Friday, May 21, 2010

Today's South China Morning Post, about my ongoing exhibition...

Exhibition's opening was a great success, with over 200 people that came through on May 18th - a great birthday gift! But more about this later, with pictures etc...

Here is an article that just came out today in South China Morning post, before the day is gone...:

Exhibition: An Ethereal World: Journeys to the Edges of Asia - Picture This Gallery, Until Jun 12th 2010

© Yvonne Teh
May 20, 2010

Matthieu Paley has literally come a long way since working in a provincial town in the north of France "where, if you were a photographer, you'd be working on the main street doing portraits for ID cards". He spent some years in Jakarta and New York before moving to Hong Kong in 2002.

Currently based in Shek O, the Frenchman - who celebrated his 37th birthday two days ago, the same day his exhibition at Picture This Gallery opened - has travelled to, and worked in, several parts of Asia, including remote regions such as the Pamir Knot, the name given to a mountainous area where Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and China meet.

An Ethereal World: Journeys to the Edges of Asia, which is part of this year's Le French May, consists of 17 photographs taken in a part of the world Paley first visited in 1999 after a conversation with a Pakistani man in New York.

"I was so ignorant then," Paley recalls, adding he wasn't even aware there were mountains in the country. But after his first visit to the region,  "I got hooked. I have been back there every year ever since."

Paley and his German wife Mareile spent time in a secluded lake village in the Baltistan region of northern Pakistan. "One day we went there and the water was low and my wife was just walking there and I took a picture and that's it, you know? It's a great memory for me when I look at it," the photographer-explorer says of Kachura (picture below).

Another, more famous body of water, Siberia's Lake Baikal, is the setting for other works in the exhibition. The dark blue water in Ice Rider hints at how deep the voluminous freshwater lake is (more than 1,600 metres) and how clear it is. That the ice on the lake is up to 1.5 metres thick and able to support a horse and rider is a sign of how cold and long the winters are. While most people stay away from Siberia in winter, that's when Paley prefers to visit.

"In winter, things slow down and I think that, as a photographer, when things slow down, it gives me more time to see things, to capture them," he says. For another, "I love wintry conditions because it brings [out] something special in people to be able to live in these harsh conditions".

One of them is Marbet, a young Afghan Kyrgyz girl, who thinks nothing of being out in temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius. Paley photographed the red-cheeked girl soon after she came in from the cold, where she had been tending her father's goats. "[Marbet] dropped one of the tiny goats by the fire. And I said, 'Just sit there,' and she sat there, and she looked like this and I took her picture."

Mon-Sat, PictureThis Gallery, 11am-6pm, Suite 1308, 13/F Office Tower, 9 Queen's Road Central. Inquiries: 2525 2820