.
His modern and abstractart fits effortlessly, like a glove, into the art scene emerging in China, buthe comes from a rather unexpected place.
"Red Cloud" (2018)
Fu Wenjun wasborn in Chongqing, China during a time of peace in a country in the process ofhealing from the 2nd Sino-Japanese war. During these formative years, Chongqingwas becoming one of the four main municipalities under China's centralgovernment alongside Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin. He went to Sichuan FineArts Institute.
His first mainexhibit was "Echo" in 2009. The collection was made up of hauntingabstract paintings of abandoned buildings accompanied by the Chinese NationalEmblem creating a juxtaposition between the economic waste and spending of anauthoritarian government and the prosperity promised in industrialization. Fromhis very first exhibit, it was very clear he was fearless in his ability toconfront modern culture's hypocrisies.
"Thought Reading No. 5" (2009 -2011)
In 2010 - 2011 hecombined digital photography with montage art design. In "ThoughtReading" his process included taking radiology x-rays of the human skulland replacing the brain space with Buddhist sculptures. In 2012, he followedwith his next exhibition, "Pick at Random." This time he experimentedwith mixing art languages and creating new images combining iconic culturalsymbols. This was a playful process, but the resulting works questionedcultural identities and our perception of the "self." And there is noslowing down for Fu Wenjun. His work keeps coming. He is prolific and continuesto push the intersectionality of art, painting, inking, sculpture and digitalphotography.
His work hasbecome more and more entangled with cultural influence and criticism. The topicthat most influences his work is his connection to travel.
"I liketravelling and travel a lot. Every journey is an experience, a process ofmeeting something new, something different. What's more important, it's aprocess of understanding more about myself and of rethinking more profoundly ofwhat I have experienced up ‘til now."
"Soft Hands" (2017)
Some of his bestworks are at The University Museum and Art Gallery of the University of HongKong in his newest exhibit "Digital Brush: The Photographic Process of FuWenjun." Some of the works featured are "Soft Hands,""Fresh Rain in the Mountain," "East Wind Blew Again LastNight" and "Dancing Notes." All four are masterpieces worthy ofan afternoon studying the master's process and recontextualizing yourdefinitions of Photography and Art.
But he is farfrom done exploring these ideas. In his new works, he takes on more structuralforms. In one of his new series, "Ask Tea" Wenjun explains that theworks "display the objects in the environment of an old-style Chineseteahouse, and aesthetically explores a composition of geometric shapes."
Meanwhile hiswork with culture continues in his new "F1" series. He told 72Dragons Media that "the works are thematic portraits with ink painting,line drawing and light color in contrast to original photos, with the attemptof encouraging viewers to ask and think the facts behind the images in front ofthem. [The Inspiration] coming from my last year's visit to F1 Abu Dhabirace."
It is clear thathis newer works grow richer with context to his own Chongqing upbringing andthe influence he has met with the outside world. His work, much like the inkthat appears to bleed from the canvas, is sometimes blending and blurring withits surroundings and other times standing in sharp contrast to them.
This is what hasWenjun so excited about showing in Hong Kong.
"My work isa place where the spirit of Chinese traditional culture encounters thephotographic art that keeps innovating. Hong Kong is a city [where] the Easternand the Western culture meet and blend…" For this reason alone, there isno better place to exhibit his work and to admire it.
The exhibit isshowing at the University Museum and Art Gallery of the University of Hong Kongand will run until February 22, 2019.