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Chinese artist Wang Lei brings record of the faces he met along the Silk Road to Beijing's Yishu 8

Source:Global Times Published:

Walking the Silk Road

A woman takes a picture of Girl of Luristan by Wang Lei Photo: Xu Liuliu/GT

From China's Datong, to Tehran in Iran and on to Tashkent in Uzbekistan… Chinese artist Wang Lei spent the last few years hiking to multiple places along the world-renowned Silk Road, recording the faces that he has seen along the way in his paintings.  

Three years after he made his first trip to Datong, Shanxi Province, the artist has collected the portraits he made on his journey and put them on display at a new exhibition at Beijing's Yishu 8. Opened on Saturday and set to run until June 10, the Faces exhibition is Wang's first showcase in the past few years and comes just in time for the fifth anniversary for China's Belt and Road initiative.

"It was not an inspiration-seeking trip, but an artistic expression that incorporated walking. Walking and painting while walking," the artist explained at the opening of the exhibition.

"At first, I just wanted to reach the border of China," he recalled, explaining that his original goal was to reach Khunjerab Pass on the China-Pakistan border. However, his trip to the border only increased his lust for traveling. 

He later took trips to Iran, an important node on the Silk Road, in 2016 and then Uzbekistan in 2017. In March and April, he visited Turkey. 

"The Silk Roads are roads of the gaze, spaces in which human beings come close, speak to one another and feel their alterity. The wager is to embark on a voyage, to walk towards the other, to look in order to better invent," wrote Yishu 8 founder Christine Cayol in the exhibition's preface. 

"When looking at the different faces, I will find their differences even minor ones, and for the same face, I can observe its different expressions," said Wang, explaining why he chose to focus on portraits. 

"The many faces shown in this exhibition should not be approached as a 'series' of portraits but as the iconic symbols of different worlds that connect and become energized with a new life thanks to the unique quality of the exchanges enabled by a voyage," added Cayol.  

Newspaper headline: Walking the Silk Road


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