Across the Mists of Time and Space
Shaoyan Yu’s landscape images seem as if they are about to be torn apart and swallowed by a black hole. These landscapes try to leave evidence of their existence before their own light is completely dimmed. This evidence is the “that has been” that Roland Barthes sums up as the essence of photography.
When our eyes wander on the surface of his works, we can feel the texture surface of the images, sometimes like rock, sometimes like rice paper. When our gaze slides over the dimly distinguishable mountains, rivers, oceans, trees, skies and ponds in the picture, we find it difficult to grasp the anchor of reality. Thus, the landscapes we gaze at become a channel, leading us into the depths of our own heart, to the misty time and space.
Shaoyan Yu, who went to Germany from China, had faced an escalating conflict between the two minds and cultures in his head. When confronted with nature, he found the spiritual commonality between China and Germany in terms of nature. Although he is equipped with philosophical reflections on Chinese landscapes and a deep understanding of German painting, as a creator, Shaoyan Yu’s creations must in the end come back to himself.
Shaoyan Yu’s ambiguous black and white images are full of suggestive and symbolic energy. This energy can fold and distort time and space, engulfing and digesting the real landscape. Thus, we can see that a specific landscape is transformed into a broader holistic nature after his abstract expression.
Although Shaoyan Yu’s works do not have a clear and recognizable exact landscape, there is always the aura of reality flowing everywhere. It is precisely because of his use of photography as a medium that his works are taken from reality, so that we, as viewers, will first view his works from a realistic perspective. But then, due to its abstraction and ambiguity, we will fall from the surface of reality into the mist of time and space.
The time and space in the mist in Shaoyan Yu’s work is tranquil, free, solitary, and silent. They may have accommodated Shaoyan Yu’s real life and emotional experience. They may have witnessed the silence and desolation of the universe that Shaoyan Yu felt when he was alone with nature. But the solemn silence emanates from the black and white shadows of his works allow us to ignore the suddenly disorganized world while gazing at the picture.
Faced with a world that is irretrievably disintegrating, what could be more liberating and spiritual than a gateway to another time and space, where we can be placed in the only nature we can rely on? Perhaps that is why we are willing to follow the aura of his reality and disappear into the mists of time and space.