LONG MUSEUM WEST BUND
The Long Museum (West Bund) is pleased to present Qin Yifeng, solo exhibition of artist Qin Yifeng. On view from January 27 to March 31, 2024, the exhibition features negative works by the artist, one of the most well-known and recurrent themes throughout Qin's practice. It's been over a decade since Qin Yifeng first started working on the negative series since 2010. Following the vein of time, the exhibition presents negative works created by Qin during different periods. Independently conceived but when presented in tandem with each other, the different series of works show multiple layers of superpositions and progressions which contain contradictions while also give out a sense of integrity. The over 200 pieces of gelatin silver negatives and giclee prints collectively form an epitome of Qin Yifeng’s artistic practice over the past decade.
Negatives featuring old and crumbling austere-style furniture pieces of Ming Dynasty and produced by Qin Yifeng between 2013 to 2023 constitute the main body of the exhibition. 27 giclee prints and 145gelatin silver negatives form the entirety of "twenty-seven couplets as one", occupying three gallery spaces. Qin Yifeng has been repetitively experimenting in these works: by photographing the three-dimensional into two-dimensional, dissolving the materiality of objects, making the visible invisible, and representing the ethereal sunlight in the form of a cube, multilayered contradictions progress further and further following the vein of time. The monumental height of the main gallery of the Long Museum imbues the exhibition design with new inspirations: the works are liberated from the walls – The new work composed of 24 gray cubes, 24 Blocks of Sunshine are placed on the floor for presentation for the very first time. It enhances the contradictions embedded in the works. Moreover, the confrontation between the space Qin Yifeng has compressed into his works during the past decade and the 12m-high gallery space instills the works with new vitality and complexity, making them the center of the exhibition.
In the world of photography, photo is deemed as "positive"; and film on the other hand, "negative" and is usually not presented independently in itself. Through a highly complicated filming process, Qin Yifeng manages to imbue the negative films with unique aesthetic and artistic value, which becomes his signature form of artistic expression. Concerning "negative" as a concept, Qin Yifeng said: "Negative films are not negative and do not mean the end. Instead, negative is to be converted into positive. In my mind there's no such a notion as 'negative'. Neither do I see it as merely film. Film is a material. It's neutral and not explanative. In my view, 'negative' stands for a position and I want this 'negative' position."
Qin Yifeng's investigation into negatives could be traced back to the book Round and Square – Austere Style Furniture of Ming Dynasty published in 2010. While taking pictures of a table corner from the Ming Dynasty, the idea of making three-dimensional objects flat through camera occurred to him. The creation of spatial contradictions by rendering the three-dimensional through two-dimensionality could be perceived in Qin's earlier paintings during the 1990s. Xian Chang ( field of lines) , one of Qin's earlier paintings, and Round and Square – Austere Style Furniture of Ming Dynasty are both on view at the exhibition, offering visitors insights into the artist's original motivation and how he started to work on negatives.
In recent years, Qin Yifeng has shifted his camera to roses. To dissolve the sense of three-dimensionality within the negative space, he introduced earthworm castings from his own courtyard into his works as painting material. As far as he's concerned, different from the rich cultural connotations embedded in the austere-style furniture of Ming Dynasty, roses are more approachable and easier to find. Both the crumbling pieces of furniture and withered roses indicate an end of life and regeneration afterwards. He chooses the after-images of life as the subject of his photographs, touching upon issues of death and termination, which, in his works, are reflected as further void and emptiness: within the grey bleakness, objects seem as if they were not there, almost vanishing. In the face of death and termination, how to experience them and reconcile with them are a recurrent theme in Qin's works.
To truly understand Qin Yifeng's work takes insights into his "trinity-based" creation process: negative, negative screening and giclee print, which are all demonstrated in this exhibition. Qin deals with negatives very precisely and rigorously. He chooses specific types of camera and film, waits for sunlight to illuminate the objects evenly to make sure that every bit of the image is in focus, and names each negative based on the time of shooting and weather conditions. In the exhibition, the screening process of negatives and the results of such screening (giclee print) are both presented to the public, giving visitors the right for re-selection and free expression/interpretation. In the meantime, the multi-layered presentation provides visitors with multifaceted perceptions and experiences.
Contradiction is at the core of Qin Yifeng's practice. Intentionally or unintentionally, within the superpositions and collisions of multiple contradictions, Qin Yifeng's work renders the cycles of time, space and life, attempting to trace what it would be like after the end of life and the earth. It’s a proposition that is far more ambitious and beyond any known answers. As Qin puts it: "What’’ll be it like after life comes to an end? What’ll be it like after the earth comes to an end? I have no answers to these questions. I want to experience it through my work."
About the Artist
Qin Yifeng was born in 1961 in Qinghai, China, and moved to Shanghai the following year. He graduated from Shanghai Arts and Crafts College in 1983 and then continued his education at the College of Fine Arts, Shanghai University, completing his studies in 1989. He held a teaching post at Shanghai University till retirement. Qin began painting abstract works in 1983 and during the 85 New Wave Art Movement, he participated in the “Exhibition of Modern Art by Six Artists“ at Fudan University, Shanghai. In 1986 he created cloth sculptures and participated in a performance with Ding Yi and Zhang Guoliang at the “First Shanghai Concave-Convex Exhibition”. In 1989 Qin was included in “China/Avant-Garde Exhibition” organized by the National Art Museum of China, Beijing. Around 1992, he began a new series of abstract paintings titled The Cube; in 1993 developed a further series titled Xian Chang ( field of lines); and began to work on the Negative series in 2010. Qin was awarded the gold medal in the landscape design competition at the “10th National Art Exhibition” in 2004. In 2009, his publication Round and Square – Austere Style Furniture of Ming Dynasty was launched at am Art Space in Shanghai.
Qin Yifeng's recent solo exhibitions include: “Line & Field”, Mind Set Art Center, Taipei, 2016; “Qin Yifeng’s Works”, YUZ Museum, Shanghai, 2017; “Negative Reading丨Reading Negatives”, White Cube, Hong Kong, 2019; “Xian Zai An Yin”, MUD Gallery, Shanghai, 2021; “Disillusion”, Light Society, Beijing, 2022; “   ”, Magician Space, Beijing, 2023. Qin Yifeng has participated in group exhibitions at renowned institutions including Museum of Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Guangdong Museum of Art, PowerLong Museum, Ming Yuan Art Museum, and Long Museum.