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February 15, 2011

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Home » Feature » Art and Culture

Artist goes from canvas to camera

FOR Liang Weizhou, a camera can be "a god of its own if it's used in a metaphysical way."

"The world is immense and the camera might only capture a small and insufficient part," Liang says. "But on a different level, it can create history and even rule over time and space."

"Scenery and Still Life: A Painted Perspective," an exhibition of Liang's photography, is underway at M97 Gallery on Moganshan Road.

Originally studying ink-wash painting, Liang found early fame in Shanghai's contemporary art community as an oil painter.

In 1996, he was chosen with Ai Weiei and several other heavyweight names for "China: Exhibition of Chinese Modern Art" which toured Vienna, Singapore, Copenhagen, Warsaw and Berlin.

His most widely known painting features a naked man (portraying himself) lying on the ground, looking into a mirror.

But Liang has never considered or imagined himself to be a serious "photographer." He and his relationship with photography have always been at odds - he is a photographer but not only a photographer; his photographs are photographs yet not only photographs.

It has been the perfect marriage, embracing the painter's eye and sensitivity to formal aspects of composition, shape, shadow, texture and light.

For no particular reason, Liang picked up his camera and started taking pictures of lifeless objects at his home and in his studio. His subjects ranged from broken bottles, ashtrays and light bulbs to the sink and an electric fan.

Surprisingly, the photos bear hardly any similarity to his former canvases that were striking in color and bizarre in content.

Liang says his photographs demonstrate his soothing, optimistic and mysterious traits, while his canvases reveal a wild and passionate character.

Black-and-white photos sometimes seem to represent a sleepy state of being, while the addition of a hint of color can easily revive the photograph.

Liang's utilization of black-and-white film is perfect to observe the world, though it is color that helps one recall his or her memories and feelings.

"Having been born and grown up in Shanghai, I terribly miss those past simple lifestyles," laments the 48-year-old. "Although I was, like many locals who were not rich in material life, I have a nostalgic feel for those mindless and carefree old days."

Unlike some photographers who immediately process what they have captured on film, Liang prefers to put aside the pictures he has taken for a while, sometimes even 10 years.

"The village houses displayed in the photographs at this exhibition were actually shot a decade ago," he explains. "But at that time, I didn't have any special feelings toward them, so I threw them into files of films in my apartment."

The fast pace of city construction in recent years has gradually devoured those old shabby village houses in the suburbs, which on the contrary, inspired Liang's interest to revive them.

"You could no longer find them in the outskirts, the camera is a perfect instrument to capture these banal and pure moments of its existence," he concludes.

Date: through March 8, 10am-4pm

Address: 2/F, 97 Moganshan Rd

Tel: 6266-1597


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