Art of the Mountain: Through the Chinese Photographer’s Lens

An exhibition of contemporary photography is now on display at China Institute Gallery.

Now through December 2, Art of the Mountain: Through the Chinese Photographer’s Lens features the work of more that 20  photographers.
Large images with exquisite detail, tonality and a respect for the great mountain ranges in China grace the new exhibit rooms of the China Institute Gallery on Rector Street.

There are three sections of Art of the Mountain. The first, The Revered Mountains of China explain the geography and legends in the culture associated with the mountains.

The influence of traditional Chinese landscape painting on Wang Wusheng, a 72 year old artist who has spent much of his career photographing Mount Huangshan is examined in the second section Landscape Aesthetics in Photography. The prints fill the frame with high contrast, brilliant whites and deep blacks, that Wang Wusheng says, “expresses a feeling of awe before the spirit of Nature.”

Wang Wusheng, Huangshan A104,
1984 Inkjet print, 24 x 40 inches

He writes, ” This style of mine has been dubbed by some as “Wang Wusheng’s metallic black,” for example, and likened to “silhouettes” that lack tonal gradations. However, such effects are what I wanted in my photographs: the art of “subtraction” which eliminates the multitudes of colors, cuts out the miscellany of details, narrows down the unnecessary range of gradations, and removes the queer looking pines and grotesque rock formations that do not really mean much to the subject. So what is left is an “impression,” one that will impact the viewer’s soul, resonate, and last while allowing room for his or her own imagination. It is an “illusion of life” formed by misty mountains and lively clouds in the yin and yang of black and white”

In the third section, New Landscape Photography, the photographers push the boundaries of traditional photography and use digital techniques to express their thoughts creating surreal landscapes combing imagery from the past with the contemporary landscapes of high rises and industrial artifacts.

The exhibition is curated by Willow Weilan Hai, Director, China Institute Gallery; Jerome Silbergeld, P. Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Professor of Chinese Art History at Princeton University, Emeritus; and photography critic and photographer Jiang Rong.


“Art of the Mountain articulates a vision of Chinese culture and documents its contributions to civilization,” said Willow Weilan Hai, chief curator of the exhibition. “The search for eternal happiness, a happiness of spirit that reflects harmony, where nature heals all, is an essential part of Chinese culture. Chinese artists are employing photography to depict nature – and man’s complicated relationship with it – often derived from Chinese philosophy about the natural world.”


Art of the Mountain: Through the Chinese Photographer’s Lensmarks the first contemporary exhibition to be held at China Institute Gallery’s new downtown location. China Institute moved to their current location in the fall of 2015.

China Institute is located at 40 Rector Street.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *