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October 10, 2009

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'I can feel buildings breathe'

NOT many 17-year-olds get solo exhibition, but Fu Jiawen, the son of architects, is presenting a one-man show in Shanghai of architecture from his world travels.

The show features 60 photos from around 20 countries.

No street scenes or people, just scenes that are "silent and fixed," he says.

He anticipates questions about why a young man chooses buildings as a subject. "The reason is simple, because both my parents are architects. The influence comes from the family," he replies.

Fu, who was born in Canada, moved to Shanghai with his parents when he was eight. "Compared with my peers, I have been exposed to the outside world at an early age. I travel a lot on vacation every year with my family."

Unlike most tourists, Fu is often guided by his parents to distinguished architecture and they discuss it, whether Gaudy's church in Barcelona, Gehry's Disney Concert Hall, the 1949 Baker MIT dormitory designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, or an Egyptian temple.

The work is very high quality and professional in its angels, composition, light and shadow.

"Because my parents are professional architects, they discuss the details, the function, the structure and artistic value in each building," says Fu. "Then I find that these buildings are not 'dead.' They can breathe and sometimes I can even feel it."

These pictures require a quality camera and the right sunlight.

Finding the perfect natural lighting isn't easy. "The best light for shooting is usually around 6am or at dusk," he says, "so I have to wake up around 5am and head to the spot to make all the preparations."

Fu sometimes returns several days to the same spot to get the perfect picture.

He savors the solitary moment when he captures the first light cast on a building and asserts, "my soul approaches the soul of the building."

He likes both ancient and modern buildings. "Ancient buildings are like a romantic poem while modern buildings are like a profound installation."

He calls Gaudy's works "too noisy."

"Why a masterpiece should be appreciated by everyone?" he asks. "I have my own aesthetic taste."

Asked whether he plans to become an architect, like his parents, Fu says: "No, I'm not an outgoing person. In fact, I use the camera to release my inner side. Though my parents hoped I would inherit their talent, I have decided to devote my life to science.

"For me, mathematics and physics are mysterious and fascinating."

Date: through October 15, 10am-4pm

Address: 500 Xinfeng Rd (near Xikang Rd and Haifang Rd)

Tel: 6217-4870


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