From Iconography to Photography: Selected Chinese Contemporary Photographs from Charles Jin’s Collections

Duration: Sep.25 - Nov. 29, 2015

Venue: Cipa Gallery, Chaoyang District, Beijing

Curator: Cai Meng


Photography in China experienced a great transformation in the last 30 years. Chinese photographers extensively accepted Western contemporary photography, which directly led to a discursive turn in transformation. During these decades, nearly all the photographers were imitating and learning from Western masters’ images and schemes (image language). Nevertheless, a few photographers such as Adams, Bresson, Marc Ribound, Salgado, Eugene Smith basically stand in for the whole. There are plenty more photographers who have been recognized as of extremely high artistic value by others in the great traditional photography system constructed by imagery language, but they have never been heard before or were only understood by Chinese people.

However great changes and happenings with Chinese contemporary photography led to: on the one hand, a group of artists who have emerged since 1990s that have appeared to have recently matured, such as Wang Qingsong, Liu Zheng, Wang Ningde, etc. and their maturity reflects in their increasingly clear comprehension of the social reality they are living in while their attempt in breaking through photography media represented their profound introspection and understanding; on the other hand, a group of artists represented by Fu Yu, started to center around the vintage print to study and establish cognition through the research of “straight photography” in the western tradition of photography. In addition, a group of young artists that studied abroad and returned to China, as well as those who have grown up in China , have a more comprehensive knowledge structure of photography, thus their works tend to be more relaxed and diversified, and their execution, control in the ability of works are more comprehensive than the older generation of artists. In this sense, the return from iconography to photography has become a more important indwelling reform and transformation in recent Chinese contemporary photography.

Selected Works:

(All photographs are obtained from the Internet.)

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