Zhang Hai'er
Night Scene with the Photographer’s Left Hand, Guangzhou 1987

Zhang Hai’er

b. 1957, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

Zhang Hai’er was among the earliest photographers to develop a distinct, independent approach to documentary photography in the late 1980s and early 1990s in China. In searching for new documentary subjects, he turned his lens toward the city, photographing the changing urban landscape and lifestyles. His portraits of prostitutes, socialites and ordinary women in the Bad Girls series go beyond the objective, neutral stance of conventional documentary photography. Half-undressed women, mostly in an indoor studio or domestic setting, stare provocatively at the camera, engaging the viewer and exposing the presence of the photographer.

Zhang Hai’er graduated from Shanghai Theatre Academy in 1982. One of the pioneers of experimental photography in China, Zhang Hai’er and four other young Chinese photographers were invited to participate in the prestigious Arles Photography Festival in 1988 in France, the beginning of international exposure of Chinese photography to the western world. He has held solo exhibitions at Image Fotografisk Galleri (Aarhus, Denmark) in 1995 and Musée d’Élysée (Lausanne, Switzerland) in 1993. His work is collected by Fondation Danielle Mitterrand (Paris, France); Musée de l’Élysée (Lausanne, Switzerland); White Rabbit Collection (Sydney, Australia); Power Station of Art (Shanghai, China), Shanghai Center of Photography (Shanghai, China), Sifang Art Museum (Nanjing, China) and Taikang Space (Beijing, China).

Zhang currently lives and works in Guangzhou, China and Paris, France.

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