Gao Zhongqi is one of the only artists in Hong Kong to have established a reputation in portrait photography. Born in 1936, Gao spent his childhood in Nanjing. The art of photography was introduced to Gao from an early age: his father, Gao Lingmei (1913-1993), set up a photography studio in Kunming in 1937. Gao's father met Zhang Daqian in Chongqing during the Second Sino-Japanese War and quickly became one of the most important collectors of Zhang's works. In 1949 Gao's family settled in Hong Kong, and Zhang Daqian lived with them before moving to India the following year.
At the age of ten, Gao Zhongqi started studying photography from his father. As a child he helped with restoration work on classical paintings belonging to Zhang Daqian, and later helped to photograph Zhang's own work for the painter's record as well as promotional purposes.
Gao also took portrait photographs of Zhang. The third photograph of Portraits of Zhang Daqian (Set of Three) (Lot 561) was taken in 1968 when Zhang was back in Taiwan for the taking of the honorable Doctor degree. The photo was taken in Gao's studio in Taiwan where Zhang was in a appears in a poised elegance of ease and peace under the camera lens. Number 1 from same lot was also shot in Taiwan in the 60s, whereas in number 2 from the same set, Gao has successfully captured Zhang's innocent moment when he was playing with a monkey.
Lot 560, Zhang Daqian, was shot in the 1960s during a short stay in Hong Kong. During dinner Gao took photographs of Zhang's varying facial expressions and gestures. Gao combined eight of these photographs with one of Zhang gazing into the distance. Whether dynamic or static, Gao managed to capture Zhang's genuine temperament through his work.
Gao's unique style of portrait photography also enabled him to become the star-photographer for the famous Hong Kong film studios, Shaw Brothers and Cathay.
The first photograph of Lot 560 was used as a promotional picture for the first movie starring the actress Lin Dai. Through Gao's use of light, he highlights the starlet's refined face and mysterious sultry eyes and her delicate hands. Gao's emphasis of Lin's beautiful hands captured the attention of Zhang, who subsequently painted her portrait.
The second photograph of Lot 560, featuring the actress Li Lihua was also used as a promotional picture for the film Yang Kweifei. Gao used three of Zhang Daqiang's massive six scroll paintings, Screen of lotus, as background for the shoot. Gao successfully captures an elegant yet solemn glace of Li's, who plays the refined beauty Lady Yang.
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