Lives and Works: Beijing
Hu Qingyan is a sculptor who works with diverse materials, exploring their different natures and limitations. His works are usually extremely la¬bor-intensive and based on the artist’s research into the field of sculpture. For his ongoing series One Breath he measures the volume of a person’s lungs, then realizes it in the form of a bag made of marble. Hu gathers a loose series of self-portraits under the title Cloud. The artist’s body mass at a specific point in time determined the amount of marble used for the Cloud series, while for One Breath, each person portrayed breathed once into a plastic bag, so that the contents of each individual’s lungs determined the form and size of the sculpture. Artistic concepts, such as the idea of transforming something as extremely ephemeral as human breath into a weighty marble sculpture, connect Hu’s art to American and European Conceptual Art. At the same time the selection of materials and the way the artist uses them in his works relates to the specific cultural context in which his works of art are created. Through his works of art, Hu Qingyan succeeds in questioning our ingrained perceptual and visual habits, while using the means of sculpture to create works that are more than just object-related.
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