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Bani Abidi: ‘What you see in my films is what I know’ Ocula Conversation Bani Abidi: ‘What you see in my films is what I know’

A group of voices accompanies me in the exhibition. They are singing words I cannot comprehend, yet the warm tunes are familiar: folk songs, love songs, songs of longing. There are letters, too. They speak of the quotidian details of a soldier's life: the hardness of the war, sending money to the family, and longing for familiar landscapes, food,...

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Aichi to Okayama: Art in Japan Looks to the Future Ocula Report Aichi to Okayama: Art in Japan Looks to the Future 11 Oct 2019 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

There has been a flurry of triennial and biennial art activity in Japan this year. The Aichi Triennale opened in Nagoya this August, sparking a national debate about the shutting down of a display of formerly censored works—the result of public backlash against a burnt image of Emperor Hirohito and a statue commemorating the women forced into...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
Sponsored Content | Mazzoleni Gallery
Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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He Xiangyu

b. 1986, China

He Xiangyu (何翔宇) is part of a new generation of Chinese conceptual artists whose work tests the limits of taste and perception, while critiquing sociopolitical issues such as rapid urbanisation and the impacts of global capitalism. Seemingly simple in their form and aesthetics, his projects are often collaborative and sometimes take several years to realise.

His Coca-Cola Project (2009-12) is exemplary of this, for which the artist boiled 127 tonnes of Coca-Cola over a year, transforming it into a bitumen-like residue that he then assembled into multiple configurations. One such configuration saw the artist grinding the residue into a powder that he used to create Song dynasty-style ink paintings. This multi-layered work involved a labour force based in his hometown of Dandong, near the North Korean border, where he employed ten workers to construct iron vessels that were used to transform the liquid. In the drawn-out mutation of a liquid synonymous with Western capitalism, He offered commentary on the relationship between art production and consumption.

These ideas also imbued his Tank Project (2011-13), the production of which also necessitated a work force—this time an entire factory of female needle workers. He used 400 pieces of fine Italian leather in order to reconstruct a life-size military tank (an object of recurrence in many episodes of Chinese modern history); its disparate form and material conflated power with desire.

He's practice often takes a localised approach, as seen in his move towards film and video for the Evidence project, which was exhibited at White Cube Bermondsey in London in 2018 (7 February-8 April 2018). Zeroing in on his hometown of Dandong, He examined the complex geopolitical position of the Kuandian area and its position beside North Korea, namely its separation from the country by the Yanlu River. This examination is particularly potent in the artist's feature-length film The Swim (2017), which premiered at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in February 2017. Basing himself in Dandong with a film crew over the course of two years, He explored through a series of interviews the area as a site of relocation for defectors escaping from North Korea along with veterans who fought in the Korean War (1950-1953).

In the making of The Swim, He discovered that before fleeing, many defectors scavenge objects of minimal value that they bring with them to China and sell on arrival. In his video work Evidence (2017), He restages the meticulous process performed by defectors in order to enable the transportation of these objects. Upon this discovery, he collected these objects himself and exhibited them at his solo exhibition at White Cube Bermondsey. In a 2018 conversation with Ocula Magazine, He expressed his initial unease with this project, noting how 'working on the objects meant consuming or exploiting them.'

Born in 1986 in Lianoning, China, He Xiangyu graduated from the Oil Painting Department at Shenyang Normal University in 2008. He has exhibited in numerous exhibitions and biennales around the world, including the Busan Biennale (2014), the Yokahoma Triennale (2014) and the 13th Biennale de Lyon (2015). In 2013, his work was included in 28 Chinese, an exhibition at the Rubell Family Collection in Miami that was the result of six research trips the Rubells made to China between 2001 and 2012, during which time they acquired artwork from 28 artists.

He Xiangyu lives and works in Beijing and Berlin.

Biography by Tessa Moldan | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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untitled by He Xiangyu contemporary artwork
He Xiangyuuntitled, 2017 Acid-free oil-based marker on paper
41 x 31 cm
SCAI The Bathhouse
Palate 18-1-9 by He Xiangyu contemporary artwork
He XiangyuPalate 18-1-9, 2018 Acrylic and oil stick on paper
76 x 56 cm
Andrew Kreps Gallery
Palate 18-1-8 by He Xiangyu contemporary artwork
He XiangyuPalate 18-1-8, 2018 Pencil, oil stick, acrylic, glue, and acid-free oilbased marker on paper
80 x 54 cm
Andrew Kreps Gallery
Palate 18-1-7 by He Xiangyu contemporary artwork
He XiangyuPalate 18-1-7, 2018 Pencil, acid-free oil-based marker, and Japanese ink on paper
75 x 51 cm
Andrew Kreps Gallery
Palate 18-1-6 by He Xiangyu contemporary artwork
He XiangyuPalate 18-1-6, 2018 Acrylic, oil stick, and acid-free oil-based marker on paper
57 x 41 cm
Andrew Kreps Gallery
Palate 18-1-5 by He Xiangyu contemporary artwork
He XiangyuPalate 18-1-5, 2018 Pencil and acid-free oil-based marker on paper
88.5 x 60 cm
Andrew Kreps Gallery
Lemon Pickers by He Xiangyu contemporary artwork
He XiangyuLemon Pickers, 2018 Fibreglass, epoxy resin, oil paint, stainless steel, polyethylene
Andrew Kreps Gallery
Untitled by He Xiangyu contemporary artwork
He XiangyuUntitled, 2018 Pencil, acrylic on canvas
80 x 110 x 3 cm
Andrew Kreps Gallery

Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, He Xiangyu, Save the Date at SCAI The Bathhouse, Tokyo
Closed
28 October–3 December 2016 He Xiangyu Save the Date SCAI The Bathhouse, Tokyo
Contemporary art exhibition, Crossed Beliefs, He Xiangyu at SCAI The Bathhouse, Tokyo
Closed
4 October–9 November 2013 Crossed Beliefs He Xiangyu SCAI The Bathhouse, Tokyo

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

LACMA Explores the Allure of Matter Ocula Report LACMA Explores the Allure of Matter 14 Jun 2019 : Jareh Das for Ocula

The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) (2 June 2019–5 January 2020) is an inter-generational show of 21 Chinese artists working from the 1980s to the present, including Ai Weiwei, Cai Guo-Qiang, Lin Tianmiao, Song Dong, He Xiangyu, Yin Xiuzhen, and Ma Qiusha.Staged on Level 2 of LACMA's Renzo...

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He Xiangyu Ocula Conversation He Xiangyu Artist, China

He Xiangyu's second solo exhibition, Evidence, at White Cube gallery's Bermondsey space in London (7 February–8 April 2018) is somewhat different from the artist's first exhibition with the gallery in 2014 (He Xiangyu: Inside the White Cube, 22 January–13 April 2014). Gone is the crystallised residue of 127 tonnes of Coca-Cola that the artist...

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Philip Tinari Ocula Conversation Philip Tinari Director, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing

Philip Tinari, the man Xu Zhen has described as “China’s son-in-law,” really needs no introduction. The Director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), (an independent museum in Beijing's 798 Art District with over half a million visitors a year), he is also the founding editor of LEAP, a contributing editor...

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In Related Press

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'Juxtapoz x Superflat', curated by Takashi Murakami, Juxtapoz and Toilet Paper Magazine at Vancouver Art Gallery Related Press 'Juxtapoz x Superflat', curated by Takashi Murakami, Juxtapoz and Toilet Paper Magazine at Vancouver Art Gallery Art Radar Journal : 12 January 2017

Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s artistic practice is expansive – spilling into fashion, film and other commercial areas. The artist turned to curating in the early 2000s, producing several projects, including Superflat (an exhibition that toured Nagoya Parco Gallery, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Walker Art Center and Henry Art...

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Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA) announces 2016 winners Related Press Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA) announces 2016 winners Art Radar Journal : 2 December 2016

On 15 November 2016 the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA) announced winners Cao Fei, He Xiangyu and Xu Bing. In its 10th edition, the award was founded in 1997 by pioneering Swiss collector Uli Sigg, who began collecting Chinese contemporary artists in the 1990s.The aim of CCAA is to give awards to Chinese artists and art critics who show...

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Ink Remix at CMAG: Chinese traditions remixed in cutting-edge collection Related Press Ink Remix at CMAG: Chinese traditions remixed in cutting-edge collection The Sydney Morning Herald : 1 July 2015

Delicate brush strokes on paper – calligraphy, lyrical subjects, perhaps woodblock prints on handmade stock.These are the things that most commonly spring to mind when it comes to Chinese ink art – ancient methods and traditional subjects, perhaps reinterpreted in a contemporary context but always recognisable. Recognisable and...

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Fire and forget. On violence Related Press Fire and forget. On violence Domus : 27 June 2015

“Fire and Forget” is a commonly used term in military jargon for weapon systems that are triggered at a safe range from the enemy, and can reach their target independently.It is structured along the four thematic complexes of Borders, Affect, Memory/Remembrance, and Event. The Border motif serves as an introduction to the subject....

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