Alex Huanfa Cheng takes us between the contradictions and duality of China

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Alex Huanfa Cheng is a photographer & artist based in Paris working in fashion and personal works. The distance from his hometown made him grasp a vision of reality and an inspirited point of view regarding the survival dilemma growing in modern China. Moved from comparisons, he reflects on the culture and that layer of incoherence that stays beyond greater promises, using images as metaphors to illustrate the matter.

About ‘Chinese Wonderland’– words by Alex Huanfa Cheng:

I was born in a rural area of China, and now I’m living in Paris. Every time I return to China, I have a deep impression that China is changing fast. The potentates promote the Chinese dream—dare to dream, work assiduously to fulfill the dreams and contribute to the revitalization of the nation. Under the philosophy of pragmatism and copinism, the society has a single ideology and thoughts are controlled. The economic profit is the priority for Chinese people. The economy takes off, but it brings many surreal and incongruous landscapes. Most people become philistine and have no spiritual pursuit. People like to dress in colorful clothes and seem to be embracing the idea of a wonderland, but others seem to no longer belong to the place they live in. Is the Chinese dream a common dream for everyone? Does it make China great again?

I traveled in different regions in China and tried to capture portraits, postures, and the style of regular people of different ages, various cultural and educational backgrounds and different economic conditions. I do not apply a predefined concept to the persons I meet, but I try to show their real character and particularity. Some who live at the bottom of society have an unconscious sense of humor. Some young people may be innocent and vigorous, but they involve themselves in political acts with terrible taste. Some may look confident and happy while others struggle and their homes were demolished to make way for new construction.

China is full of contradictions and duality. This kind of complexity is what makes contemporary China thought-provoking, exuberant, and fascinating. I will continue to explore different areas of China and photograph more people as anthropological researches.


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Time to read
3 min
Words by
Published on
22 August 2019
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Find out more on Alex Huanfa Cheng's website
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