From Andrew Frost…
Metaphor in photography is a tricky business. Overloaded symbolism and obvious references can torpedo even the most well intentioned attempt to wrest away from painting and sculpture the language of poetry. Chen Wei’s photographs succeed because they remain ambiguous even when they’re being obvious. In The Stars In The Sky Were Innumerable, a survey of recent work curated by up-and-coming young curator John McDonald for Head On, Chen Wei works in two familiar modes.
The first approach is found in works such as A Foggy Afternoon with its glimpse of a figure behind clouded glass, and In The Waves with its disco of dancing figures and perhaps even in Ping Pong with its forlorn table and balls, images with the appearance of art-directed reportage. Other works represent the second kind of approach: A Lighthouse Was Winking In The Far Distance, the exhibition title piece and Half of The Statue are production numbers somewhere between a glammed up Roger Ballen or a modest version of Gregory Crewdson – staged moments enacted for the camera. But despite the familiarity of the styles Chen Wei utilises for his images, the matter-of-fact delivery of these frozen moments has a beguiling presence.
Until June 12
Australia China Art Foundation, St. Leonards
Pic: Chen Wei, A Lighthouse Was Winking in the Far Distance 2010. Archival Inkjet Print, 100 cm x 120 cm.