When I first encountered the works in Jiang Penyi’s series Dark Addiction (2013), the perfection of their forms and meanings were, to me, something like a destruction, or a pause, communicating a sadness.
Jiang Pengyi, The Suspended Moment No.4, 2013, photograph archival inkjet print mounted on aluminium panel, 150 × 119 cm. Courtesy the artist and Shanghart Gallery, Shanghai
On photosensitive paper, the fireflies have left, with the light of their lives, a trace that is like the birth or death of the universe, lending the works a sense of eternity. In Dark Addiction, Jiang uses a cameraless technique to record the movement of light emitted by bioluminescent insects. His method of imagemaking combines technology and aesthetics to encapsulate the essence of light, time and life.
Jiang Pengyi, The Suspended Moment No.1, 2013, photograph archival inkjet print mounted on aluminium panel, 150 × 119 cm. Courtesy the artist and Shanghart Gallery, Shanghai
He developed this approach in The Suspended Moment (2013) and In Some Time (2015–), in which light is also the primary subject. In the former, he captures its refractions through cracked ice; in the latter, he creates abstract blurs of colour using light-reactive paper.
Jiang Pengyi, In Some Time No.4, 2016, archival inkjet print, 179 × 140 cm. Courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong
Hovering at the boundary between abstraction and figuration, Jiang’s photographs seek to make the ephemeral tangible.
Jiang Pengyi lives and works in Beijing. He was awarded the Aletti ArtVerona Prize for Photography in 2011 and nominated for the Prix Pictet in 2012. He has had a number of solo exhibitions at Shanghart and Blindspot Gallery (2010–17) and presented work at the Guangzhou Image Triennial in 2017.
Liu Wei is an artist based in Beijing.
From the Summer 2018 issue of ArtReview Asia, in association with K11 Art Foundation