Born in Shanghai, Fan Ho and his family settled in a buoyant Hong Kong in 1948. The centre of a chaotic atmosphere, the city had received the thousands of refugees of Japan’s invasion and thus was marked by despair, poverty and tumult. Yet, the photographer managed to capture an almost empty city, concentrating on individual subjects and scenes whose theatricality were enhanced by his dramatic use of light, shadow and smoke within geometric compositions - no wonder one of his series was entitled Living Theatre. With his black and white images, Fan Ho illustrated a nostalgic and melancholic cinematic Hong Kong where traces of modern life and issues disappeared behind traditional lifestyles as if reality had been erased: ‘I liked to concentrate and simplify the world in black and white, it was more suitable to my nature. I could express my emotions more freely, they were more fully under my control, [and the results were] surreal and semi-abstract. I liked this distance: not too close, not too far away…’ With his reclusive photographs, Fan Ho offered a seductive fantasy to Hong Kong’s inhabitants, that of loneliness.