Shi Guowei

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Shi Guowei (1977, Luoyang, Henan) currently lives and works in Beijing. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in photography from the Department of Visual Communication at the Tsinghua University Academy of Arts & Design (the former Central Academy of Art and Design) in 2002, and he received his master’s degree in photography from the Fachhochschule Dortmund in 2006.


Shi has always used photography as a creative tool, but he consciously attenuates the properties of this unique medium. The majority of his photographed subjects are ordinary items, and they embody a vague collective consciousness. So Shi removes the color from the photographs to find a monotonous black-and-white base. He then reapplies the color using washes to create a final color photograph. This process shows his mistrust of the objective world, but it also challenges the objectivity of photography. He does not believe that photography is a way of reconciling our observations of the world, but the naked eye perceives color much better than the camera lens does. Based on his recollections of the photographed scene, Shi chooses colors that he thinks are suitable, which make the resulting color photographs very lively and accurate. Because we bring our own emotions to the things we see, the only true colors are those that carry these emotions, and these colors can only be obtained through human intervention.


Shi Guowei’s solo exhibition include: The Drawn Out Moment, Shanghai Center of Photography (SCoP), Shanghai, China (2021); A Walk in the Woods, Magician Space, Beijing, China (2019); Crossing Four Girls Mountain, Magician Space, Beijing, China (2016); Shi Guowei Solo Exhibition, SZ Art Center, Beijing (2014); What Year Is It Today, In-Shine Gallery, Beijing, China (2010); Old Stories, Contemporary Retellings, Cetus Gallery, Shanghai, China (2008).


Selected group exhibition: The Curation Workshop II: Story and Structure, OCT Art&Design Galler, Shenzhen (2020); Theme Exhibition of the 6th Anniversary of 33 Contemporary Art Center, 33 Contemporary Art Center, Guangzhou (2020); Among the Trees, Hayward Gallery, London (2020); Chinese Whispers: Recent Art from the Sigg Collection, MAK Museum Vienna, Vienna (2019); Changjiang International Photography and Video Biennale, Chongqing (2017); Nature: A Subjective Place, Shanghai Center of Photography (SCoP), Shanghai (2016); Don’t Shoot The Painter, Galleriad’ Arte Moderna Milano (2015); The Civil Power, Minsheng Art Museum, Beijing (2015); The Bright Eye of the Universe, Sundaram Tagore Gallery, New York (2015); Made in China, London (2013); The 6th Chengdu Biennale, Chengdu (2013); Pop Sensation from the UBS Art Collection, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong (2012); China: Memories & Imagination, Albemarle Gallery, London (2011); Dimplom-Arbeiten Dortmund Photography Exhibition, Germany (2006).

A Walk in the Woods, exhibition view

Left: Flourish Green, 2018, painting on photograph, 140 x 111cm
Right: Growing, 2019, painting on photograph, 96 x 83cm

A Walk in the Woods, exhibition view

Lichens, 2018, painting on photograph, 164 x 135.5cm

Crossing Four Girls Mountain, exhibition view

Crossing Four Girls Mountain, exhibition view

Karen Smith | A Walk in the Woods with Shi Guowei

“So, whilst Shi Guowei may have made a fine photographer, he was also possessed of a strong interest in painting, which could not be denied. Thus, the practice he has adopted and evolved satisfies both interests, offering a neat solution to these parallel concerns. At the same time, it consciously blurs the boundary between painting and photography, undermining the apparent reality of a photograph with the conceptual invention of a painting in ways that are deceptive because they are barely apparent.”