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b. 1986, China

He Xiangyu Biography

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.

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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.

Tessa Moldan | Ocula | 2018

He Xiangyu Featured Artworks

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Untitled by He Xiangyu contemporary artwork
He XiangyuUntitled, 2018Pencil, acrylic on canvas
110.2 x 80 x 2.9 cm
Andrew Kreps Gallery Contact Gallery
Untitled by He Xiangyu contemporary artwork
He XiangyuUntitled, 2018Pencil, acrylic on canvas
110.2 x 80 x 2.9 cm
Andrew Kreps Gallery Contact Gallery
Palate 18-2-9 by He Xiangyu contemporary artwork
He XiangyuPalate 18-2-9, 2018Acrylic, graphite, charcoal, pencil, oil stick, acid-free glue, acid-free oil-based marker on paper
210 x 152 cm
SCAI The Bathhouse Contact Gallery
Untitled by He Xiangyu contemporary artwork
He XiangyuUntitled, 2018Stainless steel, wood, rubber, plastic
SCAI The Bathhouse Contact Gallery
L&R by He Xiangyu contemporary artwork
He XiangyuL&R, 2014cotton, glass, iron
SCAI The Bathhouse Contact Gallery
Lemon Pickers by He Xiangyu contemporary artwork
He XiangyuLemon Pickers, 2018Fibreglass, epoxy resin, oil paint, stainless steel, polyethylene
Andrew Kreps Gallery Contact Gallery
Untitled by He Xiangyu contemporary artwork
He XiangyuUntitled, 2018Pencil, acrylic on canvas
80 x 110 x 3 cm
Andrew Kreps Gallery Contact Gallery
Untitled by He Xiangyu contemporary artwork
He XiangyuUntitled, 2018Pencil, acrylic on canvas
70 x 90 x 4 cm
Andrew Kreps Gallery Contact Gallery

He Xiangyu Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, He Xiangyu, Who Are Interested in Us at SCAI The Bathhouse, Tokyo
Closed
18 November–21 December 2019 He Xiangyu Who Are Interested in Us SCAI The BathhouseTokyo
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 BathhouseTokyo
Contemporary art exhibition, Crossed Beliefs, He Xiangyu at SCAI The Bathhouse, Tokyo
Closed
4 October–9 November 2013 Crossed Beliefs He Xiangyu SCAI The BathhouseTokyo

He Xiangyu Represented By

He Xiangyu In Ocula Magazine

LACMA Explores the Allure of Matter Ocula Report LACMA Explores the Allure of Matter By Jareh Das, Los Angeles

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.

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Philip Tinari Ocula Conversation Philip Tinari By Stephanie Bailey, New York

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 to...

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He Xiangyu 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 12 January 2017, Art Radar Journal

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 2 December 2016, Art Radar Journal

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 1 July 2015, The Sydney Morning Herald

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 27 June 2015, Domus

“ 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...

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