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PHOTOSYNTHESIS - Group Exhibition
June 3- August 13, 2017

M97 Gallery is delighted to present “PHOTOSYNTHESIS”, a group exhibition of 13 artists working in the photographic medium. The exhibition opens Saturday June 3 with a reception for the artists from 5-7pm at the gallery and a media preview from 4-5pm. The exhibition will be held in the gallery’s main floor (1st floor) gallery space at 363 Changing Road in Shanghai (Jingan District). Gallery artists exhibiting include works by Han Lei, Dong Wensheng, Michael Wolf, Adou, Luo Dan, Lin Zhipeng (aka 223), and Jiang Zhi, as well as Lei Benben, Cai Dongdong, Shen Wei, Chu Chu, Sun Yanchu and Hisun Wong.


Photosynthesis and photography are two chemical processes which essentially need light. While the first one uses energy from the sun to transform and grow life among plants and vegetation, the second one literarily writes with light. The interaction of light combined with other elements provokes chemical reactions invisibly transforming or seizing our reality. Either in nature and in human made technics, light seems to be the main protagonist for creation to happen. Sunlight via the chemical reaction of photosynthesis allows plants to grow, trees blooming, and flowers to realize their colorful beauty in shape and form. Light helps capturing our environment, depicting stories, shaping images. If the powerful energy offered by nature has been analyzed by scientists for centuries, its fascination has also inspired creators of all kinds, from music to literature, including visual arts. Particular to the medium of photography and video arts, the harnessing and utilization of light by the artist results in an energy transformation of their subject synthesizing into an artistic communication.


Beyond their decorative properties and symbolism, plants and flowers have seen their interpretation and depiction evolving through the history of art. While systematically carrying a symbolic meaning during the Middle Ages, the Renaissance begins to represent flowers detached from religious iconography. Two schools then appear, with a will of painting flowers from life in Italy, and setting still-lives in the Netherlands. Many representations of bouquets appeared, giving to flowers the metaphorical concepts of life and death, along with the ephemerality of beauty and existence. Later, the realistic representation of flowers gives way to expressing emotions with painters like Vincent Van Gogh and his sunflowers, evoking mass consumption for Andy Warhol and even bordering on abstraction and sensuality with Georgia O’Keefe. Not being outdone, many photographic artworks testify the rich creativity flowers inspire, wether it be for their metaphorical interpretation or their plastic representation. Their beauty, shape and meaning raise them as main subjects, from pure aesthetic to sexual connotation with Robert Mapplethorpe, to technical experimentations with the surrealists.  


“PHOTOSYNTHESIS” gathers photographs celebrating the refinement and symbols of flowers and foliage in general. If Adou creates mise en scene to emphasize their pathos, Michael Wolf almost conceives a documentation on urban plants, while Han Lei explores technics that experiment three-dimensional imagery. All together, the artists of the show attest to the infinite possibilities and diversity of technical approaches in photography while alluding to floral representation throughout art history.

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