LIU Heung Shing
b.1951, Hong Kong / Lives and works in Shanghai
Liu Heung Shing returned from Hong Kong to the mainland in 1953 and attended primary school in Fuzhou, Fujian province before returning to Hong Kong in 1960. From 1971 to 1975, Liu studied Political Science at Hunter College, City University of New York. As an apprentice to photographer Gjon Mili at Life magazine, Liu’s first assignment in China in 1976 came at Life’s behest. He subsequently became Time magazine’s first accredited photographer in China in 1979. In 1981, he joined the Associated Press, moving from Beijing to postings in Los Angeles, New Delhi, Seoul, and Moscow, to cover most major events of the last decades of the twentieth century. In 1989 he received Picture of the Year Award for his work on the Tiananmen turmoil and, in 1992, shared a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the collapse of USSR, for which he was also awarded Kodak Overseas Press Club Award. Liu Heung Shing is the founder of Shanghai Center of Photography.
b.1967, Henan Province / Lives and works in Beijing
Han Lei graduated from the Central Academy of Art and Design in 1989 in Beijing. One of life’s nomads, his photographs map his travels, starting from his hometown, Kaifeng, and revealing a particular fascination for small town life and social misfits. Han Lei belongs to the first generation of independent photographers to emerge in China in the late 1980s, and whose work would have a significant influence upon the use of photography in art and the approaches to image-making for which a camera could be deployed.
b.1950, Shanghai / Lives in Shanghai
Sent down to the rural area for re-education by peasants from 1968 to 1972, Lu worked as a projectionist on a farm before being transferred, in 1976, to Shanghai Municipal Engineering Institute to work as scientific photographer. From 1980 he worked in Shanghai Putuo Cultural Center, retiring in 2000. He is a member of China Photographers Association, executive member of Shanghai Photographers Association, and Chairman of Putuo District Photography Association. His work with photography focuses on life in Shanghai, which through his lens is a dark, melancholy muse.
b.1959, Shaanxi province / Lives and works in Shaanxi province
In his early years, Li Qiang taught himself to paint, but from 1985 to 1987, at Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts, where he majored in photography. From 1992 to 2000, he worked as an editor, journalist and commercial portrait photographer in Xi’an, Beijing, Yinchuan and Yulin, before taking up a teaching position at Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts in 2001. Over the past 30 years, Li Qiang has created various series including Rural Life in Shaanbei (1981-present), Northern Scenery (1981-present), Distance (1981-present), and Elapse (2001-2008), among others. His series on hometown narrate his life experience, deeply conveying both the general picture and myriad details concerning this life.
b.1969, Sichuan province / Lives and works in Sichuan province
Li Lang graduated in 1990 from Shanxi University of Finance & Economics, having majored in Economics. In 1992, he borrowed a 6×6 120 film format folding camera to visit Kunming with his friends. This marks his first encounter with photography and with people who would become the subject of his photographic pursuit. His work Yi People at Mount Liangshan received the Mother Jones Medal of Excellence in 1999. The Yi people in his photos live close by Mount Liangshan at the border between Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. Li Lang continues to be inspired by people around him. In 2014, his work Father comprised an intense document of his father in daily life, displaying a reverence that is akin to spiritual devotion.
b.1979, Chongqing / Lives in Sichuan province
Muge graduated from Sichuan Normal University in 2004. He works as a professional photographer under Muge Studio. His works are widely exhibited. Both Going Home (2009) and Silent Films (2009) are series of black and white photographs of the Three Gorges and places along the Yangtze River. In facing a place he called “home” and yet which was constantly under change due to the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, he conveys emotions about home and his reflections about the special concept of a constantly changing place.
b.1953, Henan province / Lives and works in Henan province
Life provided Jiang Jian with diverse experience: from being a “sent-down youth”, he has worked as an electrician, a violinist and a photographer. Since 1985, he has held exhibitions at multiple galleries, museums, and photography events in the United States, Australia, and Europe. His representative works are found in the series Scenes/Place 1995, Masters (2000), Orphan Archives (2006) and The Fortifier (2011). Jiang Jian’s documentation of the living conditions of farmers and families in rural region of Henan province won him the Creation Award at the Sixth China Photography Awards.
b.1979, Shandong province / Lives and works in Beijing
As a contemporary portrait photographer, Song Chao is best known for his images of coalminers. Having grown up around mines in Shandong, Song Chao also worked at a mining company from 1997 to 2001. In 2001, he met a professional photographer Hei Ming, who was photographing a mining area. This inspired Song Chao to photograph his own home environment. This resulted in series such as Miners (2002), Migrant Workers (2011), and Left Behind (2012). The portraits of the miners fully express Song Chao’s knowledge of and respect for the miners and their own spirit. In 2009, he graduated from the department of photography at Beijing Film Academy. His portrait photographs have since been published in the New York Times and Time Magazine.
b.1968, Chongqing / Lives and works in Sichuan province
Documentary photographer Luo Dan began his career with studies at Sichuan Institute of Fine Art, graduating in 1992, and from 1997 when he worked as a photojournalist. Since 2005, he has free-lanced and focused on his own projects, most of which center on journeys that have taken him across China. First in 2006, he travelled the length of Route 318 from its beginning in Shanghai all the way to the west of China where Route 318 ends at the border with Nepal. Two years later in 2008, he embarked upon a similar journey from the northern border with Russia all the way down to Guangzhou in the south. In 2010, for his third major series, Simple Songs, he travelled deep into remote mountain areas of the Nu River in Yunnan, to photograph the small communities of people who illustrate how much life in the region has remained unchanged for hundreds of years.
b.1961, Shandong province / Lives and works Shandong province
Under the series title Identity, Li Nan documented a wide range of people of this age with different identities. Through the means he deploys, photographing groups of people rather than individuals, he projects a sense of what identity means to those living within a mass society. In these images, the subjects are actors, acting themselves as well as the photographer’s concept in scenes using body language and facial expressions that require meticulous arrangement.
b.1966, Hubei province / Lives and works in Beijing
Wang Qingsong graduated from the oil painting department of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in 1991 and, in 1993, moved to the Yuanming Yuan artist village at the Old Summer Palace. There, Wang Qingsong’s paintings experimented with an attitude of ridicule and self-mockery, leading to what became known as Gaudy Art. In moving on to photography, Wang Qingsong grafted symbols of culture onto scenes of modern social reality. Since that time, Wang Qingsong continues to use ever more complex sets to project his observations on contemporary life and its complexities, often involving a large cast of actors. He is today a representative figure of Chinese conceptual photography.
b.1977, Shaanxi province / Lives and works in Beijing
Zhang Wei graduated from the photography department of Beijing Film Academy. His works attach great importance to the quality of humanity, emphasized in his extraordinary “fake” portraits. In the series Temporary Performers (2007-10), Zhang Wei used his computer to invent virtual characters by appropriating features from portraits of other people and reconstructing them afresh. This was followed by the series Artificial Theater (2012-3), in which he replicates political and entertainment celebrities. Zhang Wei has received a number of awards including Global Times 2010 International Fashion Award, and has participated in many domestic and international group exhibitions.
b.1984, Guangdong province / Lives and works in Guangdong
Li Jiahao graduated from Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 2008. He worked for several commercial photographers and fashion photography studios in Guangzhou before becoming photography editor for the online magazine nono. The series Home Sea was completed at the beginning of 2008 and was developed as his graduation project. The girls who appear in the photographs are selected to evoke Li Jiahao’s nostalgia for his childhood. The series of portrait photographs is striking in its humanity, as expressed though the gaze of the children.
b.1980, Beijing / Lives and works in Beijing
Chen Man holds a BA in photography from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. Since graduating in 2005 she has worked as a commercial photographer, a career path ignited two years prior to graduating when she produced a series of inventive covers (2003-7) for the Shanghai-based magazine Vision. Since 2005, she has produced campaigns for brands such as Adidas, Nike and Motorola, while her shoots for magazines such as Vogue, Elle and L’Officiel have made her one of China’s most in-demand photographers. Her distinct brand of high-polish whimsy and fantastical kitsch is an exuberant and pioneering exception makes her as much a creative icon of her generation as she is herself a maker of icons.
b.1957, Guangdong province / Lives and works in Guangdong province
Zhang Hai’er is a successful commercial photographer, represented by the Vu agency in Paris, but his best known work grew out of his parallel interest reflected the immediate environs and a subculture of cross-dressers, swingers and creatures of the dark, which he created between 1989 and 2004. Zhang Hai’er also photographed a number of leading creative artists, writers, actors and film directors, images also distinct for their focus on personal reality. His portraits are tightly framed in a way that accentuates the subject’s gaze, often directed straight at the camera lens. Zhang Hai’er is one of China’s most distinctive observers of an invisible seam of urban life.
CHI Lei (Chili)
b.1981, Hebei province / Lives and works in Beijing
Chili is a photographer, designer, rock singer, director, magazine founder and editor-in-chief. He has worked as an art director for several leading visual magazines including Not Only Music, Maximal Rock and Roll, Wind, Another Book Magazine, the youth culture magazine 0086, and the environmental protection publication Greenness. He now devotes his artistic energies to the bi-monthly cult magazine O’zine, born of his own creative vision. Chili specializes in an interactive application of photography and painting, combining the weird, strange and iconic super-realism style of photography with an unconventional approach to pop culture.
b.1972, Shanghai / Lives and works in Shanghai
Maleonn is one of the most influential conceptual photographers to have emerged in China in recent years. He graduated from the Fine Art College of Shanghai University in 1995 with a degree in graphic design and started his career as a short film director before focusing on photography fulltime in 2004. Maleonn’s combination of drawing and installation art with photography has won him critical acclaim. Through use of models, props, and scene setting, Maleonn creates bizarre yet beautiful worlds captured in photographic works that make a play of dramatic tension. Recently, this has led to a project involving puppet theatre. He is the first Chinese photographer to win first place at the Monochrome Awards International Black & White Photography Contest.
b.1984, Shandong province / Lives and works in New York and Beijing
Taca graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2003 and moved to New York in 2004. In 2007, he completed studies in photography at Rochester Institute of Technology. Inspired by the Bronze Age anthology Book of Odes, in 2010 he began the photographic project titled Odes. This began with a year-long study of the Book of Odes as Taca planned a route of places mentioned in the book, every one of which he then visited. The 108 photographs in the series Odes form a visual connection with the structure of poetry, expressing a sense of literature as related to a remote and disappearing world.
b.1972, Anhui province / Lives and works in Beijing
Kan Xuan is a contemporary artist known for her work with video and performance. In her work with photography, Kan Xuan uses new technology to tackle an age-old subject; landscape and history. Between 2013 and 2014, for a project titled Millet Mounds, she spent months travelling across China to explore all remaining traces of the myriad emperors’ tombs. Using an iPhone, the greater portion of the images was done as straight shots, but some were dramatically manipulated to capture the aura of the place or to enhance the drama of the land and its contours and contrasts as Kan Xuan experienced them. The technological capability of this smart phone enabled her to inject these fragments of reality with an ambiguous blend of directness and fantasy.
b.1967, Beijing / Lives and works in Beijing
Yao Lu graduated from the printmaking department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1991. In 2000, he joined the Griffith University Visual Arts Master Program hosted by the Central Academy of Fine Arts in collaboration with Queensland College of Arts. He is now the chair and associate professor of the Central Academy of Fine Arts’ photography department. In his works, Yao Lu appropriates the style of Song Dynasty paintings, converting real objects into surreal aesthetic subjects. Yao Lu’s series titled Chinese Landscapes uses advanced digital technology to assemble piles of green dust netting that is used everywhere to cover construction materials and trash, together with ancient pavilions and boats to create scenes that look like carefully designed landscape paintings.
b.1985, Hunan province / Lives and works in Beijing and Hunan province
Huang Xiaoliang graduated from Qingdao University in 2009. In his work with photography, the major theme is memory and nostalgia. The series A New Expectation or Miracle (2009) expresses an air of yearning for the past through scenes associated with childhood innocence. Huang Xiaoliang creates these images using projections of light and scenes to produce shadow like a puppet theatre. His handling of scale between small objects made large and vice-versa is straight out of Alice in Wonderland.
b.1971, Hunan province / lives and works in Beijing
Jiang Zhi graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1995, and immediately became widely known for his work with video at a time when the medium was in its infancy in China. He began working with photography in 1997, producing works that have a strong narrative or literary content. Beginning in 2011, in echoes of a homage both to Western art history and to the tradition of poetry and flower painting in China, Jiang Zhi embarked on a series of photographs titled Love Letters; artful, minimalist floral arrangements in the manner of a Dutch still-life, where each of the beautiful blooms is in the process of being consumed by fire. Jiang Zhi’s Love Letters indicate the obsessive nature of love, further affirmed by the extraordinary care that the artist brought to composing them.
b.1989, Guangdong province / Lives and works in Beijing
Wu Shankun graduated with a BA in media and communication from Beijing Normal University in 2012 and an MA in photography from London College of Communication in 2014. He has published a number of essays on photography in China’s Photo World Magazine. Wu Shankun’s photography focuses on virtuality and the relationship between people and life. His photographs simulate social patterns formed in this pixelated world today. His series of digital works titled A Letter From Afar was nominated for the Seventh Three Shadows Photography Award in 2015.