In a trip to China last year, Russel visited Yangshuo, which is located in the south of picturesque Guilin. The town of Yangshuo lies in a valley plain surrounded by karst peaks with the river of Li Jiang bordering it. Yu Long river is a major tributary of Li Jiang. It is common to find the locals and their rafts engaged in daily activities along Yu Long river.
Bamboo raft on Yu Long river, Yangshuo, China was inspired by this shanshui (literally translated to be 'mountain-water') landscape of the environ. The setting was like a scene from a Chinese ink painting. Russel proceeded to study the area in preparation for an ideal shot, which was composed after managing the sifting conditions of light, finally capturing it in the breaking hours of the morning. The shot was taken using an antique 8 x 10 in. Wisner view camera and Rodenstock 360mm lens.
The photographic media used in creating this work lends a contemporary definition to the traditional shanshui aesthetic. The stylistics of the work is distinct in its being an attractive alternative interpretation, but importantly, it also redefines a respectful relevance for this traditional romantic visual. The black and white treatment of the scene immortalizes the essence of the transitory and simultaneously gifts it with a nostalgic quality of a beautiful moment passed. The peaceful serenity of the scene is illuminated by the shifting shadows of the composition, perfected by the clarity of the details within.
This is the second time a Chinese landscape shot by Russel has been offered in the auction. The first was that of the Bamboo forest taken when he was on assignment to photograph publicity shots for the blockbuster film, House of Flying Daggers by director Zhang Yimou. The photographic print premiered to a highly successful price for a work by the artist.
Bamboo raft on Yu Long river, Yangshuo, China is part of an exclusive series of six images that were developed during the trip, with the present lot being the premier number one from a print edition of twenty-five. This work has yet never been shown outside of this auction.