Shan Shui


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Shan Shui, which literally translates to mountain-water, refers to a style of traditional Chinese brush and ink paintings that depict natural landscapes. In their project Shan Shui, Sébastien Tixier and Raphael Bourelly refer to this tradition by illustrating its present day conflict: while the paintings of old paid homage to the grand mountains and its flowing rivers, the artists’ contemporary photographs show signs of pollution and damage, as the landscapes are modified in the name of modernity and economic development.

We see masses of concrete, glass and cranes rise in the midst of a natural world that is being shaped, stripped and laid barren. The images show the on-going dialogue between mankind and its surroundings, sometimes a whisper and sometimes a shout. Like the paintings that inspired them, Tixier and Bourelly generate an appreciation for the rivers and landscapes that they photograph, though the result is far more wistful.