b. 1962, Changchun, Jilin
After graduating from the Jilin Institute of Art in Changchun in 1984, Hai Bo moved to Beijing to advance his studies in the Printmaking Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (1984–9). Despite an initial career as a painter influenced by German expressionism, Hai Bo’s interest in photography sprouted during his academy training as a result of a combined fascination with the power of time and visual memory that dated back to his early childhood during the Cultural Revolution. Based on a practical recollection of the past, Hai Bo’s work fills in time gaps by juxtaposing old b/w portraits of relatives and friends with colour mirror images of the same taken in the present. In these works the confrontation of subjects and postures does not just stimulate chronological comparison, but captures the space separating past and present by indexing the issue of change. Representative of his painstaking research method is the series They, begun in 1997 and presented at the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001, as well as I’m Chairman Mao’s Red Guard (1999) and Three Sisters (1999).
In 2000 he participated in the 3rd Shanghai Biennale and was awarded a prize in the second edition of the CCAA (Chinese Contemporary Art Awards). A new structural geometry appears in Dusk (1993–2002), consisting of three triptychs in which the artist combines intimate, b/w photo portraits of his grandmother (taken in 1993), his father (1998) and his son (2000) all within the image of a landscape familiar to his subjects.
Here the correspondence with the past is embedded in the physical outline of a place connected to the history of the three people. Featured in the 1st Pingyao Photography Festival (2001), Hai Bo’s work was also presented at ‘Rencontres des Arles’ (France, 2003).
Exhibition catalogue (2001). dApertutto Aperto Over All Venezia: La Biennale di Venezia/Marsilio.
——(2003). Photography Arles-Recontres Des Arles (exhibition catalogue). Paris: Actes Sud, Le Mejan, 72–5.
Leanza, Beatrice (2003). ‘Il cerchio invisibile: A caccia del Tempo e dell’ Infinito—Fotografia di Hai Bo’ (The Invisible Circle: Hunting Time and Infinity—Photographs by Hai Bo). In GuangYIN/Tempi di Donne (exhibition catalogue). Viterbo, Italy.
Smith, Karen (ed.) (2000). Dangdai Zhongguo yishu jiangjin (Contemporary Chinese Art Awards exhibition catalogue), 23–4.