an online gallery of Chinese photography
China has almost one fifth of the world population, and with its focus on education and infrastructure, with the eradication of rural poverty, with booming cities and their architectural wonders, it is much more than a new economic presence in the world. There are huge numbers of people with high quality equipment and who have worked hard, nurtured by photographic societies, to achieve technical excellence. For very many, such skill is a sufficient outcome, while others go much further. This website exists to break through the language barriers to encourage international exchanges.
Feature, SEPTEMBER 2020
‘Heritage’ sites throughout the world, including UNESCO sites like Pingyao, are always a little ‘brushed up’ compared with the less orderly but more real and more naturally aromatic version from history, which of course we are unable to access. Still, Pingyao, a former prosperous centre of banking, is as good a place as any to experience old China. It’s also now the home of China’s biggest and most truly international photo festival.
This year, between September 19th and 25th the festival has both a direct gathering, with wise precautions but still a sharing of enthusiasm, person to person, and an expanded online presence, the biggest constraint being difficulty of international travel.
Very many over-45s in China count photography as a major and active pastime, and in China very many means VERY many. However, there is an emphasis at this year’s festival on developing young talent. There is no lack of potential, and as the world’s cultural centre of gravity shifts inevitably to Asia, there must be, and is, a great interest in how this talent will develop and find its due place in the world.
Fan Ho, 何藩
Big City, Little Man
何藩，transcribed as He Fan in pinyin Chinese but known outside China as Fan Ho, was born in Shanghai in 1931 but spent childhood years in Macau and later lived in Hong Kong, where he worked as a photographer, film-maker, and actor. Big City, Little Man is the title of a short (30 minute) film he made in 1961, and neatly summarises his work as a presenter of humanity in the urban setting that lies somewhere between geometry and chaos. He was a seeker, and finder, of beauty that others did not see.
Feature, JULY 2020
Images downloaded from Baidu, July 2020
Feature, MAY 2020
The decisive continuum – work of Zhang Yimou
Much is said about the decisive moment, a snatch at the world with the removal of time, following the traditions of painting. There is no denial of the reality of time in the process, but in fact a revelation of the existence of flow. Videography, and cinematography, are closer to the experience of the everyday, and thus do not challenge the artist or the viewer in the same way. Nevertheless, the eye of the photographer is a precious resource in the business of on-screen storytelling. The work of Zhang Yimou shows such an eye, and in a movie as wondrously beautiful as Hero (2002) every frame could stand as a still image.
The movie, set in the Qin dynasty of more than 2000 years ago, is a flow of Chinese iconography – vast columns of silk, rain-soaked courtyards, deserts of western regions, and of course the imperial p[alace with its hordes of warriors and officials.
Above: movie still from HERO (2002), downloaded May 2020
Below: posters for the movie, also downloaded May 2020
Feature, April 2020
郎靜山, Lang Jingshan, 1892 – 1995
China has the world’s longest continuity of culture, and also one that is unique but only sporadically explored by foreigners. Cultural exchange and mutual respect remain limited, even in the twenty-first century. And just as there is now concern in some quarters in China about excessive foreign influence, so it was one hundred years ago.
Thus figures such as poet and academic Liu Bannong, 刘半农 (1891 – 1934) and photographer Lang Jingshan looked back, including to the flourishing golden age of the Tang Dynasty (which just happens to have coincided quite neatly with the darkest of the European Dark Age).
Drawing water from the river at dawn, 1934.
Mooring in the misty river at night, 1937
Lang, previously a photojournalist in Shanghai, sought inspiration in Chinese painting and its freedom from constraints of the rectangular frame and from compulsion to fill the whole surface thus enclosed. Neither was his creativity limited by petty technical ‘purism’ of image making. Long before software provided more convenience, he used composite images, and incorporated ink brushwork.
His work became known outside China, and in 1937 he submitted work under the title of ‘After the Tang Masters’ to an exhibition of the Royal Photographic Society, becoming a Fellow of the RPS in 1942. In 1980 he was named one of the world’s top ten master photographers by the Photographic Society of America.
Feature, March 2020
The IPA annual competition
The International Photography Association, based in Guangzhou, has about 300, 000 members and promotes photographic excellence through a wide range of programs including travel, education and an annual competition.
For direct information see: www.ipa001.com/zt/py/
For the English language version of the IPA website go to: www.ipa001.com/ipa/E_index.html
Below are some winning images from the 2019 competition.
Feature, February 2020
observers and observed
Zhang is a professional wildlife photographer、having won the LUMIX AWARD 2019, Nature’s Best Photography Asia. He creates work for the Xinhua News Agency, r NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC (Chinese Version), Wild China, and Ambassador for the Lancang River National Park.
Working and walking with heavy equipment, alone in isolated and sometimes dangerous places, he is acting to protect China's wildlife.
熊天翼， Xiong Tianyi
Feature, January 2020
the joy of colour
Traditional Chinese culture is not timid about colour. So it is not surprising that Chinese photographers seek and play with colour.
Using drones, and with deep local knowledge gained from work in the County Archive, Gu creates a gloriously colourful sense of place in Ninghai County, Zhejiang Province.
Between green and blue:
On July 14, 2018, a high speeding train passes a bridge in Meilin Street, Ninghai County, Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province, China.
Old town festival
China is the world's largest island, separated from others not only by ocean but by mountain ranges, by the Taklamakan sands and vast forests of Siberia. It's true that many of its creations seeped westward to provide the foundations of the European renaissance – most notably movable type, and the paper to go with it, gunpowder, the compass – but much of its ancient tradition stayed at home. So it is with Chinese Opera, variously called Beijing Opera, Sichuan Opera, Guangdong Opera ...
To 'foreigners', like this writer, the sound and the performance are quite alien at first, but not only are the special vocal techniques a result of intensive training but the measured expressions of emotion strike deeply into the heart of listeners, observers, who care enough to take due notice.
Feature, December 2019
Wang Fuchun, Chinese on the Train
Born in 1943, Wang Fuchun took to China’s vast railway system in the 1970s. With great affection and humour, he produced images of his countryfolk over a forty year period, during the peak of the country’s continuing economic boom.
World Bank figures show the transformation, from 88% of people living in poverty in 1981, to 0.7% in 2015. China’s middle class is the largest in the world, and has money to spend, including often on expensive cameras and on travel.
Wang Fuchun is one of the record-keepers of what is surely one of the greatest social changes in human history. His choice of the railway system was apt. Air travel in the 1970s was limited, and the growth there has certainly reflected China’s general change. But the railway system has offered greater continuity. It was packed with people in 1980, and today it still provides almost 2.5 billion journeys each year, now in much greater comfort and often using the world’s largest network of high speed 'bullet' trains.
Wang followed a tradition that is familiar in the West, of recording change such as of child labour in the USA in the 1890s or life in London slums 70 years ago. However, his images offer no pleas for compassion or manifesto for social change. They do not seek out suffering, and often they seem posed, to present happy lovers or relaxed business people. They are still cheerful, optimistic, and his intentions indeed seem based on a love of people. Not The People, just people, both as photographic subjects, and as themselves.
Original photography by Wang Fuchun
Chen Zhoubo is based on the Guangdong coast. where he is able to make a study of the fishing community working from the beaches, as well as those who are just there to play.
Feature, November 2019
Feature, October 2019
identical twins, different outcomes
Work by 高荣国， Gao Rongguo
Born in 1984 in Shandong province. Gao Rongguo graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 2012, majoring in photography. His work has been exhibited internationally, at venues including Quai Branly Museum, CAFA Art Museum, Chongqing Art Museum, Today Art Museum, DongGang Museum of Photography, Sotheby's Gallery, Changjiang Museum of Contemporary Art,and Beijing Mingsheng Art Museum. In print or online it has appeared in Time, The Huffington Post, The DailyMail, Vanity Fair, La Repubblica, Esquire, Feature Shoot and Rheinische Post Online.
Pan-View Gallery, Zhangzhou, Henan Province
Set up in 2005, Situated in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, Pan-View Gallery is the only photography art gallery in central China, providing services for image exhibition, collection and international exchanges.
Shanghai Center of Photography, SCoP, was founded in 2015 by Liu Heung Shing, Pullitzer Prize winner for work in 1992 on the collapse of the Soviet Union. The venue offers as a showcase of international and Chinese creativity, across the range from journalism and documentary work, social history, fashion to art photography.
Inter Art Center, 798 Art Zone, Beijing
Since its founding in 2006, Inter Art Centre has used its large space of more than 1000 square meters to collect, conserve and exhibit classic photography, and to present contemporary art, including experimental and new media work. The Centre is also home to the Pixel Magazine Publishing House, the Pixel Bookstore, and a cafe.
Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing and Xiamen
Three Shadows Photography Art Centre was jointly founded in 2007 by the influential Chinese contemporary photographer RongRong and his wife, the celebrated Japanese photographer, inri.
There are two spaces, north and south: one is situated in Beijing’s Caochangdi Art District, while the other is located in Xinlinwan, Jimei District in the city of Xiamen in southern China.
SEE+ Gallery, Beijing
The academic committee of see+ gallery comprises famous image critics and curators who are responsible for recommending and planning exhibitions, and for inviting experts for lectures and seminars.
The Yuezhong Museum of Historical Images, Shenzhen
A museum, rather than a gallery, displaying images of China and other East Asian countries, some dating back to the nineteenth century
In general, the museum does not hold originals. However, the collection is an important one, and of interest both to historians and to photographers.
AYE Gallery, Beijing
Exhibitions of photography and other visual art from around the world. Dongbinghe Road, Andingmen, Dongchang District, Beijing
WE Gallery, Shenzhen
Pingyao International Photography Festival
Taking place in the old walled city of Pingyao, Shanxi Province (nearest major city, Taiyuan), each year in September, this is one of China's prominent festivals dedicated to photography and videography.
Lianzhou International Photography Festival
Situated on the Huangchuan River in the north of Guangdong province, Lianzhou is a small city (by Chinese standards) of about half a million people. It has hosted the Festival since 2007, as well as Lianzhou Museum of Photography. The event takes advantage of the mild southern winter.
Lishui, Zhejiang Province
Started in 2017, and an annual event.
With about 300,000 member and provincial branches across China, IPA is very active is arranging events for members, including travel within China and abroad, including, recently, to New Zealand and Nepal.
IPA, The International Photography Association, based in Guangzhou
SISTER SITES …
Visual physics for understanding concepts, for students aged 13 to 16
Video for adult learners of English at beginner and elementary levels
Know China – an introduction for travel and study
A fun gied too speling ov dhu Inglish langwej
Our UK company
Video and information for children
This website is published by Smilite Ltd