In the recent years, since his return from studies at the Fachhochschule Dortmund in Germany, Shi Guowei has evolved a singular, and compelling, style of visual expression. This resides in a subtle, and deft, combination of photography and painting. Specifically, between black and white photographs that he makes in conventional fashion by observing scenes and documenting his observations, and an approach to hand-colouring the photographs that unfolds over an extended period of time. This process requires steadfast coordination of eye and hand, first through the camera lens and then via the highly controlled daubing of a brush. And, similar to the successful deployment of many artistic forms through history, the combination of materials and execution together expresses much more than might be assumed from a pragmatic description, or the label "hand-coloured photo".
Outwardly, superficially, thesubject of Shi Guowei’s recent endeavour, as evidenced in the group of new works presented in "A Walk in the Woods", is landscape, or rather nature, used in a generic or slightly abstract form that eschews the particular. Within the context of Shi Guowei’s immediate cultural framework, this content and approach to using it may not be surprising, since, in terms of the traditional arts, of ink and literati painting, landscape is almost always esoteric, a resource deployed to conjure a spiritual state via means of a metaphoric, rather than a purely descriptive, lexicon of motifs.Similarly, Shi Guowei is less concerned with depicting a physical resemblance of nature, than with finding means to illuminate an inner world of experiences and abstract emotions. This, he does, with a quiet, subtle skill. So much so that, courtesy of his masterful combination of straight documentary photography with a lengthy manual process of colouring, his "photo-paintings" are imbued with a metaphysical force, and an aura of the sublime.