Zhang Xiao

China 1981


Zhang Xiao
Zhang Xiao
March 8, 2015

Zhang Xiao is a Chinese photographer, best known for documenting his homeland with an insider’s attention to detail and an unflinching eye for composition.

Zhang Xiao was born in 1981 in Yantai City, Shandong Province, China and graduated from the Department of Architecture and Design at Yantai University in 2005. It wasn’t until he found an old camera that he discovered his desire to pursue the craft as a career and hobby. While working for the Chongqing Morning Post, Xiao would bring two cameras, one for work and one for his personal photos. Eventually the monotony of the work and job led him to quit and is currently working as a freelance photographer. He has since produced several wonderful projects documenting Chinese culture undergoing societal changes.

Zhang Xiao says of his work ‘These scenes are true reality, though they seem to be beyond our imagination.’ He has been inspired by the photography of Diane Arbus, Alec Soth and Boris Mikhailov.

In 2009, Zhang Xiao began to photograph sections of China’s 18,000 kilometer coastline in a large body of work entitled Coastline. Millions of people come from central China to the coastal areas for jobs ever year, to the new special economic zones created by the Chinese government, and this has transformed the coastline. The impact on the coastline has been great with exceptional growth in urban development. Many photographers have chosen to document the vast industrialization and construction of Chinese cities but Zhang Xiao was drawn to the coastal areas as it triggered many memories of childhood. He documents the sometimes inhuman nature of progress. At the same time, the work is not critical by its observation, with no explicit message that refutes China’s urbanization efforts.

Coastline still captures the beauty of the sea. By shooting on film and hand printing his photographs, he delivers the muted tones that are suggestive of the family photography of the past. Not only do his images afford a close-up look at a culture of China, but they do so with an extraordinary awareness of aesthetics. Balance of color, structure and form is captured in the most fleeting of moments.

The artist currently lives and works in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, China.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumGroup/Solo
2013ShanxiPekin Fine Arts, Beijing, ChinaSolo
2013TheyBlindspot Gallery, Hong KongSolo
20131st Beijing Photo BiennialCAFA Art Museum, China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2013FotoArtFestival International Photography FestivalBielsko, Biala, PolandGroup
2013International Meetings of photographyPlovdiv, BulgariaGroup
2013Multi Dimensional - Chengdu Photography BiennialSichuan, ChinaGroup
2012Coastline2902 Gallery, SingaporeSolo
2012CoastlineBlindspot Gallery, Hong KongSolo
2012ShanxiGalerie 208, Paris-FranceSolo
2012Singapore International Photography FestivalSingaporeGroup
2012Rising DragonKrannert Art Museum, Champaign, ILGroup
2012Rising Dragon: Contemporary Chinese Photography Katonah Museum of ArtKatonah, NYGroup
2012Dali International Photography FestivalYunnan, ChinaGroup
2012China Scape, Contemporary Chinese PhotographySOAS, London, UKGroup
2011Xiao ZhangMasion de la Photographie, LilleSolo
2011Paris Photo FairParis, FranceGroup
2011No Found Photo FairParis, FranceGroup
2011Dali International Photography FestivalYunnan, ChinaGroup
2011Prix Hsbc Pour La Photographie, Laureats 2011L’Arsenal de Metz, MetzGroup
2011CongEs PayEsGalerie 64 bis, ParisGroup
2011Multi Dimensional - Chengdu Contemporary PhotographySichuan, ChinaGroup
2011FORMAT 11 International Photography FestivalQUAD Gallery, Derby, UKGroup
2011MIO Photography Award ExhibitionOsaka, JapanGroup
2011Faces of LifeMuseum of Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2010The Three Shadows Photo Award 2010 ExhibitionThree Shadows Photography Art Centre, BeijingGroup
2010The Photography Talent Award ExhibitionBNF, Paris, FranceGroup
2010Lianzhou International Photography FestivalGuangdong, ChinaGroup
2010Southern Documentary Photography ExhibitionGuangdong, ChinaGroup
2010Group ShowKunstturm Art Museum, Bremen, GermanyGroup
2010Another LandscapeInter Gallery, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2010Subdue, Natural & Not NaturalSongzhuang Art Museum, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2009PhotocinemaQuad Gallery, Derby, UKGroup
2009Guangzhou International Documentary Photography FestivalGuangdong, ChinaGroup
2009Lianzhou International Photography FestivalLianzhou, ChinaGroup
2009PingYao International Photography FestivalPingYao, Shanxi, ChinaGroup