He Xiangyu

1986 China     Biography

Since the early stage on, from A Dialogue between Old Donba and the Chieftain (2008) and Wu He You Zhi Xiang (2009), He Xiangyu has been taking an approach close to the research methods of anthropology. He goes to remote townships and villages in China to find the origins of ancient wisdom that are often left behind or gradually forgotten by his generation. In Cola Project (2009-2010), the artist cooks hundreds tons of coke till boiled, caramelized, and then cool down to crystallized. He further applies the coke crystal grains to develop a series of artwork in which he addresses contradictions and conflicts when eastern and western culture encounter with each other. Such process is very similar to the old Chinese alchemy practice from Qin and Han Dynasty (221 BC – 220 AD). It is aimed to unveil the appearance of objects so that the core essence could be further explored. With a reduction process like this, the artist subtly eliminates the already symbolized and branded pretty image of coke promoted by the globalization of capitalism; the agreeable bubbles of joy and openness that coke always impresses people also entirely disappear in the huge remains of coke that are burnt, decomposed and inorganic. From the experimental approach that He adopts physical method to handle with coke, perhaps one could find similar keen observation ability as like that Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) exploring the relation between appearance and implication on objects. Those inspiring reminders silently exist in the co-existing abruptness between the natural landscape and coke dregs.


Past Exhibitions at Gallery100:
Another Ghost
Memo to the Unknown