Zeng Nian

About the Artist

Photographer Zeng Nian was born in China in 1954 and moved to France in 1990. He used to study painting and was a sailor for more than ten years. Since a young age of 12, Zeng has been interested in photography and been taking photos with camera borrowed from his friend. Having inspired by the Chinese painting and printmaking in their horizontal line and panoramic format, Zeng got rid of the traditional photography style and created his unique signature black and white panoramic perspective. With the camera lens, he recorded the culture, history and bold changes in his country. In his professional career, he has worked with big magazines and foreign newspapers such as New York Times Magazine, Paris Match, Figaro Magazine, The Independent and the French edition of the National Geographic. Gaining a lot of attention in the arts world, Zeng has become a photographer of great distinction in both China and France, with exhibitions in ten different cities over the past two years.


One of the purpose of my photography projects is to meet new people. 

In 2012, I went back to YangTze river for the Three Gorges project. I met Mr. Sun 16 years ago and this time when I'm back I met him again and I took some pictures of him. After that I traveled Sichuan, Hunan and Yunnan China as well as Champagne-Ardenne in France throughout the project. After spending most of the time in Bretagne region in France in 2017, I returned to Mountain Pu-er in Yunnan China.

In this artwork you can see a standing character with the white background: combining fifty individual images in order to put together a large portrait. Each photo has its own focal length and exposure, which is similar to how we observe each other's in real life. We usually observe someone with several focuses: how they are dressed, how they look like, any traces of their age, their body gestures etc. These are all the elements we use to form a first impression towards a person in our mind.


Three Gorges


The Three Gorges series is named after the Three Gorges Dam, which is the world’s largest hydraulic dam located in the province of Hubei in the heart of China. The construction of the huge dam made over one million people leaving their house. Zeng Nian sees the vast region of the Three Gorges as of immense historical importance to China. He did not only witness the transformation, but he also captured those dramatic and violent moments before they would vanish beneath water so they would not be forgotten.

The choice of a wide-angle, panoramic 6:17 format in his series. His photos are shaded with nostalgia and filled with humanity from his investigation of the social and cultural realities of China in the throes of changes. Allowing us to enter the space and moment of the past, Zeng’s works are indeed a true experience to the old China. His photos consist a profound sense of reality and simplicity, they also give testimony to the social and cultural realities of rapidly evolving China, as a confrontation between the secular history and the modern world.