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Biography: Han Lei

Beijing-based artist Han Lei is credited as a pioneer of Chinese photography following the Cultural Revolution. During the late 1980s, Han documented village life in his hometown of Kaifeng, Henan, and, since then, he has developed an expansive and complex artistic practice working across media including sculpture, installation, and painting. Nonetheless, Han remains a photographer first, and is noted for the elaborate pageantry and low-saturation of his images.

Han is particularly interested in exploring contemporary notions of beauty, literary figures, and traditional Chinese arts. The models who appear in his work typically possess certain unique qualities and are not conventional beauties. Corpulent women, for instance, are precisely posed, so as to evoke historical Western works of art or to enact familiar Chinese narratives. These striking images upend engrained perceptions of beauty, as they emphasize the inner states and emotional depth of these models, in addition to their enchanting outward distinctiveness. Employing similar tactics, Han has also produced a well-known body of work in which circular landscape photographs recall traditional Chinese paintings and are infused with nostalgia and timelessness.

Han’s work has been exhibited at the Kwangju Museum of Art, the Guangzhou Museum of Art, the Gwangju Museum of Art, the Guangzhou Photography Biennial, and the Prague International Museum, among others places.

1967Born in Kaifeng, Henan Province, China
1989Graduated from Central Academy of Craft and Design, Beijing, China.
Currently works and lives in Beijing, Zhengzhou, Hong Kong

Solo Exhibitions

2012Don't Get Me Wrong: Han Lei solo show, M97 Gallery, Shanghai, China
Klippe: Han Lei + Wang Yabin, C5 Art, Beijing, China
2010Han Lei:RUPTURA BREAKTHROUGH, Magee Art Gallery, Madrid, Spain
In between: Han Lei Solo Exhibition, Talkang Space, Beijing, China
The Light of Day: Han Lei Solo Exhibition, M97 Gallery,Shanghai, china
2009Image Tricks: Han Lei + Photography,Iberia Center for Contemporary Art ,Beijing, China
2008Swamp-Han Lei Solo Exhibition, C5 Art, Beijing, China
2007Renaissance of Photography: Han Lei Photography Exhibition, Gallery J. Chen, Taiwan, China
Photography by Han Lei, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong, China
2006Where is China? Han Lei Photography, Art Now Gallery, Beijing, China
Pagoda: Han Lei Photography, Gallery LOFT, Paris, France
2005Portraits: Han Lei, Gallery Polaris, Paris, France
Killing Legend, 798 Photo Gallery, Beijing, China
Han Lei Photography, Gallery Leda Fletcher, Geneva, Switzerland
2003Strange, Aura Gallery, Shanghai, China
1996-1997Alienation, Hippolyte Gallery, Helsinki, Finland; Podwell Gallery, Berlin,
Germany; China Art Archives & Warehouse, Beijing, China

Selected Group Exhibitions

2014Hans van Dijk: 5000 Names, Ullens Center For Contemporary Art, Beijing, China
2013Portrait of the times: 30 Years of Chinese Contemporary Power station of Art. Shanghai, China
New Framework: Chinese Avant-garde Photography from 1980s-90s,blindspot gallery. Hong Kong
Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin
2010China photographs Madrid @ Madrid Pavillion, EXPO, Shanghai
Community of Tastes – Chinese contemporary Art since 2000, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo(MAC), Santiago, Chile
Kalpastival of Photography, Iberia Center for Contemporary Art ,Beijing, China
2009Lianzhou International Photo Festival, Lianzhou, Guangdong, China
55 Days in Valencia: Chinese Art Meeting, Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno (IVAM), Valencia, Spain
2008The Oriental Rainbow: An Index of Images in China’s Urbanization Process, Magee Art Gallery (Madrid), Madrid, Spain
2007Distance Estimated by Eyes Photography of Eight Chinese, Guan Shanyue Art Museum, Shenzhen, China
Lianzhou International Photo Festival, Lianzhou, China
Memories of Twelve Artists’ Works, Dimensions Art Center, Beijing & Taipei, China
Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition: The New Wind from China, Gwangju Museum of Art, Gwangju, Korea
2006Lianzhou International Photo Festival, Lianzhou, Guangdong, China
Chinese Avant-garde Photography since 1990, Asia Art Center, Beijing, China
Chinese Contemporary Photography for 20 years, Square Gallery of Contemporary Art, Nanjing, China
Han Tsungwoo, Han Lei, Hong Lei Photography Exhibition, C5ART, Beijing, China
2005Paris Photo, Paris, France
City Skin-Images of the Contemporary Metropolis, Tap Seac Gallery , Macao
Rome Photography Festival, Rome, Italy
Viewing the City, Guangzhou Photo Biennial, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China
2004Rome Photography Festival, Rome, Italy
Traveling in Spring: Aura Gallery, Shanghai, China
If You Are A Collector, Aura Gallery, Shanghai, China
Illusion, Aura Gallery, Shanghai, China
Forbidden City International Photography Exhibition, Beijing, China
San Francisco International Photographic Art Exposition, San Francisco, USA
Intersection: Contemporary Oil Painting and Photography, Chambers Fine Art, New York, U.S.A.
Landscape: Hushen Gallery, Shanghai, China
2003Spiritual Tour, Top Space, Beijing, China
Elsewhere, Chongqing Art Museum, Chongqing, China
From China: Contemporary Chinese Photography, Gallery Image, Denmark
A Strange Heaven: Contemporary Chinese Photography, Prague International Museum, Prague, Czech Republic
Landscape, Aura Gallery, Shanghai, China
Rome Photography Festival, Rome, Italy
Tempo di Donne, Sala Gatti, Viterbo, Italy
2002Dialogue: Beautiful and Tragic, Capital Museum, Beijing, China
Golden Harvest: Chinese Contemporary Art, Croatia National, Croatia
Facing Reality, China Art Archives & Warehouse, Beijing, China
2001Disorientation: Photography and Video in China Today, Chambers Fine Art, New York , U.S.A.
3rd Ping Yao International Photography Festival, Ping Yao, China
Berlin Art Exposition, Berlin, Germany
2000Cities of the 21st century: Siemens Cultural Program, Frankfurt, Germany; New York, U.S.A.
1999A Visible Spirit: Contemporary Photography from the People’s Republic of China, Cypress College Photography Galleries, California, U.S.A.
1998Railways and People (the 1998 Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography Awards), Art Center and Studio Gallery, San Francisco, U.S.A.
1996China: Aktuelles aus 15 Ateliers, Reithalle, Munich, Germany
1995International Art Festival of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium
1994Contemporary Photography from Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, China
1993Rodez Photofolies 6th Festival, Rodez, France