If you know the work of Australian photographer William Yang, it’s usually his photographs of people and communities that you will be familiar with. Yang captures joyous, confessional and deeply human stories that are heartfelt and intimate in many of his portraits, often writing the narrative about his subject or the moment captured on film directly on to the image.
The major survey exhibition ‘William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen’ aims to bring the varied thematic explorations of William Yang together with a particular emphasis on landscape photography. Yang began taking shots of landscapes from very early in his career and while his studies of people tend to take the limelight, his landscapes are just as mesmerising and revelatory.
DELVE DEEPER: Read more about the work of William Yang
Yang applies a similar process to both his landscape photography and his portraiture — he records a personal connection and is closely attentive to his subject. Often shooting in the heart of the bush or forest, his camera’s viewpoint is embedded deep within the scene, gazing up into a canopy, closely studying the bark of a tree, or looking out from under leaves across a lake.
The natural landscape is integral to Yang’s practice. His emotional connection to the landscape is often scribed onto his images of the natural world and reflects the artist’s diaristic approach to his work. These narratives are often when he is at his most philosophical, reflecting on his connection to place and how his immersion in the natural world evokes a contemplative, if not spiritual, state.
“When I became Taoist I came to appreciate nature in the form of landscape as a source and a driving force behind everything that existed. It was constantly changing and renewing itself. Everything about nature was beautiful because it was essentially always itself.” The Tree and I William Yang 2010
Come and experience his large scale, sweeping landscapes in the free exhibition‘William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen’ at the Queensland Art Gallery until 22 August 2021.
Rosie Hays is Associate Curator, Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA, and Curator of ‘William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen’
Buy the publication
The accompanying publication William Yang: Seeing and Being Seen explores the artist’s prolific practice. The 220-page hardcover monograph features reproductions of over 200 photographs, tracing Yang’s career from his heady early days as a social photographer in the 1970s documenting Sydney’s queer scene, family ties, sexual and cultural identity, and the Australian landscape. It also examines his deep connections to Queensland / RRP $49.95 / Special limited edition with signed print RRP $300.00 / Available from the QAGOMA Store and online
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Featured image: William Yang / The Tree and I 2010 / Inkjet print on Ilford Galerie Smooth Cotton Rag / 34 x 50cm / Collection: William Yang / © William Yang