¡¶THE NIKKEI WEEKLY¡·£¨Scaling new artistic heights£©

July   3, 2000

Scaling new artistic
Chinese photographer finds his muse in Huangshan Mountains

Many who see tube works of Wang Wusheng are struck by the Chinese Photographer¡¯s unique Style. His black and white images of cloud draped mountains are a powerful blend of dynamism, Sti11ness and tranquility.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography is now holding an exhibition of Wang¡¯s photos,taken in the Huangshan Mountains, a popular Chinese tourist destination west of Shanghai.Titled ¡°Himmelsberge,¡± Which means ¡°heavenly mountains¡± in German,the exhibition has proven
so popular that it has been extended by one month to July 18.

Wang says his decision to leave his successful career in China in 1981 to live in Japan proved to be the right choice.He says he has picked up Japanese traits without being aware of it£®

The artist spoke with The Nikkei Weekly about his career and his experiences in Japan£®

Q£ºHow and when did you start taking pictures?

A£ºAlthough I studied physics at university, I always dreamed of being an artist. So I started to work for a newspaper as a photographer. However,over the course of time I realized that I didn¡¯t want to make documentaries but artistic pictures.But becoming an artist wasn¡¯t easy because I had no motif to focus on.An artist is an artist because he has his own theme£®

A chance visit to the HuangShan Mountains in Anhui Province to make a documentary ended up totally changing my life. I was struck by the nature there and was seized by an indescribable feeling. l felt the ultimate scale of space. It was a kind of feeling that someone cannot experience from books or learn like mathematical equations. I alone stood above a field of clouds, realizing how small I was compared to the hugeness of the nature£®
It was then that I finally discovered my motif, which was to take pictures of mountains£®

Q£ºWhat made you come to Japan?

A£ºAfter six years of taking pictures at Huangshan, I realized that my life as a salaried worker and an artist didn¡¯t mix too well. On top of that, my monthly income was so modest that I could buy only two rolls or film per month. I knew it was time to become a freelance photographer, but there were no precedents for doing so in China£®

There were two possible solutions to my problem: go to the U. S. or go to Japan. I choose the latter because I was interested in how the Japanese absorbed Western culture£®I was already well-known as a photographer when I made up my mind to leave China£®

People around me couldn¡¯t believe it when I told them of my plan to break with my successful career. They all said I was crazy. That was in 1981. Before coming to Japan, I had associated with many big personalities. But in Japan, I was just a poor Chinese dish washer, looked down upon by my Japanese coworkers. My only consolation was my strong will to succeed. However, even that was tested when I fell ill£®

The psychological damage was bigger than the physical damage. Before my illness, I thought I could do anything as long as I was determined. Although I was sick£¬I couldn¡¯t afford to stop working. Finally I had to stay in bed. Fortunately, I was rescued from poverty when the Japan Foundation decided to subsidize me. I received about £¤380£¬000 each month. I invested all the money to buy a new Camera, lenses and film£®
Though I wasn¡¯t perfectly well, I traveled to HuangShan. My dismay disappeared when I got there£®

Q£ºWhat did you get out of Japan?

A: I've learned a lot of things in this country. Compared with the Chinese culture, the Japanese one is so delicate. A virile man is more attractive when we catch a glimpse of femininity in him. This holds true for cultures. The Chinese culture is very dynamic but sometimes rough. If we add a drop of Japanese delicacy to it, it becomes better. I think I have learned this delicacy by living in Japan.
Of course, I was able to learn all these things because I experienced them firsthand. Before, my perception of Japan was only fishing reels and pop-music idols.

Q: Tell me your impression of your current exhibition?

A: Take a look at these notebooks filled with remarks written by visitors. We've already filled 10 of them. According to the authorities, my style is outside the normal limits. They say I totally neglect the principles of photography.
The common way to portray something in black and white is to use a watery gray scale, not dark black as I do. But I need this dark color to express what I have in my mind. Visitors, especially young people, appreciate my style because they don't have biases or prejudices.

NAME: Wang Wusheng
AGE: 54
OCCUPATION: Photographer
EDUCATION: Graduated from faculty of physics at Anhui Normal University
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Recruited as photographer for Anhui Newsphoto and Pictorial in 1973; started taking pictures of Huangshan Mountains in 1974; came to Japan in 1981; became Japan Foundation fellow in 1983; currently holding exhibition at Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography