The Exempted is a series of portraits of old peasants by renowned Chinese photographer He Chongyue (b.1960, China).
The artist, one of the most esteemed contemporary artists in the circle of Chinese photographers today, has had the idea of this project brewing in this mind for a couple of years. He travelled through China, going deep into the country’s rural areas and captures with his camera the insignificant and fading people of our time.
Behind the camera, the old peasants put on their best clothes and staggered towards He Chongyue. Before the camera, they faced the world with dignity and sincerity. As art critic Hai Ze (海則) remarked, “The spirit of the age ought to side with the humanitarian”. He Chongyue strives to document the “dirty laundry” the authorities try to tuck away at all costs; he puts the exempted back into our sight.
Born in Beijing in 1960, He Chongyue started taking photographs and exhibiting in 1984. He concentrated on traditional photography initially and has been pursuing contemporary documentary photography in recent years. He has held solo exhibitions in China, Japan, Spain and the USA, and his works have been collected by Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum as well as Guangdong Museum of Art.