The exhibition will showcase two sets of work at Spazio Grotte inside the Fortezza da Basso. One is a newly commissioned series of portraits of Chinese faces along with some of the fashion designers who are traveling to Florence from China. The other is some of his archival work in the form of old Chinese family photo albums.
Earlier featured as a shining example of China’s new generation of tastemakers, Zhang said his photography at the moment is about “my personal romanticization of China, inspired by the experience of growing up in China.” He is, in particular, inspired by Chinese faces and the iconography of the late 20th century and early Aughts of China.
The 26-year-old, who grew up in Yangzhou and Nanjing, first took up a camera while studying film editing at university. Having worked with the Chinese editions of Vogue, Elle, T Magazine, Wallpaper, Marie Claire and more, Zhang said his career highlights so far have been the opportunity to work with Robbie Spencer on both Another Man and A Magazine Curated By Simone Rocha.
The Pitti exhibition will be curated by Dan Cui, former fashion director of GQ China. “I think Leslie is a great representation of the post-Nineties generation that has fully embodied the Chinese aesthetic and found a truly fresh narrative to get the rest of the world interested. He is a phenomenon. That’s why I choose to highlight his work, instead of presenting collective works from various photographers,” he said.
“I want to present his works as well as the creative thinking behind the scene. His lens not only captures the sound, the light and the color, it also showcases his observation on daily life and Chinese scenery [through set design]. Some of his amazing sets will be also on display at the exhibition. The audience can immerse themselves in his world while admiring his beautiful work,” Cui said.