One of the leading artists in the era of China’s New Photography movement in the 1990s, Hong Lei’s photography is inspired by his early art experience and learning from traditional Chinese paintings. The feeling of nostalgia pervades Hong Lei’s works. A self-described literati, Hong Lei mourns the rapid loss of traditional Chinese culture and history through conceptual painting, installation, and photography-based work.
Hong currently lives in Changzhou
Forbidden City / 1996-97
Hong Lei first experimented with photography in the Forbidden City series, in which a mutilated bird lies in the glory of the former imperial palace. The carefully crafted photographs, artificially weathered by surface scratches, evoke the extreme elegance, yet weakness of traditional culture after five thousand years of imperial power. “Over time, I have come to see the dead bird as the embodiment of my own self,” says Hong Lei.