Witness | Pilar Corrias

China’s home to one in four people, and many of the world’s fastest growing cities. Four different Chinese artists’ responses to the city are currently on show at Pilar Corrias.

Chen Wei, now resident in Beijing, stood out to me. One lovely photo in particular, New Buildings, (2016), a rainy window, dappled with condensation, lit up with multiple colours, suggesting windows and signage in a street behind.

Installation view

This weirdly wistful image is a bit of a trick, though. The exhibition notes reveal that Chen carefully constructs his interiors in his own studio.

Now Buildings is part of Chen’s ongoing ‘New City’ project. In this series of photos, “I hope to highlight the gap between people’s imagination of the city and the reality, and the gap is one of the tragic elements,” the artist told an interviewer, last year.

One thing these imaginary city scenes have in common? There aren’t any people in them. Beijing has around 20 million residents, and is growing at a rate of 1m per year. Such emptiness, in other words, is becoming increasingly rare.

Witness is at Pilar Corrias (London). 7 April - 4 May 2018.