SHANGHAI, CHINA.- M97 Gallery presents "Chemical Landscape", a solo photography exhibition by Beijing-based photographer Zheng Nong. "Chemical Landscape" is an experimental body of color photographs in which the artist has created virtual landscapes on film from the chemical reaction of exposing color film directly to light. The artist has deliberately broken the boundaries of the familiar viewfinder and experimented with more unconventional realms of the film plane resulting in surreal landscapes blurring the boundaries of fact and fiction. These lush, futuristic landscapes captivate the viewer with exploding fiery sunsets and electric yellow skyscapes. "Chemical Landscape" technically and aesthetically presents us with a purity and freshness and an organic sense of imagination that emanates from the almost zen-like manner in which the photographs were made.
Alluding to virtual worlds often found in contemporary photography, the Chinese photography artist here has instead chosen to embrace the very core elements of photography (light and film) to create a world of abstract landscapes. When considering the current trends of digital manipulation in contemporary photography, Zheng Nong's "Chemical Landscape" creates the perfect combination for a fantastical reality to both please and deceive the viewer. But by returning to the most fundamental aspects of photography - the "chemical" reaction of light directly striking film - Zheng Nong's series of landscapes involve no digital manipulation and appear more to be an alchemic explosion resulting in a world of virtual, abstract landscapes. Like the photographs themselves, Zheng Nong's work is a further exploration of new frontiers in contemporary photography, merging tradition with innovation and experimentation. "Chemical Landscape" is the fruit of an artist's exploration and discovery, and is a testament to the endless imagination and pursuit of possibility for the contemporary photographer. These photographs also represent an ideal, imaginary world and opportunity for escape the artist has conceived where colorful sunsets and unadulterated terrains lie in stark contrast to the dust-laden, urban Beijing skyline of his surroundings.
Zheng Nong's photographs allow the viewer to enjoy and explore these fantastical landscapes that forever lie just beyond the horizon. By looking beyond the images made with lens and viewfinder, Zheng Nong has presented us with a unique vision, bringing a power and sense of fresh possibility and surprise to the potential of a photograph. With a striking resemblance to abstract painting, the artist shares a similar approach and intent as other historical, experimental processes that photographers have used for over a century to create "camera-less" photographs. As photography artists forever continue to look to new frontiers and technologies to innovate and expand the creative scope of their works, the inherent purity and lack of manipulation in Zheng Nong's chemical landscapes gives these photographs an even deeper sense of authenticity and intrigue.