Monthly Archives: October 2018

The Art of the Mountain – China Institute

The Art of the Mountain is a delightful photography exhibition by a number of talented Chinese photographers. Currently being host in the private gallery of the China Institute in Tribeca, New York.
The Exhibit contains a collection of stunning imagery of mountains, capture in its most appealing and compound way. From the collection, there is three pieces that stood out to me the most.

Lopsided Tree, taken in 2008 at Mountain Sanqing, Jiangxi by Lu Yanpeng (b. 1984)“When I cannot paint, I write poems to record my feelings. But When I have the camera , Is almost as if I could neither write nor paint so that I could focus all my emotions on “That single moment ” As Lu Yanpeng mentions in the description this particular series are poems. This photograph say a whole lot more than it shows at first glance it might appear simple and with out much to say about it, but take a second look. This frame is what i call a silent scream. The setting is simple yet professionally composed. The composition: The side of a mountain with a lopsided tree on top left corner, falling along down the curved line of the mountain across the frame creating a stylistic “S curve” diagonal filling the frame from top to bottom. Contrast of the dark Mountain and light sky. The Poem: One image says more than a thousand words, this is the photographer feelings of a particular mood of his life that we do not necessarily know, but we could stare at this image and dive into endless stories and feelings and make it our own story, perhaps a dream. Dreamy, fantasy, moody, melancholy, even horror are some of the many words I could say about this. Quite Inspiring.

Peach Blossom Colony No.1 , 2011, source images of the photo collage: Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei, and others. The subject of the peach blossom colony derives from the fiction “Peach Blossom Spring” written by the Eastern Jin dynasty Tao Yuanming. Based on a bitter scent for modernism and the materialism that possesses the new generation and has taken away the spiritual and naturistic side of our human side. At first glance, It amazed me since it looked as a fantasy painting. Taking a closer look I admired the details and shifted up and down emotions. This composition is represented in a panorama landscape. Earth, sky, field. In fist plane a lady wearing a white dress. She is facing the landscape contemplating the city in the distance from the contrast of nature. Perhaps she is a reminiscence of times or she is being lured into the city. Well balanced composition in my opinion. Trees or set of branches on each side almost as putting a parenthesis to frame the scene. The lady is standing in the left 2/4 lower section of the frame. In the opposite side is the mountain to balance the weight in the upper section. Now the key attraction here is the mountains. What at first glance look like simple mountains, are more than that. Probably the most meticulously editing part of this piece, the mountains are fuse with buildings or to be more specific, its a set of buildings fused into a mountain shape with a quite impressive detail.

Huangshan W25, 1991 by Wang Wusheng (b.1995) Taken at Lion Peak, Mount Huang. Another impressive composition with two rows of mountains were one is being hit by the light of the sun, while the others are on shade. Judging by the shadows on the rocks it seem to be at an early sunrise, since the light its at an 10 degree angle blocking the light for other mountains. The clouds, the fog is what made me stop for this one. The light from the sun is very bright hence the exposure for this shot had to be quite fast giving the opportunity of a couple of shots, but maybe he just waited for the right time to take it. The motion of the fog coming down the mountain it gives a feeling of the power of nature and the majesty of of creation and makes you think how small we are against the divine nature.

Art of the Mountain: Through the Chinese Photographer’s Lens

The Patriarch of the Five Sacred Mountains on Mount Tai, 2001 By: Yan Shi


This is a photo of a series of rocks atop a snowy mountain top.  The left side of the rocks are in light and feature chinese characters inscribed in them in a red color. The right side of the photo is in shadow which helps highlight the bright glowing red calligraphy that is carved into the left face of the rocks.  The photo itself is very clear and crisp which really captures the overall cold vibe of the photo. The photographer seems to be trying to capture the beauty of the characters in a natural landscape. The description of the photo states that the inscription on the rocks are an emblem for Mount Tai.  It is almost as if these inscriptions are sort of the entrance/peak of this mountain top. The rock sort of serves as the historical landmark that has had generations leave their mark on it.



After the Painting “Autumn Colors in the Que and Hua Mountains” By: Hong Lei


I really like this photo and I think that’s because I enjoy photographs of industrial structures.  Metal structures are somewhat menacing and majestic in their own way. The photo is a panoramic view of an industrial factory complex. And it is pieced together from multiple photos to create the panoramic effect.   The sky has a purple and blue gradient that creates sort of a calm feeling to the photo which consists of a maze of metal, concrete and smoke stacks. There is one particular smoke stack in the center of the image that has smoke coming out dividing the image entirely in half.  It disturbs the light purple sky and interrupts the flow of the photo. That being said the smoke sort of represents how industry/industrialism interrupts the beauty of nature. Which is what I think the photographer is trying to emphasize through this photo. Nature is sacred and industrialism puts in danger the environment that people need to inhabit.  


The Four Deities of the Himalayan Range, By: Zhang Anlu


This is an incredibly breathtaking image.  The photograph features a series of mountain scapes that go from a dark sandy brown all the way to snowy mountain tops.  The photographer seems to capture miles and miles of mountain tops all from the peak that they are perched on. The 4 Himalayan peaks are often not seen and I assume that is because of cloud coverage. However, Photographer Zhang Anlu manages to capture an exciting photo of a crisp cool mountain scapes that changes dramatically in light and dark shades.  The mountains create a sort of gradient of light and dark all the way until it hits the horizon line and blue sky. The photographer creates and almost unreal image. They bring you to an almost otherworldly environment through this image.

Art of the Mountain: Through the Chinese Photographer’s Lens

Art of the Mountain: Through the Chinese Photographer’s Lens is a beautiful exhibition located at the China Institute. The exhibition features various photographers who captured various mountain range. Although all the photos displayed were very well composed, three of them in particular, stood out to me the most.

The first photo is Minyak Gangkar in the Last Night of the Sun by Zhang Anlu. The mountain photographed is a sacred mountain in Tibet. Zhang Anlu informs viewers about its dangerous and mysterious reputation. When I saw this photo the first thing I noticed was the contrast in colors. The mountaintop is a beautiful warm tone against a very cool sky. The mountain is easily separated from the sky due to the fact that orange and blue are complementary colors. Anlu also captured the part of the mountain that isn’t lit by the Sun. I assume he waits for the perfect moment to capture the fog that passes through this mountain. This is very smart because the fog compliments the mysterious nature of this mountain. The textures and grooves of the mountain are also shown by the snow that covers it. This is a very beautiful photo that is very well composed by Anlu.

The second photo that stood out to me was Huangshan A054 by Wang Wusheng. I think this is a beautiful photo simply because of the strong, dark organic shape against and very muted background. This photo reminds me of a sublime painting. The naked tree branch leads your eyes out into the mountains that stand behind it. The mountains are a lighter gray tone with fog surrounding it. I think the photographer may have wanted to capture other aspects of nature that surround these mountains such as trees. It almost gives off a feeling of mystery and serenity due to the rugged shape of the branch and calm fog that’s surrounds everything. I like this because the photographer manages to take your eyes to the mountains without making it the main subject of the photo.

Lastly, Peach Blossom Colony by Yang Yongliang. This photo is very interesting because it was manipulated by the artist to further develop his intended message. I think there are two subjects to this photo: the woman and the mountains. The woman is wearing a white dress and seems to be walking towards the mountains in the distance. The most interesting thing about this photo is when you look at it from a distance, it looks like a very calm scene. However, the closer you look, the more details you will start to notice. What I noticed were the mountains. The mountains are actually constructed from buildings. Some residential, some corporate. This is obviously done to spread a message. The photographer wants to show his viewers how society overtakes all the nature that is around us. All that is natural is slowly being destructed and more man-made materials are taking the place of nature. This photo is black and white. I think this is a very smart choice because it gives off a serious tone of voice which is what is needed for this pressing issue.

Art of the Mountain: Through the Chinese Photographer’s Lens

The pieces from exhibit Art of the Mountain: Through the Chinese Photographer’s Lens at the China Institute Gallery were all very well composed and beautifully shot.

The first photograph I chose was Huangshan: Monkey Enjoying a View of the Sea, 2012 by Zhang Jiaxuan. The first thing I noticed from this photograph was the rich blue color from the mountains and the sea of clouds. It wasn’t until I carefully looked at the photo that I saw this monkey looking figure on the top left. After reading the description that goes along with this photograph, it turns out that it’s not an actual monkey but actually a huge rock. This reminded me of the Monkey King. Those of you, who aren’t familiar with the tale he is a fictional character born from a stone who is immortal, possesses strength and speed, is able to transform and has a staff. Zhang wanted to capture this magical sea of clouds because it makes you feel as if you were in the sky, that it isn’t a sea on earth, but a sea in heaven. It is interesting to hear that because the Monkey King wanted to be amongst the gods as an equal but was never recognized as one, so he rebelled. In this photograph, it is kind of like the monkey king looking into the distance at heaven, a place he longs to be a part of but can’t reach.

Addressing the composition of this photograph, there is a rule of thirds, the monkey rock on top of the peak in a third of the frame. Based on the angle of light hitting the sides of the mountains, the light is coming from the right. There is a sense of depth, the mountain on the bottom right of the photo being in the foreground, the monkey on top of the peak mid-ground, and the sea of clouds in the background.

Another photograph I chose was Huangshan A093, 1991 by Wang Wusheng. This was taken at Paiyunting, Xihai area, Mount Huang. The composition of this photograph is in black and white. It looks like a scene taken right out of Jurassic Park with no signs of human life and uninhabitable. The mountain in the middle of the photo reminds me of a tuning fork. There is a strong contrast between dark and light. The misty fog seems to illuminate the details on the mountains, the trees hanging alongside, and the peak on the ‘tuning fork’ looking mountain. There is also a sense of foreground, mid-ground, and background. The trees on the bottom left of the mountain are the foreground, the two peaks in the midst of the fog in the middle ground, and the rest of the mountains and fog in the background. The ‘tuning fork’ peak could even be interpreted as an entrance to a different world but that might just be my imagination.

Lastly, the one that peaked my interest the most was the photograph titled Peach Blossom Colony, 2011 (Series: Peach Blossom Colony No. 1) by Yang Yongliang. The subject of Yang’s Peach Blossom Colony originates from Tao Yuanming’s “Record of the Peach Blossom Spring” fable in prose form about a fisherman who finds a secluded utopia. The subject of this photograph is the woman on the left wearing white. She is standing in what appears to be a deserted wasteland. To the right, you see scattered blossoms, a piece of machinery and in the back, you see these mountains. However, if you look up close these mountains are actually buildings collaged together to form the shape of the mountain. To the left behind the withering trees, you see what looks like suburb housing along with two other people. There were two directions the woman could have gone in, the one with the more peaceful secluded society or the modern, fast-paced society. By the way her body is positioned, she appears to be heading in the direction of the scattered blossoms and modern buildings.

In the foreground you have the woman standing in the barren wasteland, in the middle ground are the paths, and the background is the two different societies. The angle this is shot at seems kind of like a panoramic view. There is a composed direction to looking at this photograph; your eye automatically goes to the woman wearing the white dress because of the strong contrast. Then your eye follows her direction toward the scattered blossoms and onward to the mountains. Yang’s intended message is that in the development of today’s society, materialism and consumerism have progressively taken their toll on the life of mankind. What was once green forests are now concrete reinforced with iron bars. Seen from afar, his photograph seems very peaceful. When you take a closer look, you see the details and elements of modernization.

Philip Lorca-diCorcia’s ‘Hustlers’

Ralph Smith, 21 years old, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, $25

The Series “Hustlers” by Philip Lorca Dicorcia is a collection of photographs of male prostitutes of the 90’s. The portraits are capture in a remarkable lightning that seem mostly natural ambient light even though they all are meticulously planned. One of the Photographs I like to talk from the collection is “Ralph Smith” a 21 years old from Florida. I find the lightning in this composition was very well thought. Starting with the way Philip Lorca integrated the ambient light with the artificial. The use of the Big Bright led sign like a Soft box as a key light. In the opposite side he fills in the shadows, probably in the street with a gridded soft box to direct the light.

The composition is quite busy. It has street lights bouncing around everywhere but still it doesn’t distracts from the subject. The guy is set in the middle of the frame sitting in the grass looking at a lower corner of the frame blank point in space. Overall the lightning composition along with the character pose convey a quite dramatic scenario of a possible moment in a day of this individual. One can learn quite a lot from this artist by analyzing the light, the colors, the composition the way this artist think and frames a story. Captivating attention by first glance Phillips portrait works, tells you a whole lot of story with only one frame.

Dawoud Bey

He seems to focus on capturing a personal quality or an aspect of their personality. In conjunction with the environment or set where they are captured, which also plays part of their personalities. For example for this particular collection its about kids in the school most of the portraits are in a corner or against the wall. This could convey the message of feeling trapped on a social circle that is not of their nature or simply the feeling of self-consciousness.

Another aspect Bay uses to show their subjects personality  its posing. Arms crossed hi up showing a defensive side of their personality or leaning forward to show some attitude and self confidence.

The theme palette is colorful yet slightly muted.
Some portraits are warm while others are cold. He also uses color analogy for contrast. This helps drawing the eye to the subject’s character.

The rooms are well lid, the subject’s in this case teen students are mostly next to a window.
The lightning is soft and minimal almost as natural light from a window, which obviously seems to be Bay’s intention.

Philip Lorca Dicorcia

Philip Lorca Dicorcia is an American photographer. The series of Hustler was done during 1990s. The series was funded by the government. Dicorcia drove around Hollywood to find male prostitutes for his series and instead for sex, he paid them to take pictures. Although the photos in this series looks natural and candid, everything was taken into consideration by Dicorcia. The location, the posture of the models, the light, composition. And even though these photos look beautiful they have a story to tell. Each photo tells story of a young individual that came into Hollywood to find opportunity but sold themselves to provide pleasure. I like the picture of 28 years old Chris from Los Angeles, California. He was paid $30 for the picture. I like the cinematic feel of the picture. It has the beautiful perspective of the motel going toward the back. The posture and the place of the subject is also really powerful. It has a sort of depressed and lonely mood. The lights look really beautiful. It looks like the light is coming from the front and it lights up the edges of the subject’s face. It also puts the subject in focus. The shadow of the subject and railing from the light also look pleasing. Although the picture is staged, it depicts the reality of these young male prostitutes who came into Hollywood looking for oppurtunity.

Philip Lorca-Dicorcia

Philip Lorca-Dicorcia Hustler series depicts male prostitutes in the early 90s. He sets up the lighting to give off a certain emotion about each subject. One that stood out to me the most was Chris, 28 years old, Los Angeles, California, $30. There is so much going on in this photo and the lighting used really shows the life of this subject. Lorca-Dicorcia uses a front light on the subject’s face to show his emotion. This looks like a candid moment but without the light on his face, you wouldn’t be able to see his expression as well. The front light cast a large shadow onto the brick wall behind him. This gives off a more dramatic feel to the photo.

I like that he is in profile because it emphasizes his head tilting down. You really get to see his whole posture from a profile view. He is sitting down with bar-like rails in front of him. From this, I get the feeling of entrapment. I feel that the subject is trapped in this lifestyle as if this is something he has to do. The bars are also a great example of leading lines and perspective. You see them get smaller and it brings attention to the building across the street. The building across the street is lit with a cooler toned light. This brings out the contrast in this whole photo because of the warm toned red bricks. The photo also displays the rule of thirds. The split between the motel and greenish building across the street isn’t in the center but more off to the right. However, this places the subject in the center of the photo.

This is a very beautiful photo to look at. You start at the left with the large railings/bars and also see the doors. Then make your way to the shadow and subject of the photo to really understand the emotion that is being captured. As you move to the right, the doors and rails get smaller and point to the building across the street. I also see the cars kind of bring your eye back to the subject, once you’ve viewed the whole photo.

Phillip Lorca – Dicorcia Hustlers

Chris, 28 Years Old, Los Angeles, $30


This photo of Chris in Los Angeles has great composition.  Visually the photo is very interesting. Chris is sitting at what looks to be a balcony of a hotel or apartment complex which creates a very visually exciting portrait.  This photo isn’t the typical straight on portrait shot that you would focus on the subject. The photographer, Phillip Lorca uses the environment as much as the subject to create a visually exciting composition.  


The environment and position of the subject really sort of pushes a strong emotion.  The feeling you get from this photograph is sort of dreamy but also sad and hopeless.  Chris is sitting with his legs dangling off of the balcony and he is gazing at his feet in sort of a dreamy state.  However, it isn’t just him and his body language that communicate the dreaminess of the photo but the soft lighting and shadows that are created within the environment.  The leading lines from the balcony reading bring the viewers eye towards the green lighting that shines on the far building and past Chris.


It seems that Lorca took the photo from a similar position that Chris is sitting in, by hanging slightly on the outside of the balcony.  That being said he was able to capture a side profile with light casting on Chris’ face as he looks down at the parking lot. The use of the leading lines is important since it leads you from subject through environment which creates a very dimensional and interesting photograph.  Your eye is led around the image which gives it this open, airy and dreamy feel, really emphasizing this emotion of sort of a hopeless day dream that Chris seems to be in the midst of.