Yu Likwai is a Chinese filmmaker and photographer, internationally recognized for his artworks inspired by film noir and psychoanalysis.
Yu Likwai, also known as Nelson Yu Likwai was born in Hong Kong in 1966. He went to Belgium to study cinema at the Institut National Supérieur des Arts du Spectacle Film School. Back home after graduation, he soon became an important figure in the movie world of Hong Kong and Continental China, both as a cinematographer and a director.
Yu Likwai has long experimented with photography, video and installation in addition to his filmmaking pursuits. Yu’s artistic projects negotiate the relationship between the stillness of photography and its implied narrative. Drawing inspiration from sources as diverse as film noir and psychoanalysis, Yu’s artworks explore urban spaces and the psychological weight endowed upon them by the viewer. As a photographer, Yu’s work shows a strong cinematic accent. Operating in the gap between sensation fiction and documentary fact, between slick scenario and fresh perception, they deliver strong hints at narrative subtexts.
The artist explains his interest in photography, ‘Over the years, I have been taking photos of empty spaces: dysfunctional apartments, abandoned factories and urban peripheries. By contemplating these desolate city fabrics, a weird fixation developed in my mind – Is there any possible kind of latent “existence” hidden inside my images? Since then, I was absorbed by the idea of reinventing imaginary human traces belonging to these barren locations. Thus the whole photographic project was initially a fill in the blank mental exercise. All my narrative motivations were triggered by the Void of these unoccupied spaces even before any human character was invented.’
His directorial feature films include Love Will Tear Us Apart (1999), All Tomorrow’s Parties (2003), and Plastic City (2008). During his 18-year career as a cinematographer, he has shot all of Jia Zhangke’s films to date and has worked with Ann Hui and Lou Ye, among others. Yu has won numerous international prizes, including Best Cinematography, Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Yu’s photographs are in the permanent collection of M+, the new innovative museum in Hong Kong and Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.
Yu Likwai lives and works in Beijing.