Here There Are Men: Patrick Wack’s Portraits of China
Among the extremes of China there are wide fields of farmland, treacherous mountains, stark plains, thrown-together cities and cutting-edge cosmopolises. And there are men.
Patrick Wack’s series Here There Are Men features portraits from various locations in China (Chongqing, Inner Mongolia, Tibet, Yunnan and Shanghai). His portraits of everyday men and women in the midst of their daily lives and typical surroundings go beyond the strictly documentary to elevate the subjects into representatives of mankind. Roadside in a steaming concrete menagerie or in a stream nestled between mountains of lush greenery, Wack juxtaposes personae against the changing cultural and environmental landscapes of China, finding beauty in faces, sceneries and light.
With a calm optimism, these portraits of Chinese people capture the commonalities of the human spirit through differences in age, gender, class and location. Resonating with the collective unconscious, Wack’s photographs present subjects as fellow humans rather than individuals from distant lands, as neighbors rather than strangers. A combination of natural and artificial lighting adds a unique sheen to the reportage, and though his work is anchored in reality – real people, real situations – his style incorporates narrative elements, composing the human figure against its environment to recount everyday livelihoods while leaving individual identities a mystery. Capturing and elevating the overlooked, Wack’s style of photography reinvents a sense of truth about the human portrait and the humanity it represents.
Here There Are Men: Patrick Wack’s Portraits of China bridges the distances between the people of China, tapping into the idea of the collective unconscious through Wack’s photographic representations of the heroism of the everyday figure. His images are poised and serene, exuding a sense of Chinese-idealized harmony and equality among mankind. Here there is a fiction borne from reality. Here there are men.
By Bonny Yau / Art+ Gallery