Chris Rayn

Chris Rayn

Visual artist Chris Rayn explores contemporary, globally relevant issues of our societies and state as human beings: the changing face of our cities through globalization and gentrification, the challenges of the digital revolution and ubiquitious automatization, the perception of the individual in an increasingly virtualized world. His principle of artistic creation, the canvas of nature, rejects staging scenes or creating them digitally in the computer, but fully embraces the transitory nature of photography for exploring urban transformation and perennial change. Inspired by the classic visual arts, Chris Rayn's artwork features meticulous compositions, rich colors and deep contrasts in a complex visual language.

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Artist Profile

  • Born: 1981, Germany
  • Based: Shanghai, China
  • Genres: Urban/Cityscape, Nature/Landscape, Abstraction/Experimental
  • Themes: Man vs Nature, Return to Nature, Nature of Reality
  • Style: Compositional Rigour, Intrinsic Color, Deep Contrast, Authenticism

Origins

Intersecting the Arts and Sciences

Born in 1981 to an architect and scientist in East Germany, Chris Rayn has developed a rich background in both the visual arts and natural sciences. The rare gift of looking beyond the limits of each discipline, and bridging them, have brought him to create works of art that work on many layers: visual, societal, psychological, philosophical as well as personal. In his projects, Chris Rayn utilizes both his exceptional understanding of aesthetics and an analytical thinking that encompasses a broad spectrum of fields, focusing on a complex visual language as well as deep meaning and relevance.

A Life Shaped By Transformation

Grown up in the 1980s on the other side of the Iron Curtain, the lessons drawn from the fall of the Berlin Wall and the life-altering change of entire societies and belief systems overnight have become a marked part of Chris Rayn's identity and steered his artistic interest to transitory and transformative processes - change happening naturally vs. change driven by people -, and the existential questions arising from them: what shapes us as human beings naturally and through our environment? How much of what we perceive is real or a figment of our interpretative, reality-creating mind? Can we overcome our nature, and should we?

China - Microcosm of Global Contemporary Issues

Chris Rayn has followed China's rise and Shanghai's urban transformation every year since 2004, when China only made a blip on Western radars for spiking energy prices, and is based full-time in the metropolis since 2011 to explore more deeply the heating up development and fields of conflict. Mirroring East Germany's post-unification transformation in many aspects, and strongly contrasting it in others, it is here where Rayn is continuing his life mission of exploring transformative processes.

While Shanghai is and always has been a forebearing microcosm of China's development on the whole, China itself faces in a poignant manner many of the contemporary social, economic and political issues people around the globe are struggling with in modern society: vocational challenges from the digital revolution and the rise of AI, rampant consumerism as a new "religion", returning classism and social inequality, environmental degredation stemming from non-sustainable lifestyles and the primacy of economic growth. As such, Rayn focuses his work on globally relevant, modern human conflicts, with China being the ideal setting and allegory to explore these riveting issues that concern us all.

Style

Chris Rayn's works have been lauded for their deep meaning, their emotional power due to application of strong colors and contrasts, and the profound expressiveness of their intricate compositions. Throughout the years, he has developed these two stylistic means - richness of intrinsic colors & contrasts and a strong focus on the structural composition of the works - as his signature style. Through his analytical mind and unique eye for aesthetics, Rayn recognizes naturally the great underlieing structures and principles of the world and visualizes them in his works, using the canvas of nature to bring to life his interpretation of the world.

His approach in creating art and stylistic principles are strongly inspired by the classic world of the visual arts and his own upbringing in this field (hence his identification as photographic artist rather than artistic photographer). In that light it is not surprising that many of his works have been attested a "painting-like quality", and his proficiency in subjects (corresponding to such divergent photographic fields as landscape/nature photography, urban/street photography and abstract photography) is explained in that fashion: his focus is on themes and their stylistic realization in the arts (which happens to be a camera instead of a brush), a holistic view that transcends the borders of conventional photographic fields.

Themes frequently featured in his works, projects and exhibitions include the perennial beauty of nature, its conflict (and integration) with urban life, the contrasts & tension between modernity and history, progress and conservation, rich and poor - topics which have a renewed relevance in our globalized, ever faster changing world and a specific significance for the dynamic East-Asian societies.