Black and white delight in 'Shanghai Women'

He Zhaoya

Through unconventional depictions of her friends in Shanghai, the exhibition “Shanghai Women” showcases He Zhaoya’s extraordinary creativity in the black and white portraiture field, which kicks off today at the Creater Space of the Cool Docks along the Huangpu River.

“In my point of view the black and white portraits give a deeper insight into the picture and reveal the unsaid more deeply than the colored portraits,” said He, who has been photographing women for the past two decades.

Putting them in 1.2 meters * 1.5 meters print size, the 30 women she photographed come from different fields of work in Shanghai, varying in ages between 20 and 80.

Each of them is paired up with a historical building in Shanghai according to their professions, religions, hobbies and pastimes.

“Very often they would ask me what dress should they wear, and I just told them to put on whatever they feel comfortable with,” He said. “Because I’m not photographing their clothes.”

In her eyes, Shanghai women, as a group, have always been leaders in the nation’s modernization drive for more than a century.

When women in other parts of the country were house-bound in the early part of the last century, Shanghai women were frolicking on the beach in bathing suits, attending schools and learning foreign languages.

He retired from the Shanghai Theater Academy in 2008. With her expertise in character design, she started a jewelry business on her own and most of her made-to-order products are sold to women who, like her, always want something unique and different.

“Some are celebrities and some aren’t. I spot them, not because of their background but for the special piece of charm they own. Their beauty isn’t dependent on cosmetic surgery or photo editing software, but is natural and mesmerizing,” said the 66-year-old.

Exhibition info

Date: Through July 21, 10am-5pm

Venue: Creater Space | The Cool Docks

Address: 505 Zhongshannan Rd