The quiet loveliness of Li Hui
Soft, still and silent… these photographs are so pretty they almost break my heart. That happens to me sometimes- I’ll see or read or hear something that’s just so divine and delightful and surprisingly… perfect that I just don’t know what to do with myself. Li Hui’s enchanting, evocative images stir up just that feeling in me.
A self-taught photographer who only really started ‘seriously’ concentrating on her art two years ago, Hui celebrates the quiet, melancholy and beautiful in the world. Focusing on natural effects, she brings the viewer into a sleepy, nostalgic reverie. Her signature soft-focus and nostalgic use of light and colour bring a youthful tenderness to her images. After all, she says she creates her playful, daydream-like images of faraway lands by ‘keeping a childish heart.’
Sometimes there are people in her images: herself, and others. But these are portraits without faces: the face of the subject is always somehow blurred or hidden, rendering the figure ethereal, unreachable. There is a lingering sense of loneliness in her work, but Hui suggests that the spectral, anonymous quality of her portraits might allow the viewer a certain affinity. ‘The people in my pictures are not supposed to be unknown faces, but the viewer him- or herself,’ she says. Seeing these solitary figures, we are invited to inhabit the image and experience this daydream world ourselves.
The averted gaze might also reflect Hui’s own shyness, a quality she admits to openly. She says she is afraid of people and crowds, and she finds it difficult to communicate with others. The tentative way she approaches the human subject hints at a different way of seeing. ‘I think shy people take pictures in a different way,’ she says. ‘It’s hard for me to focus on someone’s face.’ And yet, she captures something very real and unique.
Hui says that through her photographs, she hopes to show people what her own world looks like. Well, if her world really looks like this enchanted, faraway land, I certainly wouldn’t mind living there…