Xu Yong – 徐勇: A Second Look


The photographs of Xu Yong compel viewers to stop and have a second look, not quite sure how to respond to the fuzziness on them whether it is from their eyes or from the imageries.

In his series of works entitle 再看, A Second Look, what Xu wants is more than simply causing visual anxiety. He aims at challenging the very core of the methodology of photography. By deliberately disturbing the recording of objects that are in focus through a barrier on the camera, he forces viewers to fathom and switch from the traditional concept of picture-taking to image-taking made possible by photography, from the concept of “what to see” in photography to “how to see” the images.

By way of his confrontations with the tradition of photography, Xu produces a series of abstract imageries made up of blocks of vivid colours or patches of grey gradations similar to Chinese shun-mo paintings. What then appears familiar turns out to be awkwardly strange and what looks curiously bizarre is in fact an ordinary subject.

Xu Yong is no stranger to the Beijing art scene. He made his name twenty years ago photographing the Hutongs (old residential alleys or cul-de-sacs) of old Beijing. He was the founder of the Hutong-go-around Tour and the key figure and promoter behind the now world-renown Beijing 798 Art Zone.

Xu Yong - Tiananmen 天安門 2010

Xu Yong - 18% Gray 2010

Xu Yong - China Pavilion 中國館 2010


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