New Directions: He Xiangyu

Ullens Center for Contemporary Art

2015.6.11 - 2015.8.9 Long Gallery

The series “Everything we create is not ourselves” is the most important component of
He Xiangyu’s (b. 1986) ongoing Palate Project. Now based in Beijing and Berlin, the artist
recently settled temporarily in Pittsburgh, where the language barrier and the slow pace
of daily life prompted him to begin an inward journey by transferring the feeling of his
tongue against his palate onto paper

In the years since 2012, He Xiangyu has moved from
the emphasis on social systems and symbolic production that characterizes his earlier
massive installations Coca Cola Project (2009-2011) and Tank Project (2011-2013), toward
the expressive possibilities of physical experience.

These six groups of drawings span the three years during which He Xiangyu made these
daily assignment-like renderings: from the earliest efforts which attempt to represent
the roof of his mouth in linear outlines that evoke anatomical sketches (16-1); progressing
toward experimental, broad strokes of color and loose contours (11-1); moving into bright,
emotionally charged color fields of light and dark yellow (130-1, 72-1); and finally to the
most recent works in which emotion gives way to restrained composition (68-3, 68-4).

He Xiangyu (b. 1986, Liaoning province) graduated from the Oil Painting Department of Shenyang Normal University and is currently based in Beijing and Berlin. Having first garnered attention for large-scale works like Coca Cola Project and Tank Project, He Xiangyu continues to defy commonplace notions carried toward young Chinese artists through a diverse body of works encompassing sculpture, painting, and performance.

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