inkjet pigment print
60 x 90 cm
The grim reality of fast-growing Chinese cities is explored in Untitled (2014) – a landscape of shoddy construction, crumbling apartment blocks, and infrastructure that is inadequate to growing populations. Here Guo Jian wields his camera with a painter’s eye.'Untitled 2' depicts a street barber at work. The colour is as rich, and the composition as complex, as a Renaissance painting: on the left, in a litter-strewn street against a background of sagging electrical wires and grey cement walls, two men sit patiently while their hair is cut. In the centre, three small boys examining a toy rifle are illuminated by a shaft of light. A taller boy in the centre of the group, unselfconsciously graceful, holds his noodle bowl and chopsticks whilst gazing enviously at the weapon held by the smallest child. On the right, against a wall covered in scribbled graffiti and a red poster, a little girl in a bright pink sweater gazes straight out of the frame at us. In the very foreground of the work, a partial glimpse of a butcher’s handcart displays lumps of unrefrigerated animal flesh. Guo Jian’s disturbing visions are simultaneously a reflection on loss and memory, a morality tale, and a call to action.