Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao’s photographs of Central Park highlight subtle changes in the seasons over the course of a year. On view in “Central Park New York: 24 Solar Terms,” a solo show at Foley Gallery in New York City opening today and running until October 15, each image corresponds to a term from the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, in which certain positions of the sun correspond with natural and astrological phenomena, such as the beginning of spring. The terms, which once prescribed timetables for agriculture and everyday life, are based on the angle of the sun. In Liao’s photographs, the solar terms are sometimes at odds with activities in the park. “Grain Rain,” which occurs around April 20, describes a time when increased rainfall supports crops. In Liao’s image, the towers of The Eldorado are reflected in the nearly still Pond and framed by newly leafed trees. Others terms describe eternal phenomena that do happen in the park. “Waking of Insects” takes place around March 5. In Liao’s image for that term, a haze of pollen from blooming trees coats a swirling body of sparkling water. In “Beginning of Winter,” ice covers The Pond while the low sun flares in the sky.
In a statement, Liao describes choosing the vertical format of the images in part to reference traditional Chinese landscape painting. The shape allows for equal emphasis on foreground and sky, and transforms thoroughly-photographed Central Park into a place that is occasionally unfamiliar and disorienting. As a whole, Liao writes, the project aims to “to document the micro changes that happen in this phenomenal ‘man-made nature.'”
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