Photos: Famed Chinese Fashion Photographer Brings Artwork To U.S. For First Time
Chen Man is one of China's top fashion photographers, gracing magazines from the likes of Vogue to Elle. For the first time, the 34-year-old photographer is bringing her work to the U.S. at a Venice art gallery on Dec. 10 that showcases her classical paintings and modern photographic works from the past ten years.
The signature look of Chen Man's fashion photography style includes her bright colors, post-production photo manipulation, and incorporation of Chinese themes. The exhibit, aptly titled, "East - West," will be on display at L.A. Louver Gallery through Jan. 24, 2015.
Chen Man tells LAist she's an "advocate of traditional Oriental philosophy," and she does this by melding together the history of China with the modernity of today, which is evident in her photographs. In her Motherland series from 2008, she snapped pictures of model Lu Yan against the backdrop of the Great Wall of China, something she says had never been done before with a mainstream fashion campaign.
"This series is very special to me, being the first photographer to use iconic Chinese locations as backdrops in fashion photography," Chen Man says. "Rather than repeating typical representations of China, I wanted to illustrate what Chinese beauty looks like in a contemporary context."
She adds that while most Chinese photographers have chosen to imitate Western photographers, she look towards China for her inspiration.
This exhibit will feature her ever-evolving work over the past decade, showing the different stages of her development. Chen Man, who was born in rural Inner Mongolia and spent her formative years in Beijing, will be presenting some of her earlier photographs she shot while attending Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. She relied on heavy post-production work on those photographs, and when she was criticized about it, she later started snapping minimalistic photos without the use of post-production in another series.
Chen Man's concern that Asian philosophy has had a "dwindling presence in the modern world" led to her creation of her Five Elements series in 2011, which reflected upon Buddhist and Taoist principles with modern culture. Five Elements would juxtapose photographs of everyday working women (like fishmongers and metalsmiths) with goddess-like interpretations of elements like fire, water, metal and wood.
Beyond her photography, she's included in this art exhibit classical styles of calligraphic Chinese paintings she did from 2012 to 2013.
"'East/West' can be seen as a definition of location, but it also refers to the convergence of time and space, and the fusion of traditional paintings and modern photography often seen in my work," Chen Man says.
L.A. Louver Gallery is located at 45 North Venice Boulevard, Venice, 310-822-4955. The opening reception for Chen Man's "East - West" exhibit will be on Dec. 10 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. RSVP to (310) 822-4955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. It will run through to Jan. 24, 2015. The gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.