Postman by Maleonn
Maleonn, 2008. Postman [photograph] (London, SOAS Library). Photograph by David Pearson.
You have probably seen these photographs in the Library (Level E). They were from the exhibition Chinascape: Contemporary Chinese Photography held at the Wolfson Gallery in the library in 12th April – 8th June 2012. The exhibition presented photographs of a number of high-profile independent artists in China, and provided a rare opportunity to get a glimpse of trends in contemporary Chinese visual art. For anyone who wants to know more about these artworks, Contemporary Chinese Photography (FFX.L /754905) in the Art Collection would be a good book to start with.
After the exhibition, 4 pieces of the Postman (邮差) series by Maleonn were donated to SOAS library by China Youth Press International. Maleonn, also known as Ma Liang (马良), is a talented photographer from Shanghai who gained his fame because of his fable-like, surreal and melancholic photographs. He blends new style with a look and feel of old photographic images. The photographs in the library are Postman No.1, 2, 3 and 4, produced in 2008. If you want to understand more about the photographs, I highly recommend an article on the Camera Obscura blog.
This lovely article, written by the artist about reminiscences and dreams from his childhood explains how he unexpectedly encountered these memories and created this Postman series. He also introduces a story of French postman who built a castle and how he was inspired by the fairy tale of the French postman whose crazy dream became reality. After reading the article you are better able to appreciate the artist’s vision, memory and belief.
Maleonn’s childhood dream has achieved its own reality. He became an artist, one of up-and-coming names in the contemporary Chinese art scene. In addition to that, however, I also think he has fulfilled his second dream: In this highly wired society, I still long for a postman like Maleonn’s who delivers amazing but fragile memories back to present where we live. You see, I am convinced…Postmen are cool.