HdM GALLERY presents ‘Birthmark’ – a solo exhibition of the works of Chinese Contemporary artist He An. This is the artist’s second collaboration with HdM GALLERY and his third time exhibiting in Europe.
He An’s ‘Birthmark’ series continues his work creating installations from the light-boxes and neon signage which dominate the urban landscape in his native Wuhan – particularly at night when their theatricality is most arresting. He An uses these lights (often stolen with the acquiescence of the criminal underground of Wuhan) to create his own urban connections. Emotional, theatrical and autobiographical, the artist’s works speak of family, love and loss.
He An’s light-box works are born out of the rapid urbanisation in China’s cities. Most commonly associated with low-end retail advertisement, the neon characters and signs that comprise the body of He An’s work are testament to an overwhelming commercialism in urban China.
The light boxes of the Chinese landscape tend to come in stock shapes, colours, fonts and materials, yet He An seeks to alter the unoriginal aesthetics of these industrial, ready-made products to produce unique and deeply personal pieces. From corrugated cardboard to industrial wool carpets, He An’s works seek to transform industrial material into something far deeper.
Indeed, a number of He An’s works were created following a period of emotional turmoil. They become a very public display of a private emotion – turning dialogue into dramatic installation. Take for example his work ‘He Taoyuan’ which takes as its title the name of the artist’s deceased father. The Chinese characters which make up this work have been dropped from a great height, destroyed, and reconstructed. The work flickers in a way which is reminiscent of respiration, a memorial to the life of He An’s father.
He An’s works are extensively collected and exhibited in a wide range of notable institutions both Chinese and international. Among these are listed Saatchi Gallery (London, U.K), Carnegie Museum of Art, (Pittsburgh, U.S.A), Redtory Museum of Contemporary Art (Guangzhou, CHINA) Australia Centre for Contemporary Art (Melbourne, AUSTRALIA), and CAFA Art Museum (Beijing, CHINA).all images © the gallery and the artist(s)