Jiang Pengyi: Writing with Light
Our focus artist this week is Jiang Pengyi, renowned photomedia artist. Here, we discuss his Grace and Trace (2016) series, and recommend resources found at the White Rabbit Collection Research Library for those wanting to learn a little bit more!
Jiang Pengyi creates stunningly beautiful works that capture both the force and fragility of nature. In his Grace (2016) series, where he travelled to various remote locations to document waterfalls, Jiang Pengyi experienced “loneliness and isolation”, but also the endless flow of “God’s grace, mercy, love”. Reminiscent of the Romantic conception of the sublime, Jiang Pengyi’s photographs of timeless, desolate landscapes transport us to another time and place. Long exposures transform the flow of water into solid lines of white, like a gestural mark made on canvas. Contrasted against dense, rocky hillsides, these organic, vertical lines become a motif repeated across Jiang Pengyi’s oeuvre.
In Trace (2016), Jiang Pengyi experiments with instant Polaroid film to push the boundaries of photographic practice. Creating minimalist compositions from light, the artist repeats the image of a single line, of which he writes, “to make one line become very thin, very straight, very small, I think it starts to resemble myself.” The artist says Trace is an interior analogue of Grace: “an exploration of myself”, highlighting a relationship between self and nature, inner and outer.
Jiang Pengyi's interest in the materiality of photographic media is evident in this series, where he blurs the boundary between image and object. To create these works, such as Trace 24, Jiang Pengyi removed the delicate emulsion layers from Polaroid prints and transferred them to paper. By bunching, layering and folding thin, transparent emulsions on paper, the artist created textured, abstract pieces which expand our notions of photographic image making.
White Rabbit Gallery. (2017). The dark matters: guide look. Sydney: White Rabbit Gallery
To learn more about Jiang Pengyi’s practice, find resources at the White Rabbit Collection Research Library. See below for a select few:
Gu Zheng. (2014). Jiang Pengyi. Shanghai: ShanghART Gallery
Published on the occasion of Jiang Pengyi's solo exhibition, 'JIANG PENGYI' held at ShanghART Gallery in 2014. Includes essays, artwork illustrations and an artist biography.
Jiang Pengyi. (2016). Grace and trace: Jiang Pengyi. Shanghai: ShanghART Gallery
An artist monograph published by ShanghART Gallery, this text includes writing from Jiang Pengyi's own notebooks and diaries and presents artwork illustrations of his 2016 Grace and Trace series.
William Zhao. (2011). The other wave: contemporary Chinese photography. Hong Kong: Ben Brown Fine Arts
Published to coincide with the exhibition "The Other Wave: Contemporary Chinese Photography" at Ben Brown Fine Arts in London, 2012. This text includes works by Jiang Pengyi along with his contemporaries.
Pierre Sterckx. (2012). A history of Chinese contemporary photography. Paris: Gallerie Paris-Beijing
A comprehensive monograph surveying contemporary Chinese photography. Includes essays on over 25 artists, including Jiang Pengyi.
The White Rabbit Collection Research Library is open to researchers on Thursdays and Fridays by appointment, or at other times negotiated with the Manager of Research. To request access to the Library and arrange an appointment, please visit: https://www.jnprojects.net/white-rabbit-collection/library/
By Nichola Palazzi, Library Assistant
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