Capturing beauty through the lens

Chinese artist Wang Xiaohui rose to fame with her 2001 book "My Visual Diary – 15 Years in Germany." Now, 54 of her best photos are on display in an exhibition through August 10.
Ti Gong

Artist Wang Xiaohui

Time and life take their toll on many beautiful faces, but there are exceptions. Two of these are undoubtedly Chinese artist Wang Xiaohui and actress Audrey Hepburn, captured in Wang’s lens.

An exhibition featuring nearly 54 pictures taken by Wang in her “Flower,” “Yin and Yang” and “Light” series over recent decades is underway in the Pudong New Area through August 10.

Multi-talented Wang rose to fame back in 2001 with her stunningly personal bestseller, “My Visual Diary.”

Born in Tianjin in 1957, she was a little girl when her parents divorced. In 1977, Wang scored well on the national entrance examination and enrolled in Shanghai’s Tongji University at the age of 20.

It was there she met what she calls her “once-in-a-lifetime soulmate” Yu Lin, an architecture professor.

Everything was on track for a successful life in Europe after their overseas study. But in 1991 when they were traveling to the Czech Republic to attend Wang’s solo exhibition, they were involved in a road accident. Yu was killed and Wang was badly injured.

The accident was transformative.

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Audrey Hepburn in 1992  in a photo taken by Wang Xiaohui

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While others try to conceal their scars and let time heal wounds, Wang addressed the pain head-on — “tearing at the scabs” in her words — and even took pictures of her damaged face in her hospital bed which she included in “My Visual Diary.” The bestseller brought Wang instant recognition and critical acclaim.

Over the past decades, Wang has been active on the contemporary art stage through her pictures and installation and video works.

The highlight of the exhibition is two black-and-white photos of Hepburn captured by Wang in 1992, the year before the actress’ death. Wang was studying film directing in Munich and was invited for the premiere of Zhang Yimou’s “Ju Dou” there, where she met Hepburn.

“Hepburn was stunningly beautiful despite the wrinkles on her face,” Wang recalls. “If there is a flower to compare her to, I think it should be the rose. Hepburn possesses a unique beauty that blossomed throughout her entire life.”

Wang also took color photos of Hepburn at the same time, but they were destroyed during printing.

“That makes these two photos even more precious for me,” she says. “In my lens, she was like an angel on Earth.”

Exhibition details

Date: Through August 10, 10am-7pm

Address: Rm 503, 66 Huayuanshiqiao Rd, Pudong New Area

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“Flower” series

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“Light” series

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