In this series Love Letters, photographer Jiang Zhi writes passionate and dramatic visual stories of love that are reminiscent of a bygone era. Using alcohol as a flaming agent, Zhi sets various types of flowers and blossoms on fire and photographs them as they burn. He captures the moments of life that emerge both from the flowers as well as the lively flames of the fire.
Each photograph narrows in on just one type of flower, a single stem, or sometimes an entire tree trunk. He chooses the beauty of flowers like white orchids, red lilies, and bright yellow sunflowers, and places them against a very simple background. As the flames ignite and flicker around each bud, Zhi photographs the process.
Though eventually the flowers will be consumed by the force of the flames and turned to ashes, Zhi considers the process to be not destructive but, rather, a kind of transformation of beauty. He documents the fire as it dances along the lively petals of each flower, and the two exist together as one unit for just a brief moment. Zhi says, “Beautiful things and objects themselves will ultimately disappear, but the beauty itself will live on, as well as love. Perhaps this is what I am trying to express.”
Zhi’s solo exhibit of these colorful Love Letters can be seen at M97 Gallery in Shanghai, China, from now through July 8, 2012.