At the end of April 1976, Adriano Madaro passed by Karachi and eventually arrived in China by taking an Air China flight from Paris to Beijing. From then on, his very first journey to China officially began. He was the first Western journalist who was allowed to come to China to interview in person on the eve of China's reform and opening up.
From the unique perspective of a Western journalist, Madaro aimed his camera at the general public of China. By using the shooting method of "street sweeping," he recorded pictures of that era from the cities to the countryside, and captured the signs of change and the potential development energy contained in China during that time.
“At that moment, I used to taking photos because the people were very simple, and also very different than Westerners. They were very poor, but with dignity, with one hope. This is important,” said Madaro, aka Lao Ma. “They agreed with what they had, how they lived. More happy. I see it's more happy.”
During the past 42 years, Madaro made 205 trips to China. More than 35,000 photographs of China were taken from 1976 to the end of 1980s, which became a valuable witness to the tremendous changes during China's reform and opening-up process and social development.
Madaro always believed that the communication between Italian and Chinese cultures had begun since Marco Polo's time. He hoped to continue to write a new chapter for the friendship. By planning exhibitions that showcased things with a long extensive history, Italians would be able to re-recognize Chinese history, and to restore the authenticity of history as much as possible by making facts speak.
Madaro never stopped traveling back and forth between China and Italy. With increasing cultural exchanges between the two countries, photographic exhibitions were also held in China one after another, bringing the beauty of history to people's eyes once again. Some exhibitions also organized activities to search for people in photos taken decades ago, and print them out and give them to people in those photos as a gift.
“In another life, I was a Chinese. Otherwise, it's so difficult to understand my love for this country,” Madaro noted. “When I arrived (Beijing) for the first time in 1976, I had a feeling that it was my country, my home. I just arrived home again.”
“I did a document of the spirit of China of those years. I was very lucky!” Madaro added.