The Rock Touring Around Great Britain
Chambers Fine Art is pleased to announce the opening on November 8, 2007 of The Rock Touring Around Great Britain by He Yunchang. Although his work has been seen in group exhibitions, this will be the first solo exhibition in the United States of an artist who is now recognized as China’s leading performance artist. Born in Yunnan, China in 1967, he graduated from the Art Institute of Yunnan in 1991 and currently lives and works in Beijing.
While most of the artists who practiced performance art in the 1990s have moved on to other media, He Yunchang has continued to conceive increasingly extreme performances in which physical endurance is pushed to the extreme. In his introduction to the catalogue Andrew Brewerton points out that each work is preceded by “protracted deliberation – two years being by no means an uncommon gestation period for a fully rendered and irreducible idea.” Memorable examples in the last decade include Wrestling: One and One Hundred, 2001, in which the artist wrestled with one hundred persons in a row; Eyesight Test, 2003, in which he fixed his eyes on a 10,000w light for 60 minutes and Casting, 2004 in which he was cemented into a concrete block for 24 hours. Having been witnessed by few people, these challenging performances are preserved in memorable sequences of photographs.
The Rock Touring Around Great Britain, the focus of the current exhibition, involved a walking circumambulation of Great Britain from September 23, 2006 to June 14, 2007. Starting from the hamlet of Rock, Northumberland, the artist walked to the nearby town of Boulmer where he selected a rock which he then carried counterclockwise until he returned it to the precise location from which it was taken. The photographs that follow the artist on his journey are strikingly beautiful in their sensitive portrayal of the constantly changing patterns of English weather but as he commented at the time the work was primarily “an attempt to represent the iron will of an individual and the living conditions of his being with simple and pure methods.” Accompanying the photographs is a series of oil paintings based on the journey, He Yunchang’s return to the medium in which he graduated in 1991.