Han Lei

Han Lei has worked with painting, sculpture, and installation, but photography remains his favored medium. Han was one of the first professional photographers following the Cultural Revolution in China, and has become known for his dramatically lit scenes with low saturation, featuring contemporary models acting out classical narratives or Chinese legends. The underlying themes in these works are sentimentality, nostalgia, and upheaving traditional notions of beauty. Han’s models, for example, are ordinary, even unremarkable women cast as protagonists in lush landscapes. He also sometimes includes anachronistic props—a popular toy, a pair of earmuffs. Han thinks of his own work as “an improbable fable consisting of the simplest stuff that people often ignore.”


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