“Beautiful things disappear, but beauty lives on. It’s the same with love.”
Born 1971, Yuanjiang, Hunan. Lives and works in Beijing and Shenzhen
In 2010, Jiang Zhi’s wife, whose name meant Orchid, died suddenly at the age of 37. His photo series Love Letters (2011–2014) was his way of mourning her: “She loved flowers,” he says. Selecting one or two flower stems—first orchids and later lilies, roses, peonies—he sprayed them with alcohol, set them alight, and, with his shutter clicking at 60 frames per second, captured the blossoms haloed in pale flames. The artist, who is also a poet, likens the flames to the butterfly in a fairy tale he once wrote. The butterfly fell in love with a flower, and when the flower died it wanted to die too, to “be with its beloved forever”. In Jiang Zhi’s pictures, the flowers are wreathed in flames but miraculously untouched by them. It is as if their beauty, like love itself, is immortal.