m97 Gallery No. 97 Moganshan Road 2F 200060 Shanghai Chine
m97 Gallery, Shanghai, is pleased to present ROBERT van der HILST’s recently completed photographic project, Chinese Interiors The Dutch photographer spent 5 years creating this important body of work, on a scale and scope unlike anything of its kind in modern Chinese photography to date. Signed copies of Van der Hilst’s recently published 280-page Chinese Interiors monograph will also be available for purchase in the gallery.
Taken across numerous provinces throughout China, Robert van der Hilst’s photographs were born out of a curiosity and continuing interest in the world’s most populated country, China. Chinese Interiors was originally conceived as portraits of people and “interior” spaces throughout China. The diversity of locations and consistency of the photographs reveal something much more profound than mere space or representations of the Chinese people. Seen as an entire body of work, the photographs themselves constitute a certain emotional and psychological “interior” to the people and places found across China. The photographs depict and represent a vast nation, often still much rooted in traditional lifestyles and living conditions and with a Confucian value placed on home and family. There are also political remnants and uprooted pasts found in van der Hilst’s photographs, where the scale and speed of social change in the past 50 years of modern China has been almost unparalleled.
The photographs are created in close proximity to their subjects, and often in the intimate confines of ordinary people’s homes or one-room living spaces. Simple elements of color and ordinary objects reveal the identities and histories of the people dwelling there. Photographed on film and tripod, van der Hilst’s skill and sensitivity to natural lighting of his human subjects and still life scenes clearly draw direct influences from painters of the Dutch Golden Age. Ordinary still life objects and interior scenes that document everyday life and anonymous people also formally become explorations in light, texture, color and composition. From Xinjiang to Shanghai, Yunnan to Hunan to Sichuan, Robert van der Hilst’s epic journey and project of documenting hundreds of ordinary Chinese people and their interior dwelling spaces will prove to be an important contemporary and historical documentation of one of the largest and most dynamic nations of our times.
Robert van der Hilst, born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, lives and works between Shanghai and Paris. He has been a professional photographer since the 1960’s and has made numerous projects from Cuba and South America to Africa, the Middle East and Asia. First visiting China in 1990 on assignment, van der Hilst’s interest in China was immediate upon arrival, and he would later go on to spend much time photographing in Shanghai during 1990-1993. His photographs have been widely exhibited in China and in galleries, museums and photography festivals around the world. This will be Robert van der Hilst’s second solo exhibition at m97 Gallery in Shanghai. In 2008 the gallery exhibited works from his series titled “Shanghai 1990-1993”.