Artist Talk: Yu Hong Lei

Since my first solo exhibition in 2011, I have always juxtaposed static sculptures and moving images on any presentations. They constitute a duo performance or can be conceived as the intersection of roads when overlooking a map.

As our lives are increasingly encroached by moving images in the screen age, filming devices and editing tools have become readily available. Hence the moving image has naturally become part of my work. The fluidity of video work both expands the boundaries of my creativity and makes up for the sculpture medium’s shortcomings. Sculpture and the moving image are like branches and leaves of the same tree. They exist independently and form a whole at the same time. They allow my work to be more than a single thread. Different media can open up other dimensions of expression to portray the abstract world of perception in richer and accurate manners. Whether it is the moving image or sculpture, one’s practice often begins with the medium’s characteristics. I am always trying to figure out how to transform an idea into reality in my everyday life and adopt the most suitable medium to constitute the expression. I hope the materiality of the final work would channel its conceptual drive. In other words, the power and depth of artwork are often not attained through deductive logic or gathering of information but render the material with the language of sculpture and the montage of moving images with its pictorial and audible relationships. Details then become a priority and the center of communication rather than information. I want to avoid social attributes in a work of art and blurs its temporal context. I deliberately remove context and textual descriptions so that I could convey my understanding of the world “silently.”

The finished works often reflect aspects of my daily experiences, including passing clouds, a shape, the texture of my clothes or the changing weather, the winding road and the marks on the wall, the view through a window from the interior, vague reality and unspeakable experience of my existence, and so on. These finished works are a composite of the intersection of matter, reality, and experience. I try to avoid making didactic works; to do so, I have to free my mind from distractions and confront the unfathomable satisfaction and joy. When we stand in front of an ancient sculpture: there is no meaning other than a smile. It embodies a fleeting perfection, which is what I understand of art.

These finished works manifest an encounter between man and object. They are also like a stand-in for me, expressing the absence of my subjectivity through representation to complete the undisclosed part of me in the real world. Akin to the initial idea I had when I first entered this profession, making art can transcend worldly values. This feeling of detachment from the world is blissful and challenging at the same time. The difficulty lies in various levels of rupture of such separation, and only those who make art would genuinely understand this rupture. Simultaneously, the fracture represents the contemporaneity in art, which constantly challenges an artist’s practice.


Yu Honglei

Yu Honglei (b. 1984) lives and works in Beijing. Yu Honglei draws upon wide visual vernacular from visual cultures of Chinese urban landscapes and poetic moments in his personal narratives. Yu Honglei keenly observes the translation, transposition and circulation of images, by weaving through the physical and the digital realm of image production. In his interest in plasticity of cultural knowledge and aesthetics, what arises is a constellation of hermeneutic and polysemic output, executed through highly personal artistic discourse.
Yu Honglei’s work has been shown internationally at UCCA, Beijing (solo; 2019);Antenna Space, Shanghai (solo; 2019) K11 Atelier, Hong Kong (2019); Powerlong Musem, Shanghai (2019); Hudson Valley MOCA, Peekskill (2019); Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler,Berlin (Solo; 2018); Belgrade Biennial (2018); Daimler Contemporary, Berlin (2017); Carl Kostyál, London, (solo; 2017); Fondazione Baruchello, Rome (2017); chi K11 Art Museum, Shanghai (2017); ZKM Center for art and media, Karlsruhe, Germany (2017); Long March Space, Beijing, China (2017);; Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam (2016); Museo Pino Pascali, Polignano (2016); Telescope, Beijing (solo; 2015); Spring Workshop, Hong Kong (2015); Rubell Family Collection, San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas (2015); Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai (2015); Magician Space, Beijing (solo; 2013).

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