Hu Weiyi is a multimedia artist and curator whose photographs and installations blend nature with found images. His layered artworks reflect his experience of natural and urban environments, often commenting on the social and cultural conditions of a place.Read More
Hu Weiyi was born in Shanghai. Hu's father is the new media artist Hu Jieming, whose video installations combine physical diagrams, history, and architecture to create interactive digital experiences. Hu Weiyi's work follows a similar range of influences, drawing its inspiration from social ethnography, art history, and experimental film.
Hu graduated with a BA from the Department of Public Art at the China Academy of Art in 2013. He completed an MFA at the Academy's School of Intermedia Art in 2014, where he studied under Zhang Peili, a multimedia artist associated with the 1985 New Wave Movement and a pivotal figure in video art and Chinese contemporary art.
Public Art, Private ExperienceIn Hu's work, individual experience is offered as a window into social realities and shared conditions. In 2012, Hu curated The Bad Land (2012), a group exhibition in which 24 artists occupied a public crossroad in Shanghai with a selection of multimedia performances. The performances were also recorded and projected on the back of storage trucks in a nearby parking lot. Hu's own contribution, Keep Crawling (2012), showed 40 mechanised plastic soldiers painted nude and crawling across the road.
In The Window Blind (2019), a multimedia installation showing apartment buildings viewed behind windowpanes, the urbanised landscape appears at once serene and isolating. Curtains open and close at random intervals, shutting as the viewer moves close, opening as they move away, echoing public censorship in contemporary China.
Hu tries to refrain from perfecting the image, despite his interest in traditional printing processes like cyanotype, known for its blue tone and inexpensiveness. According to Hu, it is the artist's responsibility to find unique ways to combine elements to relay important messages, rather than focusing on a 'perfect' technical outcome.
In 2019, Wei made 'Branches' (2019), a cyanotype series showing delicate branches electrocuted by a high-voltage current printed on brass planks. Hu notes that while he enjoys refining his technique, 'the artist's subjectivity' is where the artwork rests.
Often, Hu's process will be just as crucial as the resulting image. Method and medium are selected to complement the reflection. For 'Blue Bones' (2020), the artist collected X-rays of his own body as well as the bodies of elderly family members, strangers, and the deceased. Hu softened the images using cyanotype and merged them with photographs of flowers to invoke the duality of death and life.
References to the body as the site of sensory experience can be noted in Flirt (2014), an installation blending enlarged photographs of naked bodies, collar bones, and lips, lit by bright neon wires.
The body as the origin of individual perception is also palpable in Hu's 2021 exhibition Geography of the Body (2021), in which stomach acid is equated to the corrosion of natural landscapes. Featured in the show was Hu's 'Erosion' series, in which film negatives of the Shangri-La mountains are covered in a muddy layer of gastric juice. Printed on aluminium panels, the vivid colour of the fantastic landscape is preserved under a haze, while recalling the degradation of the natural environment.
Hu Weiyi received the Wall Artist Award in 2015, the Art Sanya Huayu Youth Award in 2014, and the China Academy of Art Gold Medal of Excellent Graduation Works in 2013.
In addition to this exhibition, the artist has participated in the following select solo exhibitions, including Hu Weiyi: The Window Blind, Hadrien de Montferrand Gallery, Beijing (2019); Intersecting - Hu Weiyi, A+ Contemporary, Shanghai (2018); Hu Weiyi: Daily Routine, Don Gallery, Shanghai (2017); Hu Weiyi, Asia Art Center, Taipei (2015); Hu Weiyi: No Express, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2015); and Flirt, M50 Art Space, Shanghai (2014).
Group exhibitins include 3rd Photo Biennale, CAFA Art Museum, Beijing (2018); Shanghai Galaxy II, Yuz Museum, Shanghai (2017); Body Media II, Power Station of Art, Shanghai (2017); Hu Jiemin, Hu Weiyi: Imagination is Reality, ShanghART, Singapore (2017); True Landscapes and Landscaped Gardens, Times Museum, Guangzhou (2016); Familiar Otherness: Art Across Northeast China, Hong Kong Arts Centres (2015); and The Bad Land, Art-Ba-Ba Mobile Space, Shanghai (2012).
Hu Weiyi's Instagram can be found here.
Elaine YJ Zheng | Ocula | 2021