Monday, 13 February 2017

Yvan Cohen | Chinese Opera

Photo © Yvan Cohen - All Rights Reserved
I've been interested in Chinese opera for quite a while; way before watching Farewell My Concubine. As a photographer, I'm attracted by its visual aesthetics and by its colorful make up and costumery...but I am also interested in its history and its influence on other similar art form in Asia.

For instance, I've photographed a performance of Hát Tuồng in Hanoi a few years ago. Influenced by Chinese opera, it is one of the oldest art forms in Vietnam, and is said to have existed since the late 12th century. I wanted to spend much more time in photographing its performers, but was constrained to do so as I was leading a photo workshop, and couldn't set aside enough time for it.

Together with Greece tragic-comedy and Indian Sanskrit Opera, it's one of the three oldest dramatic art forms in the world. I won't go into much background detail about the art, as it is widely -and more ably- described on scholarly websites, as well as on other blogs (including in previous posts on my own blog.)

Here's a wonderful photo essay by Yvan Cohen on Chinese Opera which combines traditional photojournalism and closeups of the performers' faces and make up. Presumably photographed in Bangkok's Chinatown where opera companies, hired by local Chinese shrines, perform mythical stories in Mandarin to observe celebrations marking the Lunar New Year.

Don't miss his photo essay on Bangkok's Chinatown which he has been photographing for some 7 years now – visiting once or twice a week, mostly at night.

Fluent in English, French and Thai,
 Yvan Cohen is a photojournalist based in Bangkok who works mainly in Asia. As a freelancer, he has been published in international publications including covers for Time Magazine and the New York Times. His work includes fashion, features and commissioned portraits. Other credits include The Sunday Times, Forbes, L'Express, AsiaWeek, La Vie and others.

He is also a co-founder of the LightRocket media management platform.