Xiao-Yuan Hu

(China) b.1977

Lives and works in Beijing

Xiao-Yuan Hu explores the essence of objects and daily life experience through an artistic vocabulary centered on natural materials such as hair, old cloth, discarded wood and raw silk. Hu’s minimal yet highly poetic style finds expression in a wide range of forms, including installation, paintings and video. Since 2008, she has worked primarily with wood, through a perspective of observation and study, in pursuit of a creative energy completely different from that of her earlier works, while also redefining the relationship between object and form.

Hu presents two works from her wood series: Wood Rift and Wood No. 7. In these, Hu attempts to explore the limits of the objects themselves and their limitless nature as standardized forms. This idea is particularly clear in Wood No. 7, in which she has painted a natural wooden texture in ink onto semi-transparent raw silk, and then affixed the silk to a piece of wood. Because the impact of time has been incorporated into the process of the work, it not only highlights the simple character of wood, but also imposes the will of the artist and external environmental elements upon the wood’s intrinsic properties, revealing latent forms within the material awaiting development. This use of materials, time and artistic ingenuity is also evident in Wood Rift. At the center of this piece is a small elevated ridge, formed when a damp climate caused natural fissures that subsequently pressed in on each other. The artist unintentionally left a piece of raw silk on the surface of the wood, and over time it transformed the structural vocabulary of the wood.

These two works offer viewers new definitions of two-dimensional painting, three-dimensional sculpture and the latent qualities of materials. In Bug’s Handwriting and Bug’s Traces, Hu attempts to break from the confines of traditional ink painting to depict a contemporary Chinese-style abstract image landscape, by using the seemingly random marks left by insects after being dipped in ink. The black walnut display case used in Bug’s Handwriting conveys the poetic interaction between the artist and the garden insects. Bug’s Traces, meanwhile, employs an installation of video and wood to document the creative process behind this abstract ink painting.

Hu Xiaoyuan graduated from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2002. She has taken part in a number of major exhibitions, including “Decorum: Carpets and Tapestries by Artists” at the Power Station of Art, Shanghai, and Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2014); “My Generation: Young Chinese Artists” at the Tampa Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg, Florida (2014); Art Basel Hong Kong (2013); “ON︱OFF: China’s Young Artists in Concept and Practice,” Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2013); “The Ungovernables,” New Museum Triennial, New York (2012); “Unfinished Country: New Video from China,” Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (2012); and the 12th Documenta, Kassel, Germany (2007). Hu is currently preparing to take part in the exhibition “Inside” at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.

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