• Date
      2016.06.18 - 2016.09.11
    • Artist
      Luo Yongjin
    • Curator
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  • Images

Portrait of Xi'an 1: "Wall"

Luo Yongjin Photo Project

During Luo Yongjin’s 25-year career, the photographer has travelled widely across China documenting changes in the urban and rural environments. He brings his unique approach to photographing urban structures and environments to this project in Xi’an, which centres on the presence and significance of the ancient city walls. Combining techniques of photographic transfer, print-making and traditional rubbing which further draws inspiration from the famous stele museum Beilin, Luo Yongjin creates a monumental wall of his own that encircles the entire space of the second floor gallery.
Luo Yongjin’s photographic works deftly show architecture as a manifestation of a particular time and place. From the Fort Houses in the west of China to the “McMansions” of the wealthy traders in Hangzhou and its environs; from massive commercial developments like Oriental Plaza in Beijing to the grand edifices along the Bund in Shanghai, to the disintegrating traditional houses on the fringes of so many urban centres, the shifting tides of taste, of excess and austerity, of ambition, expense and fantasy invested in these diverse construction projects come to the fore. Both as single images and as mosaic-style composites, the photographs effect a visual metaphor of a dramatic era of social change from the 1980s to the present.
Another distinctive element in the work is the experimenting that Luo Yongjin does with established, or traditional, techniques. In this project, the first is Drum Tower which is one of his largest two works created in Xi’an. It combines 280 individual frames of the gate and its environs, and was photographed from the roof of the Drum Tower. Not all of the 280 images were taken by Luo Yingjin. Instead, he combines his own frames with others of this famous vista spanning several centuries of time. Some are woodblock engravings or brush paintings, others from historical models and 19th- and 20th-century photographs. Luo Yongjin’s remarkable 21st-century vision was further inspired by the elegant mineral-pigment hues of the painting A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains by the Song Dynasty master Wang Ximeng. The second piece, Hanguang Gate, eschews the actual tower in favour of a view which brings us closer to the present-day aura of the city. Here, fronted by what is today a busy street, the building behind it home to a great number of residents and bustling activity.
The centrepiece of this exhibition is the titular Wall, which mirrors the shape of Xi’an’s famous city wall, and it’s embodies a combination of elements; traditional (ancient) bricks, rubbings, and photographs printed not on conventional paper but in rice paper. 

About the Artist

Luo Yongjin was born in Beijing in 1960. He graduated from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 1992. He currently lives and works in Shanghai. Luo Yongjin is the first of the two photographers-in-residence to visit Xi’an for projects organised by OCAT Xi’an in 2016.


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