Known as the Best Chinese portrait photographer

Born in Chengdu in 1959

In 1991 published his book ¡°Bird of Paradise¡± on the writer San Mao, with solo exhibition in Taiwan Taipei Jazz Art Gallery.
From 1993 to 1996 he served as Marc Riboud¡¯s assistant in China
In 1992 he had a solo exhibition in Switzerland on the ordinary life of Sichuan Chengdu.
In 1993 he was selected by famous photographer and curator Juan I-Jong for a group exhibition of Chinese Photography in Toulouse France at Chateau d¡¯Eau Museum.
In 1994 he became the set photographer for Zhang Yimou¡¯s movie ¡°Shanghai Triad¡±
In 1995 he served as the set photographer of Yang Liping the choreographer¡¯s movie ¡°Sun Bird¡±
In 1996 he published his most important book ¡°Our Generation¡± a project that he started in the 1980¡¯s
In 2000 he published the book ¡°The Most Beautiful Women under my Lens¡±

2004 group exhibition at the Forbidden City International Photo Exhibition in Beijing
2006 solo exhibition at Epsite gallery for ¡°Women¡¯s Time¡± in Shanghai & Beijing
2006 Solo exhibition at the Lianzhou International Photo Festival
2007 Group exhibition at the F!F! Art Space in Shenzhen for his portraits of sea shore people
2008 Group exhibition ¡°Marc Riboud & Ses Amis¡± in Shanghai
2008 Group Exhibition ¡°China Portrait of a Country¡± curated by Liu Heungshing at Today Art Museum Beijing
2008 Group exhibition ¡°Beyond Borders¡± at He Xiangning Art Museum Shenzhen
2010 Key exhibitor of Holiday Inn Great Wall photo exhibition ?
2010 Solo exhibition ¡°Yang Liping by Xiao Quan¡± at Bloom Gallery Beijing 798 art district.

Encounter with Remarkable Women ¨C A portrait of Chinese Women on the rise

Late but better than never, the New China¡¯s Constitution promulgated in 1954 did officially provide the formal equality of rights between men and women, and Mao Zedong in the heat of the Great Cultural Revolution proclaimed in 1968 the "women hold half the sky" slogan. And in the Quotations from Chairman Mao the masses learned by heart the rhetoric ¡°Dare to struggle, dare to win, women hold up half the sky, times have changed, men and women are equal¡±. But in even today¡¯s fast developing China reality is far from this mathematical equation: be it in political, economical, social and professional areas, women hardly hold up to ¡°half of the sky¡±. China¡¯s one-child per household policy initiated in the early 1980¡¯s, has even accentuated in many rural regions a MEN¡¯s world. In that context we are delighted to discover that in photographer Xiao Quan¡¯s works, this equation is reversed, his women portraits do hold up to more than ¡°half the sky¡±, establishing Xiao Quan¡¯s reputation as the portraitist of China¡¯s most ¡°beautiful-minded¡± women.
Xiao Quan¡¯s encounter with remarkable women started when he first photographed his grand-mother in 1975. Then it was his portrayal in 1990 of the famous Taiwanese writer Sanmao, who committed suicide shortly after, who really inspired him to embark onto a journey to capture the spirit of artists and intellectuals onto film. Xiao Quan¡¯s far sight is widely recognized today as his monograph entitled ¡°Our Generation¡±, a collection of the Chinese literati of the last decade of the 20th century, has become a precious documentary of the little known artists and writers who later grew into successful celebrities or famous people.

Most of all, as a sensitive and handsome young man with his own brand of romanticism, Xiao Quan has taken to portraiture women in a rather unique style: remarkably his women would usually appear incredibly natural and true, so at ease and in abandon that they seem to lay their inner self bare, as if they were being photographed by someone who has been sharing their intimacy, someone they can trust completely, a member of the family, a very close friend, or even a lover. Intimacy however does not necessarily mean interior portrait, since we can see that most of Xiao Quan¡¯s portraits are taken outdoor, showing us instead the intimate and comfortable relationship of the subjects with their environment, with the landscape. Especially his long standing over 20-year relationship with China folk dance choreographer Yang Liping has produced a series of stunning portraits in the wild, most striking one being Liping dancing on the Great Wall. That open air portrait is Xiao Quan¡¯s trademark style. We can also sense in his portraits that Xiao Quan is someone who takes his time, spending a long hours if not days and years with his photographed subject, waiting patiently for this relaxed, self-abandoned and intimate moment when the true inner-self is liberated and finally revealed.
Obviously the women he was attracted to are remarkable first for their beauty. But they share in common a ¡°beautiful mind¡±. These remarkable writers, poets, comedians, drama or movie directors, singers, dancers, choreographers, musicians, journalists, TV anchorwomen, professional models, or even art school or university students, etc, are above all: WOMEN. With their singular feminine beauty, their intelligence and their power of seduction, their tenacity and their frailty, their courage and vulnerability. In the end Xiao Quan¡¯s portrait of them sums up to a tribute to their womanhood, to their universality, while testifying to his love and admiration for them.

Compared to the 1960¡¯s when China was plunged into a decade of chaos and obscurantism, when women, dressed like men in asexual clothing, were confined to hard manual labor as well as men, we can measure the evolution ¨C shall we say ¡°metamorphosis¡± - of the Chinese women through Xiao Quan¡¯s portraits of the 1980¡¯s and the 1990¡¯s. Although their dressing styles in the pictures bore traces of the influence of the fashion or the economic condition of the time; Xiao Quan¡¯s women have this timeless feel that makes them extraordinarily contemporary. It is their eyes, the way they look at the camera that have changed, under Xiao Quan¡¯s lens, they appear increasingly uninhibited, confident, earnest and direct. They are now world-savvy, intellectually smart women of the modern time while keeping their very unique Chinese femininity, a yin and yang combined identity inherited through the ages.
This love song of Xiao Quan is a genuine gift to those who will from now on hold up half the sky!

Jean Loh
Shanghai Feb 2011

Xiao Quan