BRUSSELS, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- The China Cultural Center in the Belgian capital is showcasing until Sept. 10 some of China's finest contemporary photography.
The exhibition displays 40 works from 25 photographers and marks China's radical social and cultural changes over the last 35 years.
Young, aspirational photographers including Chen Man (28) and Chilli (29), who studied together, demonstrate commercial even kitsch images, particularly Chen's exhibition's poster Miss Wei Studies Hard. This depicts a mini-shorted woman, the granddaughter of Wan Li, an economic leader under Deng Xiaoping, cycling with her Dior bag on a bicycle piled high with books.
Organized by the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film & TV and the China Cultural Center, the exhibition is curated by the Shanghai Center of Photography, founded by Pulitzer prize-winning Liu Heung Shing and his partner Karen Smith.
Hong Kong-born Liu, a former foreign correspondent and Associated Press photojournalist, told Xinhua: "This show emphasizes the major changes in Chinese life and photography from 1980 to now."
He added: "Photography is huge in China, especially now with the iPhone. Instead of traditional documentation, young people are using film and digital techniques, with photography an art form in a much broader way possible than it was before."
Liu, whose naturalistic work displayed includes a scene involving the Sesame Street children's television character Big Bird, singles out Han Lei's buxom Girl in Hair Salon as a standout piece, saying: "It is very different from the typical ideal of thin means beautiful."
Another exhibition highlight is Song Chao's striking, evocative photo of coal miners. Liu said: "A former miner, Song is close to the people so they let him photograph. They did not want to pose for me, saying 'we're dirty.'"
Many of the photos tell stories reflecting Chinese society.
"The problem of education is shown in Miss Wei and Follow Me (an arresting picture where students slumped over their books contrast with the upbeat Study Well, Progress Every Day slogan on the walls), even photographer Wang Quingsong is there with a hospital drip," Liu notes.
China's one-child policy initiated in the 1970s to reduce population growth -- which was relaxed this year -- is evident in Li Nan's Midwives, while Mu Ge's Going Home: Terminal Passengers, depicting young workers waiting for boats to take them to the Chengdu software factories, evokes China's economic growth.
Other photographers featured like Zhang Wei rework classical Leonardo da Vinci paintings using the latest techniques, while Lu Yao's High Pavilion in Cool Summer looks like a typical Hokusai print -- until it's clear Lu has superimposed photographed items over the ink drawings using digital technology.
The Grain to Pixel exhibition also remembers Chinese traditions, including nostalgic landscapes and village scenes. Liu explains he took a photo of a couple sitting in Shanghai People's Park, a black-and-white still reminiscent of Robert Capa or Henri Cartier-Bresson, when (in 1978) "people queued to sit on park benches to get some privacy."
The exhibition can be seen at the Chinese Cultural Center in Brussels until Sept. 10, Monday to Friday.
The center's next exhibition, Water + Ink: Tradition in Contemporary Art, runs from Sept. 1-24. Enditem