We waited in line for a while (it was so long it went out through the entrance doors) to buy our tickets and I wondered if it was particularly this long of a line given the circumstances. There were two other exhibitions on show before we got to it and finally inside, everyone was quiet.
A small podium stands at the entrance with his self-portrait and a dying tulip and a small message to say that once he was here and now he is not. An exhibition to celebrate some of his greatest work and today it was an exhibition to celebrate his life and talent and the hole that is no longer filled with it.
His photos are hung together in groups so that they compliment each other in composition and colour and content. It's so well curated and so beautifully put together. He came to open this last solo exhibition of his here in Stockholm, in the middle of last month. And a month later he took his own life. And I will never understand why it is that some of the greatest creatives on this planet must be consumed by such darkness when they create art with the most incredible light.
One of the first Chinese characters I ever learnt to recognise was my family name. His name written in Chinese is 任航 and read as "Ren Hang" in Mandarin. But the first part, the same character, 任, when read in Cantonese is pronounced as "Yam". Sometimes it's just a tiny detail, a small connection, that reminds us of how we are all together, connected as one. I don't know why I felt so affected and upset when I looked at his photos today but perhaps it's in realising that there was something as poignant (or petty) as our names that we shared that made me feel something more.
They say that a photo is worth a thousand words but his photos breathe with a thousand stories in each and every one. And here there was a strange and unfamiliar closeness to them, and mixed with such tragic sadness in light of what happened, I wonder about the beauty in this breakdown.