The Yellow River shows us a lonely man on an island in the middle of a telephone conversation. He is a boatman, in charge of transporting groups of tourists on his rubber dinghy. In this strange scenario, the only human being appears microscopic in front of a stretch of water as far as the eye can see, perhaps an allusion to the disproportionate power of this precious resource.
Born in 1980 in Bazhong, China
Inspired by Zhang Chengzhi’s legendary novel River of the North, Zhang Kechun travelled along the Yellow River (Huang He), the second longest river in China, also considered the “cradle of Chinese civilisation”.
For more than a year, the artist photographed the banks of the river at the camera while travelling on his folding bicycle. Determined to represent the landscape as he perceived it, Zhang Kechun captured the dark side of his country’s modernisation: devastating floods, pollution and radical changes in the rural environment.
Yet despite illustrating the ravages of this unbridled race to industrialization, Zhang Kechun’s photographs seem to carry a message of hope. Their pastel colours and ethereal light reflect a dreamy, gentle river landscape.