ZHANG KECHUN

20 APRIL - 21 MAY 2016

Beetles+Huxley are pleased to announce the first UK solo exhibition of award-winning Chinese photographer, Zhang Kechun.

Born in 1980 in Sichuan, China, Zhang produces epic vistas that dwell on the significance of the landscape in modern Chinese national identity. Zhang's first series The Yellow River documents the effects of modernisation along the third longest river in Asia. He found inspiration for the series in Chengzhi Zhang's novel River of the North. The project took him on a journey along the river from the coastal flats of Shandong to the mountains of Qinghai on a fold-up bicycle, all the time carrying with him a large format Linhof camera.

The Yellow River is considered the cradle of Chinese civilisation but also to be a threat, capable of breaking its banks at any time. The areas surrounding it have been devastated by flooding in recent years and Zhang's photographs capture the emotional impact of this on the local population with an eerily quiet atmosphere. The river constantly dwarfs the people who rely on it, rendering them vulnerable to its might.

"I wanted to photograph the river respectfully", Zhang has said, "it represents the root of the nation". Whilst the project was not initially intended to confront environmental issues, Zhang found that ecological matters became unavoidable and the series hums with melancholy for the lost landscape. "I started off wanting to photograph my ideal of the river, but I kept running into pollution," he has said, "I realised that I couldn't run away from it, and that I didn't need to run away from it."

Zhang's second series, Between the Mountains and the Water, continued to explore the relationship between the people and land on which they live and work. Charming scenes include a poster of Chairman Mao attached to a rubber ring floating on a river, surrounded by a group of swimmers, and a gathering of people taking tea in amongst concrete ruins on the riverside.

Gallery director, Giles Huxley-Parlour says: "Zhang Kechun is one of a growing number of exciting Chinese photographers making their names known in Europe and the United States. His sublime views of the industrial wastelands consuming rural China are invested with both political and sociological pertinence. Whilst Zhang imbues the altered landscape of China with a tragic beauty, his photographs also are often witty, showing the frequently absurd scenarios in which the inhabitants of the river's surroundings find themselves."

Zhang has been exhibited at Photoquai, Paris; the Beijing Photo Biennale and the Delhi Photo Festival, India. He won the Discovery Award at Les Rencontres d'Arles for The Yellow River in 2014.

AN OVERTURNED CEMENT TRUCK, QINGHAI, 2011 by ZHANG KECHUN (Born 1980) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

AN OVERTURNED CEMENT TRUCK, QINGHAI, 2011

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MEN CLIMBING A BILLBOARD, QINGHAI, 2011 by ZHANG KECHUN (Born 1980) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

MEN CLIMBING A BILLBOARD, QINGHAI, 2011

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WORKERS BUILDING BRIDGE PIERS FOR A HIGH-SPEED RAILWAY, SHAANXI, 2011 by ZHANG KECHUN (Born 1980) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

WORKERS BUILDING BRIDGE PIERS FOR A HIGH-SPEED RAILWAY, SHAANXI, 2011

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A ROCKERY IN THE MIDDLE OF A DRY LAKE, SHANDONG, 2011 by ZHANG KECHUN (Born 1980) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

A ROCKERY IN THE MIDDLE OF A DRY LAKE, SHANDONG, 2011

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STONE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RIVER, 2013 by ZHANG KECHUN (Born 1980) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

STONE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RIVER, 2013

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LAKE IN THE DESERT, 2014 by ZHANG KECHUN (Born 1980) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

LAKE IN THE DESERT, 2014

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TWO MEN PAINTING A HOUSE IN THE RIVER, GANSU, 2011 by ZHANG KECHUN (Born 1980) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

TWO MEN PAINTING A HOUSE IN THE RIVER, GANSU, 2011

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PEOPLE FISHING BY THE RIVER, SHAANXI, 2012 by ZHANG KECHUN (Born 1980) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

PEOPLE FISHING BY THE RIVER, SHAANXI, 2012

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PEOPLE DOING MORNING EXERCISE UNDER A DRAGON LAMP, GANSU, 2011 by ZHANG KECHUN (Born 1980) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

PEOPLE DOING MORNING EXERCISE UNDER A DRAGON LAMP, GANSU, 2011

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SCULPTURES IN THE COUNTRY, INNER MONGOLIA, 2011 by ZHANG KECHUN (Born 1980) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

SCULPTURES IN THE COUNTRY, INNER MONGOLIA, 2011

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PEOPLE CROSSING THE YELLOW RIVER WITH A PHOTO OF MAO ZEDONG, HENAN, 2012 by ZHANG KECHUN (Born 1980) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

PEOPLE CROSSING THE YELLOW RIVER WITH A PHOTO OF MAO ZEDONG, HENAN, 2012

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PEOPLE DRINK TEA BY THE RIVER, 2013 by ZHANG KECHUN (Born 1980) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

PEOPLE DRINK TEA BY THE RIVER, 2013

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A BUDDHA HEAD IN THE MOUNTAIN, 2015 by ZHANG KECHUN (Born 1980) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

A BUDDHA HEAD IN THE MOUNTAIN, 2015

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WHITE DEER UNDER A COOLING TOWER, INNER MONGOLIA, 2010 by ZHANG KECHUN (Born 1980) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

WHITE DEER UNDER A COOLING TOWER, INNER MONGOLIA, 2010

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A MAN STANDING ON AN ISLAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RIVER SHAANXI, CHINA, 2012 by ZHANG KECHUN (Born 1980) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

A MAN STANDING ON AN ISLAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RIVER SHAANXI, CHINA, 2012

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A FAMILY SPENDING THE WEEKEND UNDER A BRIDGE, SHANDONG, CHINA, 2011 by ZHANG KECHUN (Born 1980) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

A FAMILY SPENDING THE WEEKEND UNDER A BRIDGE, SHANDONG, CHINA, 2011

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