Qiu Yang is a Chinese photographer who lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In 2007, shortly after obtaining his BFA from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, Yang established his eponymous studio and began working in commercial and selfinitiated projects. His images have been featured in art and fashion magazines, advertising campaigns, art exhibitions and film. His editorial and commercial commissions include AnOther Man Magazine, Christian Dior, Kenzo, COS Magazine, The Gentlewoman, Volkswagen, Liberty London, Nowness.com, Vogue China and Wallpaper Magazine, to name a few. ! A trait that prevails in Qiu Yang’s work is the manner in which he encounters and deals with the visual language of commercial photography. His images appear to rather challenge the common and recognisable vocabulary of commercial photography than adapting it. By playing with hints of seemingly unrelated narratives and by applying a surface to the image that is much more personal than commercial he moves comfortably between the zones of applied and autonomous work. ! His mutual interest in body and abstraction finds manifestation in all of his works. In a series of images for example that contains only ice and perfume bottles, the body is peculiarly present in the semi-organic shapes of the ice that holds the bottles. As part of that Yang’s images often evoke sexually charged tension, that he counters with unsettling gestures, such as the play with perspective, the appearance of either foreign or highly recognisable props, a framing that occasionally leaves major elements out of the scene. These gestures then invite the eye to start reading the image. At first they seem to break the sexual tension before they demand a more precise observation of each singular element that constitutes the image. The image becomes a map for the eye. One fragment leads to the next and soon the image that was read as a frame of a narrative film turns into a precise arrangement of abstract elements. The hip of a woman becomes a simple curve, a bowling ball turns into a black circle and a polished fingernail remains a coloured highlight in the centre of the image. Guided by these elements the eye enters deeper into the image before it falls back out again. Here one finds oneself uncertain about where the sexual tension was created. The fragments and elements in the image have transformed into abstraction and give no lead on where eroticism is situated. In fact, none of the elements Yang uses in his images seem to contain a direct link to eroticism – a remote control, a piece of paper, even the skin tones and -surfaces he creates through light could not be more innocent. With their powdery and subtle texture they even appear to adapt to non-human surfaces such as silks or plastics. The elements Yang uses in his images and the surface he gives them are so minutely balanced, that it is only their interaction, that creates an erotic presence or a sexual tension,- but it remains impossible to associate the elements itself with the tension they evoke. ! Yang’s desire to not only counterbalance body and abstraction, but to combine them in a new and peaceful manner, results in images that challenge our expectations of form and surface and offer a different angle of perspective on what is commonly known as commercial photography.
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