Han Lei

Han Lei
b. 1967, Kaifeng, Henan
Han Lei graduated from the Department of Bookbinding of the Central Academy of Craft and Design in Beijing in 1989. Even preceding his graduation, Han Lei’s photographic work had been driven by his wanderlust and investigation of the human psyche. His first solo show, ‘Alienation’, opened at the Beijing Contemporary Art Gallery in 1995 with fifty idiosyncratic and estranged images of street life throughout China. This series of 35 mm black-and-white images carefully portray the isolated and disturbed spirits of their subjects—a back alley scene of a mentally handicapped person, lonely faces in the crowd, a silent stand-off between a German shepherd and a man—all are consistent in their haunting mood. ‘Alienation’ was a successful exhibition and the show went on to Germany and Finland; it was also compiled as a self-published catalogue under the same name.
In the late 1990s Han Lei began manipulating black-and-white photographs and negatives with dyes and paint to create impressionistic images of landscapes and portraits. Fabricated Portraits are circular prints of blurred out faces and figures from original and re-photographed found photographs that play on memory and disappearance.
His Fictional Landscape series depict eerily romanticized scenes where nature and industry meet. Han Lei’s project Railways and People was chosen for the 1998 Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography Award (USA). His work has been exhibited in ‘Disorientation—Photography and Video in China Today’ (Chambers Fine Art, New York) and in ‘Contemporary Photography from Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong-Kong’ (Hong Kong Arts Centre, 1994).
Han, Lei (1995). Alienation. 50 Photographs (exhibition catalogue). Copyright Han Lei.
Zhang, Li (2001). Disorientation. Photography and Video in China Today. New York: Chambers Fine Art.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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