Zhe Zhu: Vanitas| 朱喆:维尼塔斯

July 26–August 20, 2014 | 2014年7月26日–2014年8月20日

Opening Reception | 开幕酒会: Saturday, July 26, 2014, 3–6:30 pm | 2014年7月26日,星期六,3-6:30 pm

Location | 地址: Backyard, South Gate of China Academy of Railway Science Track Test Center, Jia
1 Jiuxianqiao North Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, P.R.China | 后苑,北京市朝阳区酒仙桥北路甲1号中国铁道科学研究院东郊分院南侧

Fou Gallery and Backyard are pleased to present New York based photographer Zhe Zhu’s inaugural solo exhibition in Beijing from July 26 through August 20, 2014. TitledVanitas, the exhibition will present eight works in his latest series, which challenges the boundary between painting and photography and explores the meaning of time and life. The opening reception will take place at Backyard on July 26, 3 – 6:30pm.

Zhe Zhu started his Vanitas series in 2012, inspired by vanitasa type of symbolic still life painting that flourished in Flanders and the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries. The term originates from Ecclesiastes 1:2 of the Bible – “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Vanitas paintings often use decaying flowers, rotten fruits, skulls, bubbles, clocks and other symbols to represent the meaninglessness of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits. Zhu’s initial intention was to create lush images that look like 17th-century still life paintings, or “to make photography look like painting.” As his experiment evolved, he started to think about the artificial space defined by painting, the symbolic meaning of the objects and the role of lighting and perspective. During the project, Zhe Zhu’s grandfather passed away, making him reflect on the passage of time and the meaning of life. Zhu became personally attached to the theme of vanitasBy replacing the elements in Dutch still life paintings with daily objects from the present, he reveals the process of vanishing and decaying in his own life.

Vanitas is also a study of the similarities and differences between painting and photography. Obsessed with detail, Zhe Zhu shot with a large format film camera and a medium-format digital camera. By manipulating the depths of field in different photos, he tries not only to imitate the artificial focus in oil paintings, but also to present the high-resolution details that cannot be achieved in paintings. Meanwhile, the dim light and horizontal perspective often used in still life paintings are rarely seen in Zhe Zhu’s photography. He amplifies the differences between the two media by using unconventional perspectives and ways of lighting. In Sleek (2014), cold rays of light fall on the fish and mirror-like desktop, creating a modern and industrial atmosphere. In Aerial View (2014), the objects are seen from above and appear as weightless planets lost in darkness and silence.

Read the full press release here.