Shi Guowei | Border

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Over the past years, I have been trying to break the boundaries between photography and painting, to tear down that dated and stale wall in-between them. In a more precise way, I’m straddling the borderline, keeping balance as if I were a tightrope walker on the wire, not to lean towards either side, not photography, nor painting. This is the only way to keep me conscious and calm when facing the objects around me, to not get lost, and to enrich myself. The weeds always grow better on the riverbank – that’s where the richest nutrients are.

My work has been more and more themeless over recent years. I believe that any intention to create a strong theme is just unilateral, flat, even silly, in facing reality. “De-theming” brings a purer and more profound feeling to the works. First of all, I’ll take a photo of a meadow, or a pile of rocks, or a forest, and fill up the entire frame with them. When you look at the pictures, they are like the face of your spouse that you’ve never looked at in such detail – familiar yet strange, somehow touching. Next, I will paint over the photos, tracing these familiar outlines slowly and carefully with brushes, to make them look logical. Now the painting is completed over a black-and-white photograph, when you look at it again, you will be wondering, “is it still the forest that I shot a photo of?”, “It seems so …” Maybe this uncertainty is the meaning of this so-called “art” that we have been going after all this time. It is also what I have been pushing towards – to create on the borderline between photography and painting.

Shi Guowei

Beijing, 2018