May Xiong’s Hypnotic and Puzzling Conceptual Photography


All photographs are taken by May Xiong. Used with permission.

Aesthetically, Seattle-based photographer and visual storyteller May Xiong’s work is not only magnetic but also quietly pleasing in its dreamlike quality; so no matter how dark and brooding they are or how fantastical they get, whether a series of hers is inspired by an old fairy tale from our childhood or by a calligraphy artist many people haven’t heard of, her portraits always feel oddly familiar. It’s as if we all have dreamt her picture stories during one restless night’s sleep or another.

In her conceptual work, however, May takes that hypnotic flavor of her photographs to another level and then adds unique twists and peculiar details to produce visually striking but puzzling images that leave it up to audiences to interpret on their own. In her own words, May tells the Phoblographer…

“My conceptual work explores oddity, beauty, and attention to detail in portraiture. The arrangement of the subject and the environment often plays a big part in balancing the two. A mixture of portraiture and fine art, these constructed pieces are shaped by the idea of skewing one’s perspective, leaving the viewer to define the emotion behind each photograph.” 

Whether it’s a portrait of a finely dressed gentleman covered in dead fish and smudged with paint or a photo of a half-naked guy, face covered in paint and surrounded by geometrical lines, May’s conceptual photographs convince spectators that they have hidden messages waiting to be uncovered. But really, their beauty comes most of all from the fact that can bring forth whatever emotion, whatever message, whatever representation one expects to draw from them.

See some of the conceptual photographs after the jump.

For more of May Xiong’s work, please visit her website.





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