pigment inkjet print
decaptych, framed 326 x 495 cm
When Guo Jian returned to China in 2005 he began to explore new technical and conceptual possibilities, culminating in a series of photographic works exploring the destruction of the natural environment. The monumental Picturesque Scenery 26 (2011 -2012) consists of ten separately framed panels, and appears from a distance to be a peaceful landscape in muted tones. As you come closer, you realise the work is a mosaic of tiny fragments: one hundred and thirty thousand miniature faces replace each pixel of the original photograph. Each is cut from rubbish that Guo photographed around the bridges, lakes and hillsides of Guizhou. In 2010, while visiting his hometown, a place of famously scenic beauty, Guo Jian was horrified to find the streets littered with refuse and the waterways choked with plastic and debris. He says, ‘After five thousand years of culture, now all you can see is rubbish. We are being buried by rubbish.’ On discarded advertisements, magazines, newspapers, packets, boxes and bags, he noticed the faces of celebrities who also populate Chinese television, entertainment that the artist dismisses as ‘cultural rubbish’. Guo Jian experimented for three years, seeking ways to juxtapose picturesque vistas of the landscape with the detritus of a throw-away consumer culture. With the magic of graphic art software, he was able to ‘hide’ the famous faces in the landscape, a sordid secret hidden within the natural beauty.