F2 Gallery presents a solo exhibition of renowned Chinese artist Shi Guorui from April 24th to June 20th. Entitled “Scenes”, the exhibition will feature several recent works, as well as works newly created for the exhibition. This exhibition is also a part of “Caochangdi Photospring 2011 – ARLES In Beijing” organized by Three Shadows Photography Center, in which over twenty art galleries and institutions in Caochangdi and 798 Art Districts are participating.
Shi Guorui started to focus his artistic practice of camera obscura photography, also known as pinhole photography, around 2000, following a traumatic car accident in which he lost a dear friend. In 2002, he transformed a watchtower on the Jinshanling Great Wall into a “camera obscura” or dark room, which was five meters long, three meters wide, and three meters high, with a team of over 100 crew members for the whole duration of six months. However, the “Great Wall” project was only a departure point for Shi Guorui’s photo obscura oeuvre. His projects would eventually take him around the world; from Shenzhen, the pioneer city of the “open-up” policy to metropolises like Shanghai and Beijing; from the base camp of Mount Everest to Hollywood; and from the old time “Gold Rush” town of San Francisco to the former “Red Holy Land” of China -Yan’an.
Shi Guorui’s photographic process is arduous. He always sits alone in the dark box for six to eight hours to watch the image gradually appear on the photo paper as the exposure process goes on: the artist views this as a Zen-like catharsis. The special exposure methods of the photo obscura work and various weather and daylight conditions, determines the uniqueness of every single one of his works. Due to the exposure principle of the camera obscura technique, any moving objects or people are not captured, thus leaving the image of the photograph with only static elements. The absence of human beings results in a ghostly feeling, suggesting the temporariness of life.
It usually takes the artist months, even years, to research a site before starting to carry out a project. The reasons for choosing the subjects are crucial; the works reflect his ponderings on the changing cultural, economical, political and historical issues related to the specific sites. Although the medium of Shi’s practice is photography and the subjects of his work are landscapes and cityscapes, the concerns and the concepts behind his praxis go far beyond the obvious visual imageries.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Shi Guorui was born in 1964 in Shanxi Province. In 1992, he graduated from the Photography Department of Nanjing Normal University. Shi has been exhibiting extensively worldwide since 2002. His recent selected solo exhibitions include Shi Guorui: Scenes, F2 Gallery, Beijing (2011); The Same is Not the Same: Shi Guorui & Andrea Good, Offene Kirche Elisabethen Basel, Switzerland (2010); New Works by Shi Guorui, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong (2008); Uncanny Perceptions – Shi Guorui Solo Exhibition, Chinese Contemporary, New York and Beijing (2008); Reproduction and Refashioning, The de Young Museum, San Francisco (2007). His recent selected group exhibitions include Developed and Undeveloped: Photographic Landscapes, The de Young Museum, San Francisco (2010-2011); Chinese Windows 2010: Big Draft – Shanghai – Chinese Contemporary Art from the Sigg Collection, Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland (2010); The State of Thing: The Exchanging of Contemporary Art Between China and Belgium, Centre for Fine Arts (BOZAR), Brussels (2009); GO CHINA- New World Order Present- day Installation Art and Photography, Groninger Museum, The Netherlands (2008); Red Hot, Asian Art Today from the Chany Family Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA (2007). Shi currently lives and works in Beijing.