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Painting with light

發佈時間:2021-04-01 10:42:05 | 來源:China Daily | 作者: | 責任編輯:楊俊康

A dragon light painting in Pingyao, Shanxi province.〔Photo provided to China Daily〕

A former rugby player has successfully adopted a photography technique to illustrate images, Cheng Yuezhu reports.

With two cameras, a tripod and a DIY light kit, artist Roy Wang roams the streets of Guangzhou, Guangdong province, at night.

As he waves his lights in the air in a meticulous manner that may seem odd to passers-by, the camera, set in long-exposure mode, captures the evanescent streaks and unveils the mystery of his work.

In these phantasmagoric photos, the ancient meets the futuristic, as glistening mythical creatures from The Classic of Mountains and Seas emerge in front of the skyscrapers and historical sites of Guangzhou. One can see a blue phoenix spreading its gigantic wings in front of the Canton Tower or the”king of koi”leaping out of the Pearl River amid lotus blossoms.

The series of photographs is created by light painting in which the photographer uses light sources to produce different images through long exposure of the camera lens, as if drawing on the photos.

The 34-year-old has been practicing this technique for over a decade and is now a representative figure of light-painting photography in China.

”What fascinates me the most about light painting is that, by using a simple light and against a dark backdrop, I can paint in an unconstrained style,” Wang says.

A light painting by Wang in Guangzhou portrays mythological creatures from The Classic of Mountains and Seas.〔Photo provided to China Daily〕

”The expectation between the first click of the shutter, when the process begins, and the second click, when I can see the final product, provides a sense of surprise I am constantly drawn to.”

Wang was a professional rugby player, playing for the Chinese national rugby team from 2005 to 2009, and went to 10 international competitions. In 2009, he went to Japan to play for a rugby club.

However, his sports career ended in 2012 because of cervical spondylosis, and photography literally became his light in the darkness. His travels led to his interest in photography, and when he saw light-painting photos by Spanish master Pablo Picasso online, Wang was introduced to the technique.

”I remember, in those days, I used to train during the day, and in the evenings, I’d take my camera to a small park and practice light-painting photography, usually for two or three hours,” Wang says, adding that many locals kept their distance.

Wang draws an analogy between sports and the photo technique, both of which require muscle memory through practice. With only a basic background in sketching, he earlier needed to work on simple images dozens of times to get them right. It took him two years to become familiar with the structure of the dragon, for example, which is now one of his signature motifs.

A work showing a Chinese dragon by Roy Wang and other artists broke the Guinness World Record for the largest light drawing in 2018.〔Photo provided to China Daily〕

Returning to China in 2013, he started integrating Chinese cultural elements into light painting, from mystical flowers to mythical animals, including the dragon and other creatures from ancient texts.

”I am first and foremost a Chinese, and also, I used to play for the national team in foreign countries, so it is my wish to take Chinese culture overseas,” he says.

Wang’s work is inspired by mythical creatures that add a sense of mystery to his photography but at the same time such images prove difficult to render using light. He researches folk tales from China before drawing a mental picture of his creation.

Wang says his favorite works are those related to The Classic of Mountains and Seas books, especially a series created for a wildlife-protection exhibition at the Tianjin China House museum, in which mythical creatures”stride”over the building known for its collection of antique porcelain pieces.

A work shows a phoenix in front of the Canton Tower, Guangzhou.〔Photo provided to China Daily〕

”The mythical creatures are as mysterious as light painting itself. They both emerge in the darkness, and without an exact shape or form, they are free and unrestricted. I let loose my imagination, based on the descriptions in ancient books.”

Wang has been a member of the advisory board of the Light Painting World Alliance since 2015 and has met such foreign artists as Darren Pearson from the United States. Wang and Pearson have together created a light-painting photograph of a dinosaur and a dragon.

”It was clear to me that Roy’s light-illustration style was progressing quickly, as both of our detailed light creations were made on the first try,” Pearson writes in a recommendation for Wang’s 2019 book.

”After seeing him light paint a Chinese dragon perfectly two times in a row, I could see that Roy could draw just about anything he wanted to with light.”

Wang’s book, Light Painting: An Artform for Everyone, stresses the photo technique does not require expensive equipment but creativity and serendipitous inspiration.

Light painting artist Roy Wang.〔Photo provided to China Daily〕

In 2016, when attending the second International Light Art Congress in Oviedo, Spain, Wang took a walk around the old town at night. Captivated by a street scene, he started light-painting an ethereal flower with his mobile phone. The photo, entitled The Flower of Oviedo, shows it blossom under a faint yellow streetlight below a staircase. It won the special prize at the Oviedo Grand Contest.

Wang also organized the Longhushan International Light Painting Exhibition in Jiangxi province the same year.

To him, the technique has a wide application in expressing different ideas. Apart from traditional cultural elements, he has been portraying themes relevant to more-recent events, such as a series paying tribute to medical workers amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Another series, United by Light, uses images of light-painted slogans in different languages that encourage people around the world to unite and have faith in the fight against the pandemic.

Tradition will continue to be a creative force for Wang as he explores adding more Chinese elements in his works, including a new series on Lunar New Year, creating photos that have both aesthetic value and cultural meaning.