In the heart of Shanghai’s popular art district M50 lies the art space of Xuanmin JIN, one of the city’s most successful and celebrated photographers.
Originally from Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province, the 50-year-old interior designer has been based in Shanghai since 2004. And it is here that he started taking photographs for a living. After having received numerous awards for his work as an interior designer, M50 held a photography exhibition in the summer of 2005 which officially launched JIN’s career as a photographer.
Due to his background in interior design, JIN is well-experienced in using perspective, colours and composition to create visually intriguing artworks. “Design and photography have in common a rich visual feedback”, says JIN. His photographs reflect these features, and they achieve to portray the most beautiful sides of Shanghai and China. JIN experiences himself as a witness of the rapid and profound changes in his environment. Indeed, aesthetically pleasing as his images may be, JIN describes himself first and foremost as a documentary photographer. Determined to document the metamorphosis of his surroundings, JIN uses his camera to freeze a moment in Shanghai’s life, as this city awakens every morning with a new face.
JIN has gained quite some popularity and commercial success, resulting in international and national exhibitions, such as the China Pavilion exhibition Memory during the world Expo in 2012. In addition to his gallery in M50 he opened another art space in Tianzifang, offering anything from postcards to large and stunning posters. His customers are mainly Westerners, who find a depiction of contemporary China in his works; the notion of a China that is strongly tied to its ancient roots whilst striving towards modernism.
JIN’s favourite photograph, the Fan Dance, represents exactly the combination that visitors to Shanghai find so intriguing: the survival of tradition against a background of busy modernisation. The photographshows Chinese people performing a traditional fan dance in the early morning hours at the Bund, framed by the Pudong skyline sticking out its neck in anticipation of another restless day.
WORDS: CAMILLE GAZEAU
PICTURES: CAMILLE GAZEAU / XUANMIN JIN