When I can’t draw, I write poems to record my feelings. When I can’t write, I transform my drawing into a memory. When I find cameras, I can neither write nor draw, and all my emotions will gather at that moment.
Chinese photographer Lu Yanpeng opens his solo exhibition Revelator of Poetry at the Maypark Gallery (Chengdu). The exhibition presents the five series of his works in chronological order, including Memory · Lost; The Memory of a Stone; Mountain · Fog; Air and Presenting the Buddha with Borrowed Flowers.
Lu Yanpeng is obsessed with the darkroom and its slow process. He uses his hands to edit these images – to dodge and burn – to make his photographs picturesque. His inspiration originates from his writing which is related to memory and emotion.
The Memory of a Stone
‘The Memory of a Stone is probably the most special work for me. It is a new start, a gift too! In 2007, my wife drew a series of sketches of the same title – a part of this series is related to pregnancy. Coincidentally, she was pregnant during that period. In 2008, I passed through Sanqing Mountain and came upon a peaceful space. That was a magic world for me, I can talk to nature there. I knew that there was something growing, just like my wife‘s baby bump. I wanted to prepare a gift for my wife and my baby. So, I secretly took pictures of her sketches and combined them with my landscape images. The photograph was taken in 2008 and I completed the picture in the darkroom in 2009. It is not a photograph, nor a painting. I hope it is a poem!’
Mountain · Fog
My inspiration for Mountain · Fog originates from one of my poems. My four year-old cousin was talking about fog, pigs and cows with his 10 year-old sister. In their eyes, fog is something frightening. They imagine pigs and cows as fathers or sons of fog. I found that quite interesting so I combined their conversations with the landscape I saw. Maybe, fog means enlightenment (these two words are both pronounced as Wu in Chinese). This series was shot with film and processed in the darkroom. To some extent, it is just like drawing a picture when you are in the darkroom, touching the picture with your hands, and letting time and the developer create the picture.
Memory · Lost
‘Memory · Lost was shot from 2005 to 2008. When I started to take the photographs, I wanted to put more memories, feelings instead of one moment into a single work. This series was shot with long exposure at night. Sometimes the exposure was 30 seconds, other times one minute. This series is a mixture of my childhood and the present, and they are contradictory.’
Presenting the Buddha with Borrowed Flowers
‘The concept behind Presenting the Buddha with Borrowed Flowers comes from a simple idea: offer fireworks to the Buddha, and say hello to him. I think the overlap of the Buddha image and the firework image makes this picture seem lighter. In the past, when artisans finished the Buddhist sculpture, they would open a hole in the back of the Buddha and put sutras, wheat, medicines, and metal organs in it as a consecration. Fireworks are just like the inspiration of artisans, which embody a sense of mobility as well as offering a possibility to this picture. As a mediator in both time and space, this picture finalised the process of this series.’