Yuz Museum, West Bund Shanghai
September 2nd – December 3rd, 2017

Yuz Museum is set to open Qin Yifeng’s solo exhibition on September 2nd, 2017, “QIN YIFENG’S WORKS”. This is the first exhibition of a set of negative film works by Qin that has already drawn widespread attention in the art world.

Qin Yifeng (born in 1961) is an established artist based in Shanghai, who has engaged himself in the creation of art for more than 30 years. He has learnt calligraphy since childhood, the essence of which – the spiritual cultivation and formal aesthetics – deeply influences his artistic creation. Around 1992, Qin has established the painting style called “Xian Chang (field of lines).” In the early stage of “Xian Chang”, the cube, constructed by lines, is created as the visual subject to explore the composition of lines and planes, the relationship between two and three dimensions, as well as the overlapping and twisting of space. Since the artist abandoned the cube and gradually developed a style of pureness, his use of color gets more solemn and tranquil, creating different variations of formal aesthetics, spatial relationships, virtual-real visions, and mood atmospheres in a simple composition. Qin is also a collector and researcher of Ming-dynasty wooden furniture, of which he makes unique photography works. This group of works will be on display in the exhibition.


2013/06/26 09:38 Cloudy
aluminum frame 1099×1368 mm
giclee print
8×10 inches gelatin silver film negatives
natural light, 19’30” exposure

In these works, he uses a large-format camera to make negative images of damaged pieces of Ming-dynasty wooden furniture. In the negative film images, the documentary qualities – the objects’ construction and the tracks of the history on them – as well as the photographic qualities – to return to the immediate space of their current condition – have been eliminated. He exhausts a range of techniques to compress the depth of the image, bringing the lines in the images to an almost theoretical flatness – an original, pure flatness – as if the flatness of the surface comes not from the gray background on the film but from the flatness on which the film itself is based which contains analytical lines and gray levels. This compression brings a compact quality to the negative film images, resulting in a stillness that is loaded with energy. Therefore, the gray scale of this group of negative film images, which is suitably lower than the 100 degrees of pure black that belongs to the accelerated zone found on the contours of the reclaimed objects, demonstrates the artist’s tenderness: our gaze is drawn into the gray flatness, but we do not sense the massive changes approaching in silence. In fact, the grayscale preserves the silence; the aspects we do hear are found precisely in the lines and the black on the flat surface. Qin’s work is conducted in dialogue with the craftsmen and other anonymous persons of times now gone. On the primary flatness, which he creates through techniques entirely his own, he turns traces of sounds into a stream of sounds. This is the most inspiring use of the deconstructive effect of the negatives’ reversal of black and white: bringing life out of death. Use your luminance to extend a luminance you can accept.


2013/10/23 12:20 Cloudy
aluminum frame 1099×1368 mm
giclee print
8×10 inches gelatin silver film negatives
natural light, 12′ exposure

Poet Xiao Kaiyu, as the exhibition curator, wrote an article about the exhibition, Grayscale 85 to 75 (95 to 18), Or Echoes in the Flat Surface, that explores the artist’s works from multiple aspects including the technical level, furniture material, historical context, abstract constitution, aesthetic form, etc. It is a comprehensive analysis of Qin’s works. Xiao writes:

“Qin Yifeng’s work on negative film, created while using restrained technical parameters, turn many levels of movement and acts of destruction into a stream of sounds that flows across flat surfaces. Art wrestles with social dilemmas, fusing together patterns of radiation that, when drawn out from its critical vision, can sweep away the influence of pernicious political consensus and overturn mundane critical viewpoints. You may or may not be surprised while watching and rewatching. Listen to the color of gray and the stillness. Dread creeps in through the delicate, ever-changing flow.”

Talking about the “gray level” of the artworks, Xiao writes:

“The black contains images and meaning. Qin Yifeng forces the black to project a flat surface without depth. The shape and meaning result from a combination of different levels of brightness. Qin Yifeng uses the method of gray levelling to drive out any illusory profundity. Like Chinese calligraphy, only dot, line and ink are left on the paper. Nothing false appears on the paper. The uneven gray on the negative film can be seen as uneven ink marks. The dot just means a dot, the line is just a line. Association or metaphors are turned away. The object in the film is just color – one of the five colors of Chinese ink. The color can be thought to be unreal. In another words, the flat surface is not a stage hung on the wall to that invites people to imagine themselves performing within the image. For example, why act as Qin Yifeng? Just act following the camera’s movement, following the movement of the pieces of furniture. Take a bath while the water is warm, or drive on a familiar road in the dark. Qin Yifeng studies and employs the craftsmen and painters of Ming-dynasty, but he never plays the part of these craftsmen or painters. Like these anonymous persons, he also works hard to achieve perfection. He is against repetition.”

Qin Yifeng

In the article Revealing the Existence, Significance and Value of the Negative, critic Gu Zheng, as the academic advisor of the exhibition, sets a high value on the works of the artist:

“Qin Yifeng is subversively viewing the ‘negative’ as ‘positive’, and in the process of visualizing this upended understanding, he has provided his unique visual experience while also revealing the significance and value of the ‘negative.’ He helps us to discover and understand photography, in what is a new viewpoint and method for seeing things in reality.”

“Qin Yifeng’s sustained photographic practices have so undoubtedly and perfectly demonstrated that they are about what is photography that I cannot escape the temptation to use the term ‘meta’ to describe the properties of his work. If we ask what meta photography is, it is Qin Yifeng’s photography.”

“Qing Yifeng’s Works” will be open to the public from September 2nd to December 3rd, 2017 at Yuz Museum.