Luo Bonian 骆伯年 (1911-2002) - also known as Luo Jun - was born in a prosperous family of Hangzhou government officials. Trained as a banker, Luo purchased a camera after graduating from college in 1932, and quickly joined a small but growing community of cosmopolitan amateur photographers in China.
This generation of the 1920s-30s engaged in a wide range of experiments that elaborated on photographic modernism and pictorialist aesthetic. Within this context, Luo’s drew his inspiration from both domestic and Western visual codes. This enabled him to play around with Chinese pictorial tradition and its peculiar attention notably to landscape, calligraphy, and painterly quality. Concomitantly, he explored the modernist avant-garde of Western photography in which there was a particular emphasis on abstract forms and exaggerated contrasts and shadows.
While the majority of Luo’s photographs are of the natural world, his still lives and portraits provide a rare glimpse into Chinese society and issues at stake in photographic practices in the years leading up to and during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945).