Never-seen-before snaps of ‘old Hong Kong’ from legendary photographer Fan Ho to go on show

“On the Stage of Life” Photo: Fan Ho courtesy of the Blue Lotus Gallery
“On the Stage of Life” Photo: Fan Ho courtesy of the Blue Lotus Gallery

One year after he sadly passed away, Hongkongers will be able to celebrate Fan Ho, one of the city’s most renowned photographers, at a new exhibition of his life’s work.

The show, titled “Visual Dialogues: Hong Kong through the Lens of Fan Ho”, is open to the public and will run from June 13 to June 30, at Sotheby’s in Pacific Place. As it is a selling exhibition, attendees will also have the chance to bring home a piece of Ho’s oeuvre, with over 30 vintage works available for purchase.

A signed print of Fan Ho’s famed photo “Approaching Shadow”, dated 1954, is being sold by Sotheby’s.

Some of Ho’s most iconic photos from the streets of 1950s and 1960s Hong Kong, will be on display, alongside related personal objects — like the original Rolleiflex f3.5 camera he used throughout his life — and never-seen-before photos from his upcoming hardcover book, “Portraits of Old Hong Kong”, which will be on sale at the event for HKD780.

“Dancing Canopies” by Fan Ho appears in his latest book, “Portraits of old Hong Kong”

While the book’s photos — which were pulled from Ho’s archives — feature his distinctive use of light and shadow, they are more naturalistic than the stylized street shots that made his name; a form that the legendary photographer has been interested in a while, according to his own manifesto “Thoughts on Street Photography”. At the age of 28, Ho wrote, “My realistic street photos are rarely selected. Pictorial aesthetics and images with a sense of humour are still the key for salon photos but I expect changes to happen soon. In the meantime, I will just keep trying.”

“Opposites” by Fan Ho appears in his latest book, “Portraits of old Hong Kong”

The legendary photographer began selecting negatives and cropping images for the “Portraits” in 2015, but unfortunately passed away before he could complete it. Over the last year, Ho’s family has been collaborating with Blue Lotus Gallery’s Sarah Greene to complete his final project. The finished product features a foreword from famed Hong Kong director John Woo, an essay from Professor Joseph Fung of the School of Art Institute of Chicago, and biographical notes from Greene.

“Recollection of Wan Chai” by Fan Ho appears in his latest book, “Portraits of old Hong Kong”

Fan Ho was born in Shanghai in 1931 and moved to Hong Kong as a teenager. Although he found success as a director later in life, Ho was best known for his enormous body of photos which chronicled the little-seen alleys, street corners, wet markets, and slums of mid-century Hong Kong. He has won almost 300 local and international awards over the last 60 years.

What: “Visual Dialogues: Hong Kong through the lens of Fan Ho”
When: 10am to 6pm, Mon-Fri, 11am to 5pm, Sat, Wednesday June 14 to Friday June 30
Where: Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery, 5/F, One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway (Google Maps)
Price: Free

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