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AO Vertical Space
2014.06.20 Fri - 2014.08.30 Sat
Opening Exhibition
06/20/2014 16:00
AO: Vertical Art Space c/o AO: The Photo Book Center 3-13/F, Asia One Tower 8 Fung Yip Street Chai Wan, Hong Kong 香港柴灣豐業街8號宏亞大廈3至13樓
+852 2976 0913
Opening Hours
Tues-Sat 10am-6pm

Sarah Green
Sarah Green

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Michael Kenna: China
[Press Release]

Michael Kenna’s first solo exhibition at AO Vertical Space Gallery will open on Friday, June 20th. Titled CHINA, this exhibition will highlight an impressive body of photographic work made in China by Michael Kenna between 2006 and 2014. The exhibition will feature the famous mountains and landscapes of Huangshan, Lijiang and Yuanyang as well as less known locations in Heliongjang, Xiapu and Yunnan. It will include work from the cities of Beijing and Shanghai, and locally from Hong Kong. Many of the images are compiled in Michael Kenna’s latest book project, also titled CHINA, recently published by Posts and Telecom Press, Beijing.

Michael Kenna is arguable today’s most important landscape photographer. His timeless monochrome images capture the inner essence of nature’s beauty. Kenna filters reality through long time exposures, which create ‘empty’ space, reminding us of Chinese ink paintings. When photographing, Kenna looks for simplicity of lines and interesting abstract forms. As per Kenna’s own words: “I don’t need to be fast, I don’t need high definition, I don’t need to see the world in colour – that’s what we see all the time. I want my work to be mysterious, an interpretation, a catalyst for one’s imagination.”

Michael Kenna is one of those rare people who have resisted the fast pace dictated to us in today’s rushed city life. Kenna prefers to take his time and work alone, slowly. He has been doing this for over forty years. When he explores a new location he never knows ahead of time how long he will be there: a few minutes, some hours or days. He often returns to the same place repeatedly over a long period of time. As Kenna says: “It’s like connecting with a friend; you never know how long a conversation will last and which area the conversation will go into.” This attitude extends to his working method in the darkroom. Kenna still works in analogue only. He photographs primarily with Hasselblad film cameras and spends hours in the darkroom developing the perfect photographic print as if he was chiseling a sculpture. The resulting atmospheric imagery expresses a unique zen-like tranquility.

Initially influenced by the European masters Bill Brandt, Eugene Atget and Josef Sudek, Kenna has been photographing in Asia since the mid eighties, particularly in Japan, and more recently in China, India, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. He admits to being strongly influenced by the sense of serenity and calmness in the Asian landscape. It harkens back to the essence of haiku poetry, the power of suggestion over description. “I’ve also looked at Asian calligraphy and traditional sumi-e paintings. These artworks have been very influential. My style has grown increasingly more minimal and sparse”.

Michael Kenna’s exhibition offers a refreshing escape from our pressured city life and encourages the viewer to slow down and take some time to absorb the spirituality and beauty of what is around us.