Pékin Fine Arts is pleased to present “Yu Likwai: It’s A Bright Guilty World”. This is the artist’s first solo exhibit in Beijing, and a continuation of a project started and exhibited by M+ Museum last year in Hong Kong.
One of Beijing’s most celebrated cinematographers and film-makers, Hong Kong native Yu Likwai resides in Beijing, where he makes his own films and also frequently collaborates with Beijing film-maker Jia Jiangke. Yu has long experimented with photography, video and installation in addition to his filmmaking pursuits.
The artist explains, “Over the years, I have been taking photos of empty spaces: dysfunctional apartments, abandoned factories and urban peripheries. By contemplating these desolate city fabrics, a weird fixation developed in my mind: Is there any possible kind of latent “existence” hidden inside my images? Since then, I was absorbed by the idea of reinventing imaginary human traces belonging to these barren locations.
Thus the whole photographic project was initially a fill in the blank mental exercise. All my narrative motivations were triggered by the Void of these unoccupied spaces even before any human character was invented.
Very soon all kind of overdramatized plots, loosely reconstructed crime scenes, hysterically wild tales of debauchery come up in my mind… And it quickly becomes a question of staging and re-staging, just like what I used to doing when we shoot a movie.
Quite inevitably, cinematic details creep into my storytelling. I am always fascinated by the fatalistic human relationship depicted in Film Noir: the perpetual role-playing game between victim and villain, the self-victimized and the wrongly accused. After all, Film Noir’s perspective is what I would term ‘nihilistic cool’. It gives me carte blanche to reveal what is plausible within the impossible, i.e. my fictive “latent image”.
The video installation FLUX (2013) is my own reinterpreted Phantasmagoria, an experimental Frankenstein photomontage. The idea originated from some black and white photos that I made 20 years ago. While scrutinizing again these faded images, I had a compulsive urge to “reanimate” them, both in a spiritual and physical sense.
To endow a freeze frame image with life, montages with different layers of images are projected on transparent holographic film. With low-tech minimalist trompe l’oeil effects, I intend to recreate the sensationalistic visual experience similar to that of an 18th century magic-lantern show.
This installation is also my tribute to silent movies and horror genre. Historically the cinema evinced an affinity with the phantom realm of Ghosts and supernatural beings. Horror emerges as a trope of film itself, as a medium of shadows, dematerialized presence, life drained of substance.
The whole series of my work is an attempt to negotiate dialectics between the freeze frame testimonial nature of photography and the lifelike illusionism of the cinema. As André Bazin explains, ‘Cinema is an “idealist” or “essentialist” medium; its illusionism is rooted in the “mummy complex”’. In a manner of speaking, this exhibition is an exercise to reanimate mummified pictures, revealing my innermost desires and impulses.”
– Yu Likwai, Bejing, Jan. 2014
Born in Hong Kong in 1966, Yu Likwai is a Chinese filmmaker and photographer who lives and works in Beijing. His directorial feature films include Love Will Tear Us Apart (1999, In Competition Cannes Film Festival), All Tomorrow’s Parties (2003, Cannes Film Festival Un Certain Regard) and Plastic City (2008, In Competition Venice Film Festival).
During his 18-year career as a cinematographer, he has shot all of Jia Zhangke’s films to date, and has worked with Ann Hui and Lou Ye, amongst others. Yu was awarded numerous international prizes, including: Best Cinematography, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award (2008), Best Cinematography, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival (2004)
As a photographer, Yu’s work shows a strong cinematic accent. Operating in the gap between sensation fiction and documentary fact, between slick scenario and fresh perception, they deliver strong hints at narrative subtexts.
Yu’s photographs are in the permanent collection of M+, the new innovative museum in Hong Kong and Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.
Courtesy of the artist and Pékin Fine Arts, for further information please contact email@example.com or (86) 10 5127 3220.