In a trip to China in 2005, 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. It is common to find the locals and their rafts engaged in daily activities along Yu Long river. Russel visited Yangshuo again in the beginning of 2007 and he shot 2 images from this trip which are both featured in this catalogue.
Fisherman on Li Jiang river at dawn, Yangshuo was inspired by this shanshui (literally translated to be 'mountain-water' which refers to a specific genre of traditional landscape painting) 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. "I was up very early in the morning and always looking forward to what magic nature was going to unveil to me!" (Artist's statement, April 2007) The shot was taken with 8 x 10 in. view camera.
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 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.
Li Jiang riverbed, Yangshuo, on the other hand has a feel of a contemporary work as Russel gives such prominence to the rugged riverbed that he cleverly deploys a textured element to the composition that is at once edgy and quirky. Whilst the shanshui looms precariously in the horizon, the protagonists of this composition are the crowding pebbles and stones whose uneven surface sets the perfect stage for the play of light and shadow.