Chinese Photographs Look Like Traditional Paintings

These images may appear to be traditional Chinese prints, including the beautiful calligraphy and stamp work that decorates such classic works… but in fact, they are all photographs. The serenely peaceful craft of Don Hong-Oai, a Chinese born artist who immigrated twice and never left behind the stunning aesthetic of his homeland.

Don Hong-Oai was born in Canton, China in 1929. The youngest of an astounding 24 siblings, his parents passed away when he was just 7 years old and soon he was sent to live within the Chinese community in Saigon, Vietnam. He would spend most of his life there doing odd jobs until he became a student at the Vietnam National Art University. He remained in the country throughout the Vietnam War, but when conflict broke out between the Peoples Republic of China and Vietnam in 1979 he fled to the San Francisco.

Now 50 years old and speaking no english, Hong-Oai was able to procure a small dark-room in the city and continue his photographic work, returning to China every few years to make new negatives. It wasn’t until the last few years of his life that his work was discovered by the public and became popular with collectors worldwide. The artistic master passed away in 2004, leaving a legacy of beautifully meditative art, the result of a life-long persistence and passion for beauty. You can see more of his prints on flickr.


Benjamin Starr

Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

Promoted Content

Leave a comment

Please be polite. We appreciate that. Your email address will not be published and required fields are marked