Art+ Shanghai Gallery will be presenting new works by one of the biggest names of Spanish photography Ouka Leele, the Chinese photographer with an international acclaim Yao Lu and French photographer Nathalie Perakis - Valat.
Ouka Leele乌卡·莱蕾, winner of the Spanish National Photography Prize in 2015, presents works where artist’s signature is recognizable by a distinctive style of coloring the photographs inspired by the pop art language and mythological narration. Leele rose to fame during the La Movida Madrilena that marks the beginning of her lifelong collaboration and close friendship with Almodovar and Mariscal. In her works the artist tends to draw attention to the personal and intimate world’s leading her to the exploration of a unique perspective of an individual being who, once distanced from the mass society, unveils an emotional story in front of the camera.
Yao Lu姚璐 is known for his harmonious landscapes borrowing the classical Chinese style of painting. His photomontage manipulations provide the viewer with a careful observation of the rapid changes of the environment. Instead of the meditative atmosphere found in Chinese landscape painting, globalized symbols and superbrands mark the sudden disharmony in the landscape caused by rapid consumerism and urbanization characterizing contemporary China. Links drawn between the tradition and reality reflect the Chinese society in transition, torn apart between the rich culture of the past and the modern phenomenon of banalizing symbols of the contemporary culture.
Touching on the issues of demolition, renovation and relocation as a consequence of the mushrooming growth of Shanghai, Nathalie Perakis - Valat’s works reflect the growing impact of these complete transformations on the people in her new series titled Shanghai Keystones, where the focus is placed on the worker; an individual whose testimony reveals the stories hidden behind the glossy residential and commercial centers. The photographer introduced the third dimension in her new photo project by making “infinity boxes” that will “house” 3D printed statues of the workers.
Art+ Shanghai Gallery brings these 3 photographers to the Photo Shanghai 2016 where each will provide a unique insight into the force behind the large-scale changes in society, stimulating a new discourse on the ramifications of this fast-paced rhythm for the communities.
About the artists:
Ouka Leele, born in 1957 in Madrid, is a Spanish photographer whose real name is Barbara Allende Gil de Biedma. Even though she wanted to be a painter, she discovered photography as a medium to express her natural and intensive artistic sensitivity. It is in the 1980s in Madrid during the nation’s “Movida” movement that she demonstrated her interest in a variety of artistic disciplines such as drawing, serigraphy, painting and literature resulting in a series of photos labelled as “icons of her time”. It is in the same
period that her greatest triumphs came where her works reflected the eclectic spirit of this countercultural movement along with establishing a lifelong collaboration and close friendship with Almodovar and Mariscal.
In her watercolor on black and white photography works one recognizes the references to ancient civilizations, mythological stories, literature and intimate worlds of family and friends placed in different settings including portraits and self-portraits. Her portraits rendered through the original technique of coloring the montaged photos display her attempt to redefine human essence via “identity” sketching.
Often additionally hand-painted Leele’s works reveal the connections between life, emotions and its translations in art language. Its prestigious work has been exhibited in cities such as Paris, London, Tokyo, Sao Paulo and New York. She was awarded the 2004 Culture Prize by the Community of Madrid and the 2005 National Photography Award, and her works can be found in a number of collections including Collection Arco (Madrid), Foundation Cartier (Paris), Foundation La Caixa (Barcelona), Cervantes Institute (Lisbon), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Madrid), Tabaco Gitanes (Paris).
Yao Lu (姚璐), born in 1967 in Beijing, is a Beijing-based artist and Professor of Photography at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. He graduated with a Bachelor Degree from the Printmaking Department at CAFA and completed a Master of Arts in Visual Arts from a joint program between the Central Academy of Fine Arts - CAFA and Griffith University's Queensland College of Art - QCA in Australia in 2000. Yao Lu has developed a recognizable technique of photomontage manipulations that borrow from classical Chinese aesthetic style of painting.
Yao’s works seem harmonious from far, but a closer look reveals depiction of contemporary issues artist has been tackling in his artworks. He evokes tradition in his landscapes, but simultaneously activates the dialogue between the tradition and present that both become the subject of development and preservation. Ancient paintings recall a peaceful and poetic atmosphere with a Utopian ideal, while his “landscape” add a contemporary touch dealing with the problems of the pollution, consumerism, idolization and the syndrome of the “spectacle society”.
Comments on the rapid changes of the environment and consequences of the modernization in China show the tension between the past and present. Photoshopping reality is the artist's way of decoding the same reality and the symbols one is surrounded by living in a constantly changing culture. Sharp contrast between the once harmonious nature and the new devastating and polluted environment serve as a warning to the viewer about the ramifications of the large-scale transformations for the society. However, Yao is not providing the audience with an answer nor solution for the current state of being, but rather motivates the viewer to ponder about the consequences of the latter mentioned facts.
Yao Lu has exhibited throughout China, as well as in France, Italy, USA, England, Australia and Korea. He was awarded the Paris Photo Prize for Contemporary photography in 2008.
Nathalie Perakis – Valat, also known by her Chinese name Bei Ling Yue 贝灵悦, is a French photographer born in 1970 in Paris, who has lived in Brussels, Madrid, New York and Düsseldorf before moving to Shanghai in 2010 and finding the big city, its challenges and contrasts fascinating. Capturing these surroundings with her camera, Perakis – Valat adds digital manipulation to emphasize the surrealistic vision of the city in her aesthetic and sociological documentation in the series titled Shanghai series. One of her first works Do You Want a Haircut? was selected and published in January 2012 by the French magazine PHOTO in the Digital Creation category.
Her 2013 series Lilong Treasures takes a more nuanced approach, featuring close-up images of awnings from old lilong neighborhoods that appear as abstract works of light, texture, and color, capturing a sense of mysterious awe while in the Natural Fireworks series photographer shows her fascination of this Chinese 12-century innovation intended to scare away evil spirits.
Her new Shanghai Keystones project explores the challenges of today’s status of workers relocating from small villages to the megacities in search for a better life. She has held solo exhibitions at the Atelier Yann Arthus-Bertrand (Paris), Art+ Shanghai Gallery (Shanghai) and her works have bean featured in a number of group shows and fair including Magda Danysz Gallery (Shanghai), Grand Prix Photo (France), Art Stage Singapore and Art Central (Hong Kong).