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The California-based photographer sublimates the forms of architecture and urban spaces in a striking interplay of contrast, colour, light and shadow.

Abstract architecture is at the very heart of the concept of sublimating urban spaces. Gigi Chung’s singular style is a blend of culture and architecture, art and design, observation and inventiveness. The photographer lived in Hong Kong and Tokyo before settling in the San Francisco area of California. Her passion for the abstraction of the built environment comes from her family. “My father taught architecture. Surveying buildings and observing facades were part of my growing up process. I’m strongly influenced by Piet Mondrian and Mark Roktho, my father’s favourite artists,” explains this Hasselblad ambassador. The identity of places and the diversity of architectural styles inspire and encourage her to create bold compositions from every possible angle.


Her visual representations fragment these giant structures, transforming them into veritable sculptures. Gigi Chung accentuates the forms of the design, creating asymmetries and repetitions, playing with geometry, relief and reflective surfaces. Just as she probes light, exalting shadows, lines and curves. Her assemblage of elements from different creative fields also contributes to this singular aesthetic, giving her shots a dynamic rhythm. Like her “Tokyo Hustle” series, in which she captures Tokyoites in action, exuding the vibrancy and effervescence of the city. The incredible image, “Floating world”, is almost science-fictional in its juxtaposition, while that of the umbrellas coordinates perfectly with a choreography of the steps of onlookers. With “California Fantasy”, Gigi Chung brings in colour, reinterpreting vibrant shades of orange, ochre, green and purple under the soothing Golden State sun.


Her work in lighting is thus at the forefront of all the emotions it arouses. Monochrome architectural forms sublimate function to the extreme, becoming elements of imperceptible movement. There’s nothing surprising about that either. The virtuoso says she draws her ideas from dance and music. For her, “All art forms are interconnected and these disciplines evoke images that come to life”. Take her “Achromatica” series, for example. “Abstraction begins in reality,” says the photographer, “The images show the texture of the building, distilling the scene to eliminate distractions. The use of negative space helps to create a resting place for the eye.” Her travels and different cultures feed her portfolio. Just like the talent and works of the architects (Luis Barragan, Richard Meier, Frank Gehry) and photographers (Henri Cartier-Bresson, Fan Ho, Annie Leibovitz) from whom she draws inspiration. Always with a camera in hand, Gigi Chung keeps her pace brisk and her eyes sharp, capturing spatial transitions and letting her imagination run wild.

États-Unis – San Francisco

Nathalie Dassa