Zhiguo Li

Zhiguo Li was born in 1959 from a family of photographers in Changchun (China). Li began to teach himself photography while he was in middle school, and he has been taking photographs since the 1980s. His work might best be called surreal expressionism; there is surrealist undertone to all of his portraits, streetscapes, landscapes, still-life, and conceptual work. He currently lives and works in Changchun (China).

‘In my Rebirth series, I use a 20×24 camera that I designed myself and I expose the negatives multiple times. In my creative process, I must carefully set the composition of the work and the placement of the frame, then I calculate the exposure ratios, tonal relationships, and precise exposure times for the layering of the different exposures. Each work contains a certain number of exposures, as few as 3-5 and as many as 30-50. Any mistake in just one of these exposures or any slight movement in the object is deadly, because one mistake renders the negative useless. I want to create a perfect work, but I must be scientific, conscientious, rigorous, and patient in order to obtain the ideal effect.

The multiple exposure technique and the large-format camera produce pictures with an exquisite texture that express ideas residing in the depths of my surreal imagination. In terms of the content, logic, and even artistic value of the work, I take a philosophical perspective in exploring the value of strength and weakness. Within this uniquely detailed image-making method, I promote the special vitality of this ancient technique and awaken the most primal humanity and empathy’. (Zhiguo Li)