Mian Xiang: The Art of Traditional Chinese Face-Reading
Face-reading or physiognomy is the art of reading the mind’s construction in the face and body. It is known to the Chinese as Xiang, the character for which consists of the pictures of a tree and an eye. The Shuowen Jiezi, a character dictionary from the Han dynasty, defines it as ‘eye meets thing’ or ‘to inspect’. (Kohn, 1996). In Mian Xiang, I am interested in this physiognomic inspection or reading of the face and the profound relationship of humanity’s inquiry into the metaphysical dimensions of life.
Using the concept of the 100 Year Map in Chinese traditional practice of face-reading as a vehicle and narration tool, this project investigates into a person’s life based on evidences from old photographs, documents and belongings. I invite you to read beyond these 8 portraits, into each individual’s memories, to learn and experience their unique stories and journeys.
About the Artist
Hu Qiren (Singapore, b.1983) is a Photography and Digital Imaging graduate from the School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University of Singapore. Being a contemporary artist who works primarily with the photographic medium, he views his works as a form of communication on recurring themes of culture and tradition. Qiren first gained recognition when he was awarded merit for the inaugural Singapore Young Photographer Award 2008, Architecture Category, organised by City Development Limited, which was exhibited at the National Museum of Singapore and was awarded 1st Prize for Project Shutter 2010 Photography Competition, organised by the United Nations Association of Singapore. More recently, Qiren has started on a long-term project using the traditional practice of Chinese face-reading as a narration tool to explore the relationship between humanity’s inquiry into the metaphysical dimensions of life and its artistic manifestation.