The Wu Opera Behind the Stage


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Chinese photographer Yu Hua (b.1963) introduces us to actors of the Wu Opera, which plays an important part of the rural residents’ life in the Jinhua area. Wu Opera is a hybrid of six singing styles from different traditional genres in China. This mixture reveals the magic of ancient tales executed by performers in extravagant folklore costumes and traditional make-up. For Hua, art is something superior to life. “Art can peel off the appearances of things,” he says. “It extracts the true meaning of hidden realities and can give people a kind of beautiful enjoyment.”

Especially this final point is something that Hua proves throughout his series, as The Wu Opera Behind the Stage is a feast for the eye. We see mythical figures in front of white backdrops in the most amazing environments: rural villages, picturesque courtyards and stylized oriental gardens. The scenes look straight out of a fairy tale, with the exception that the photographer’s setting is left in full view, as if the white frames cover a temporary escape from reality. We are thus allowed a view not only of the theatrical fantasy, but also his participation in the creation of it. The series show the multiplicity of the region’s cultural heritage in a beautiful and intriguing way.

Yu Huas work was included in the Lishui International Photography Festival 2017 in a group exhibition of local photography.


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