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March 12, 2010

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'Old Marc' a China legend

MARC Riboud is no stranger to the circles Chinese photographers mix in. He's referred to by his contemporaries out of fondness and respect as "Old Marc" (Lao Ma Ke).

Riboud is regarded as a legend in the eyes of these lensmen, as much for his photo "Painter of the Eiffel Tower" as his snaps of China in the 1960s.

The irresistible appeal of his black-and-white photos is captured in "The Instinctive Moment," the photographer's solo exhibition featuring 118 photos at the Shanghai Art Museum through April 2.

"Photography is essentially a spontaneous reaction to a surprise," claims Riboud, a man in his 70s and visiting Shanghai with the exhibition.

Riboud was a member of the Magnum Photos Agency's band of photographers for nearly three decades and was one of the first few Europeans permitted to come to China, Vietnam and Nepal in particularly turbulent times.

Born in 1923 in Lyon, Riboud has been regarded as "a legend that crosses Eastern and Western cultures."

From street corners behind the subject, viewers can see the beauty of Paris in his pictures; from the Tian'anmen Square scenic backdrop, he captured people's expectations for modern China. Perhaps the enthusiasm of local visitors for Riboud's show reflects the nostalgia they harbor for the period in their memories and feelings.

Riboud's camera has an earlier connection with China than most of his Western peers. He has travelled many times to China, focusing more on ordinary people and ordinary things.

"The rumor says that I have spent my life returning to China," Riboud says with a smile. "This is not quite correct, but it is true that I can't hide that I love to return often to revisit the landscapes and especially the cities that are dear to me, to see again my friends, the Chinese photographers."

Date: through April 2, 9am-5pm

Venue: Shanghai Art Museum, 325 Nanjing Rd W.

Tel: 6327-2829


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