Fu Meng: Between

The open ended question of Between

What would happen when contemporary ink painters stop using brushes, theater practitioners abandon verbal language, or photographers put down the camera? Fu Meng’s solo exhibition Between at IDO Art Gallery offers the viewer a fresh dimension to rethink and redefine photography in today’s social and cultural narratives.

From left to right: Artists, Fu Meng, art advisor Yan Zhou, Professor Matthew Brower of University of Toronto, Yam Lau and Vanessa Fleet at the Panel Discussion on May 9, 2015. Photo: Daisy Li Meng

Fu Meng used to work as a professional photographer for renowned newspapers and magazines in mainland China. During that time he had documented many important political and cultural events, and earned several national photography awards. Gradually his interests in photo journalism faded and “It was the time for a change,” as the artist said. Fu Meng moved to Toronto in 2006 and became a graphic designer and also made photographs of different products for advertisements. Just recently, after the opening of his own gallery in 2013, he started to reconsider the values of documentary photography. Between is a product of that interest.

Fu Meng, Adam (348 Men Faces), Digital Print, 100 x 120 cm. Courtesy of the artist

We tend to connect photography with cameras in a natural and take-for-granted manner. The responsibility of the photographer is to capture reality through the lens. However, after the emergence of digital photography, both digital cameras and scanners can be used in capturing moments of everyday life. Fu Meng is infatuated by the latter. He utilizes the scanner as a tool to express his perceptions on space, time and people.

Fu Meng, Subway Top – 60 Seconds, Digital Print, 234 x 54 cm (top); Subway – 20 Seconds, Digital Print, 300 x 70 cm (bottom). Courtesy of the artist

None of the pieces in Between were produced through a traditional photographic process. Fu Meng used scanning, extracting and other digital technologies in creating these photographs. Traditional photographic practices depict a single moment. Moving away from them Fu Meng aims to extends that single moment in order to capture the feeling of constant movement. This method also enables him to add some abstract and surreal elements to the otherwise realistic images. With the help of these digital technologies, spontaneous movements were organized into orderly compositions, such as “Shopping Mall – 60 Seconds” and “High Way – 120 Seconds”. The passing of time is visually captured, and the interaction between space and time is interpreted in quite a post-modern and experimental way.

Fu Meng, Shopping Mall – 60 Seconds (left); High Way – 120 Seconds (right), each Digital Print, 234 x 75 cm. Courtesy of the artistFu Meng, Airport – 90 seconds, Digital Print, 234 x 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist

Melancholy and solitude is deeply rooted in these experimental works. The artist’s emotions and thoughts are reflected upon enclosed places, faceless figures, and the mechanical movements of people. The frequent use of cold colors can also be viewed as a sign of loneliness, alienation and monotony. As Fu Meng himself said at the opening of Between, he, as a professional photographer as well as an observer of city life, has paid close attention to the urban space of Toronto and its people. “What lies between us” is the core question of Fu Meng’s solo exhibition but he has no intention to provide an answer.

Daisy Li Meng

*Exhibition Information: May 1 –  July 18, 2015, IDO Art Gallery, 1-20 Wertheim Court, Richmond Hill. Gallery hours: Mon – Sat, 10 am – 4 pm.

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