Cian Oba-Smith is a young photographer from London, graduated at the University of West England. He loves capturing people and places in a manner that is at once strikingly realist and also dreamily romantic. Oba-Smith’s photography is often concerned with the fringes of society and has a particular interest in the relationship between people and their environments. His latest series by is ‘Shanzhai’ which protagonist is the curious phenomenon of copycat architecture in China, all under a set of pastel documentary-style images taken in and around large metropolitan cities like Shanghai and Hangzhou.
Approximately 15 years ago, areas in these cities the size of entire towns underwent large-scale transformations to replicate elements of Western urban environments. In particular, the photographer focused on towns with architectural similarities to those seen in iconic Western-European cities: a Parisian-style neighborhood with a replica of the Eiffel Tower, a Venetian-style area of buildings that overlook a canal, are a few notable examples.