Holy Land of Revolution & Legends of Shanghai: 4th Retrospective Photography Exhibition of Wu Yinxian

2011.10.29 - 2011.11.25

Artist(s):Wu Yinxian

Curator(s):Cai Meng

Since the successful mounting of "Wu Yinxian Photography Retrospective, Part I" at Taikang Space in November 2009, we have carried on explorations of his oeuvre over the past three years. Mr. Wu Yinxian is a highly representative and strongly influential figure in the history of Chinese photography. In the 1970s and ‘80s Mr. Wu photographed monumental architecture such as the Great Hall of the People and Beijing Hotel. In the 1950s and ‘60s his works ranged from social relations, labor and industry to landscapes, portraits, classroom scenes, gardens and female militia members. His photographic works from the 1950s through the ‘80s were divided into three parts for presentation here. 
The present exhibition, being the fourth installment of "Wu Yinxian Photography Retrospective" displayed Mr. Wu’s works shot in the 1930s and ‘40s, during his Shanghai and Yan’an periods.

Original photos taken during the 1930s in Shanghai were personally printed by Wu Yinxian and pasted into handmade scrapbooks. The layouts are elegant and the craftsmanship exacting. His pictures range from movie stars and white collar workers to destitute common people, from urban glamour to historical sites. In these works we see an energetic young innovator, during China’s golden decade of the 20th Century, establishing a connection to his own era through photography; we can also see how he clarified his understanding of photography in the process of building this connection. His experiments with black and white shading were nearly simultaneous with similar explorations being done in the West.
The other point of emphasis in this exhibition falls on photographs shot by Wu Yixian during the 1940s in Yan’an. The selection presented here is precious not only in terms of historical documentation but also for artistic value. Viewing these works, one readily discovers them to be an extension of Wu Yinxian’s experience and taste from his Shanghai period. What is more, being transposed to the dynamic context of a new social reality endows these works with new ideals, political significance and concern for homeland.
During his lifetime Wu Yinxian created tens of thousands of photographic works, which are now preserved intact in the hands of his relatives. For these four exhibitions, we have received generous support from Wu Yinxian’s family. Thus we have been privileged to select prime items from a large amount of original material, allowing us to feel the powerful appeal of the original works. Here we wish to express special thanks to Ms. Wu Zhuqing and Mr. Wu Wei.
This exhibition also displayed manuscripts written by Wu Yinxian during his lifetime, along with publications, handmade scrapbooks and photo albums, photo proofs and relevant historical materials. At the same time, we will screen two documentaries which Wu Yinxian filmed while in Yan’an: Norman Bethune and Naniwan. We respectfully invite you to view these offerings.  

Relevant Report
Dec,2011 Master-Oriental art-From Grace of the republic of China to Yan An's spirit
Oct-31,2011 Vision website-Interview with curator Cai Meng