Traditional Chinese painting has a strong tradition of still lifes that depict perfect specimens of nature. Hong Lei's images refer to, yet depart from, that tradition. Hong is troubled by how quickly China is changing and mourns the loss of history and tradition. He has said, "When I manufacture my images, I give that which has survived an intense visual power. The images are strongly emotional and nostalgic. It is about triggering memory as that history disappears."

Hong presents us with branches of a pomegranate tree populated with flies and a butterfly all held in place by strings that are plainly visible. The artist has made a point to show the viewer the staging of the artwork. We are reminded that what we see is not real, but manufactured. Details such as the rough edges of branches broken from trees may imply force and even violence applied to nature.


  • Title: Speak, Memory of Pomegranate
  • Creator: Hong Lei
  • Creator Birth Place: Jiangsu, China
  • Date Created: 2005
  • Location: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
  • Physical Dimensions: 37 1/8 x 47 1/8 inches (94.3 x 119.7 cm)
  • Type: Photograph
  • Publisher: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
  • Rights: © Hong Lei
  • Medium: Chromogenic print, edition 8/10
  • Art Form: Photography
  • Credit Line: Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Museum purchase. Courtesy of the artist and Chambers Fine Art, New York.

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