China’s rapidly increasing economic growth as well as the lead-up to the Olympics has led to an explosion of construction and development in cities and villages and this urbanisation is reflected in the work of many Chinese artists including the photographer Zhou Jun. Born in 1965 in Nanjing, Zhou Jun graduated from the Department of Photography at the Art School of Nanjing Normal University. Three solo exhibitions have been held of his photographs in Beijing and Shanghai and he has participated in other group exhibitions in China, New York, Hong Kong and Melbourne. The Rossi & Rossi show, comprising some 15 works on sale in editions of ten, will be his first solo exhibition outside China.

Zhou Jun’s work emerges from construction sites and testifies to his ambivalent feelings about the exciting expansion of Chinese cities that inevitably erodes and subverts traditional architecture. Using a Swiss Sinar camera, he has developed his own unique narrative language using black and white images on which certain areas, particularly the scaffolding, are highlighted in red. For example in the Hall of Supreme Harmony construction site in the middle of Beijing’s Forbidden City, the entire surrounding scaffolding is dyed red.

An outstanding image of the architectural masterpiece that will undoubtedly be best remembered from the 2008 Olympics – the national sports stadium known as the Bird’s Nest – emphasises the delicacy of the enormous structure by highlighting in red the network of scaffolding and surrounding railings still in place in 2006.

The colour red is of special significance in China. While it is often used on ceremonial occasions such as weddings and festivals, it also represents radical socialism, revolutionary communist ideology and governmental power as well as, to many people, political bloodshed and social turmoil. The red in Zhou Jun’s photographs therefore not only acts as a visual marker but also allows the viewer to give the images their own interpretation.

Zhou Jun’s arresting and beautiful photographs will surely become important images documenting momentous changes not only in the appearance of Chinese cities but also in the culture of an ancient civilisation.

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