"Perspectives: Hai Bo" at the Sackler Gallery Monday, February 21

Lest one look at last year’s arrest of Ai Weiwei and conclude that being an artist in China is inherently risky, photographer Hai Bo has managed to stay on this side of the law and produce incredible work throughout his 20-plus-year career. The subject of the latest in the Sackler Gallery’s “Perspectives” series, the artist tends toward photos that are introspective and nostalgic rather than political. The exhibit’s images are drawn entirely from his “Northern” series, for which he returned to his hometown of Changchun and captured the people and places of his youth. Hai’s “Four Seasons” photos capture the same setting at different times of the year. They’re self-portraits of sorts: In all of them he’s positioned himself beneath a great tree among snaking stone walls. “Spring” is counter-intuitively barren; there is neither grass on the ground nor leaves on trees. “Summer,” however, is lush, replacing the desolation of “Spring” with an aura of calm. There’s nothing here that Chinese censors would object to, but then again, who said you need to flip the bird at the Forbidden City to make worthwhile art?

THE EXHIBIT IS ON VIEW 10 A.M. TO 5:30 P.M. DAILY TO FEBRUARY 27 AT THE SACKLER GALLERY, 1050 INDEPENDENCE AVE. SW. FREE. (202) 633-1000.

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