Curator: Zhuang Hui
As the mind opens, the artist uses the eye to photographically capture images of interest – information is then stored in the memory of a ‘micro-chip’. It involves a continuous accumulation of things, but also a perpetual procedure of screening, verification, and layering, which together enhances the process of image recognition.
Starting in 2013 with the work Flag of Sweat (2013), Shi Guowei has attempted to incorporate the “Cavalier Perspective” into photography, a perspective often found in Chinese scrolls – creating within scenes an array of images, which can be read in a dynamic way. Later in Low-Pressure (2015), one of the first works in a new series, or whether facing the ‘Four Girls Mountain’, a forest, objects or scenes from around the artist, he employs a similar method to photography throughout. As a result, he neither tries to ‘devise’ a subject nor does he overtly emphasize the connection to the work’s structure – in this way, the objects photographed in the scenes appear imperturbable like the everyday.
Shi Guowei studied photography at Fachhochschule, Dortmund. For his graduation, he took inspiration from the technique of hand-coloring photographs influenced from his parent’s generation. Through processes of using Kodak C-print, he first chemically develops the black and white print onto photographic paper – this becomes the ‘base color’ – before final hand painting the final layers to complete it. It is a traditional hand technique, which shares more than one hundred years of history with black and white photography – and it reappears again to beguile a new audience. For a long period of time, photography has become associated as an ‘objective’ form of reproducing objects. Taken this idea further, today the photographic technologies have reached a point of practically becoming an omnipotent presence in our lives. Shi Guowei uses his own work to challenge this point – “There is still distance between color perceived with the naked eye, which far surpasses that of the lens. Color obtained in color photography still falls short to the vivid qualities of nature – in fact it pales in comparison. On the contrary, through the mind and its memory of the photographed scene, color is mixed and applied according to what feels appropriate to the scene – adding lucidity to the image as well as a heightened accuracy.”
Shi Guowei in "Among the Trees" at Hayward Gallery, London
Shi Guowei participates in Chinese Whispers: Recent Art from the Sigg Collection at The MAK, Vienna