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A tale - and some pictures - of two cities

VISUAL Transformation: Tokyo and Shanghai," an exhibition of 30 photographs taken by Yu Guanghua, reveals the photographer's individual experiences with the two metropolises.

On first sight, many viewers might think Yu's pictures had been processed by Adobe Photoshop, as the different images overlap and float in black-and-white scenes.

For example, a night scene of the Bund in Shanghai features a huge Coca-Cola bottle and several goldfish. A huge advertising hoarding overlaps a small ticket booth in Ginza, Japan.

"In fact, not one single photograph of mine has been processed by a computer," explains Yu, a striking 40-something mustached man. "What I used was traditional multiple-exposures."

According to Yu, for this to work, a vivid concept and improvisational skills are required.

"I am addicted to the technique as it gives me a lot of freedom with the camera," Yu says. "The intervention of the real scene is the outcome of serious thought."

Having lived in Japan for almost two decades, the cities of Tokyo and Shanghai are Yu's constantly refreshing subjects.

"I am very familiar with the two big cities, whether we are talking about the cities' landscapes or cultures," he says. "In my eyes, there are similarities and differences between the two."

Both cities are filled with desire.

Yet for Yu, Shanghai is also a city filled with vitality and a potential for even more development, while Tokyo is more mature and offers a stable pace of life.

"Every time I return, I can see the construction and hear the noise of building. Unlike some of the locals who hate this, I love it because it represents vitality and possibility," he says.

Perhaps only those who live in these cities might appreciate the depth in Yu's photos.

The Tokyo people might have a better understanding of the subtle detail in Yu's photos of Tokyo while the pictures shot in Shanghai could easily stir the emotions of the locals.

"This is a cultural difference, and I think it's interesting to put the two together at the same time in an exhibition," Yu says.

One of Yu's photos features the Waibaidu Bridge among the silhouette of an old man's weather-beaten face.

"I think many local people will be moved by this," Yu says, "because the Waibaidu Bridge is an icon of the city and has been witnessing the changes of Shanghai for nearly a century."

This photo has an air of sentimentality with the Waibaidu Bridge silently standing above the Huangpu River.

"I clicked my camera to create the montage effect which is more commonly seen in a movies," Yu says. "It is akin to my own film mixed with my childhood dreams, growing pains, the solitude of an overseas life and the nostalgia for my hometown."

Date: through May 23, 9am-4pm

Address: 79 Fenyang Rd


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