CHINESE traditionally have compared women with flowers, ideally beautiful and fragile as they bud, bloom and wither.
Renowned female photographer Wang Xiaohui takes flowers as her subjects in an exhibition that also include light installations, sculpture and glassware. Wang is also a filmmaker and architect.
Her exhibition at the Zendai Himalayas Center runs through October 7.
She held her first solo exhibition at the Shanghai Art Museum nine yeas ago, when her theme was flowers. "As if by destiny, I am back with flowers again," she says.
Born in Tianjin Municipality in 1957, she went through the chaotic "cultural revolution" (1966-76) when all universities were closed. When they reopened in 1977 Wang scored well on the national entrance examination and enrolled in Shanghai Tongji University at the age of 20. There she met architecture professor Yu Lin, whom she calls her "once in a life-time soul mate."
Everything was on track for a successful life in Europe after their overseas study, but in 1991 Yu was killed and Wang badly injured in a road accident as they were driving to Wang's solo exhibition in the Czech Republic.
"It was a holiday," she recalls. "We were so happy because I'd just quit my job teaching architecture at university to fully devote myself to photography. We were driving and listening to 'Aida'."
For years she was devastated by the loss, her "blossoming" period seemingly over. She poured all her love into flowers, capturing them with her camera and sculpting them with her hands.
"Even today I see him as a perfect man," she says. "His good looks, talents, honesty and caring nature were unparalleled. I am grateful I could spend the best time of my life with him."
She sees flowers as a metaphor for her happiest days.
"True, they are fragile. That's the reason I want to make them permanent in my work, remembering their most beautiful moment."