Chinese artist He Yunchang (b.1967) is arguably the leading performance artist presently living and working in China. He graduated from Central Yunnan Art Institute, China, in oil painting in 1991, but made a name for himself over the past two decades with a series of exceptional performances that have tested the artist’s strength and endurance. Whether He Yunchang has cast himself inside concrete for 24 hours, tried to ‘cut a river in half’ with his own blood while suspended from a crane, stood in the middle of the Niagara Falls, or - most dramatically - surgically removed a rib from his own body as part of a multifarious art performance piece: nothing seems too difficult or dramatic as a vehicle of expression. However, what at first might seem like courageous stunts quickly reveal themselves to be deeply analytical and highly referential works of art, which combine existential thought with traditional Chinese mythology, legends, and ancient philosophy.
He Yunchang: “I feel that China is a very complex society, one in which it is important to use your body and your intellect so you can stop and face its reality. Highlighting the body in this way, as separate, is also important because, historically Chinese people have not endowed the physical body with value, rather they have valued the spirit of the Chinese people, as a collective. Contemporary China is much more individual in its thinking, so it’s a pull between the two. By putting pressure on an idea about myself (my intellect) and my own body, I can make it into something much larger .”
He Yunchang has had several internationally acclaimed solo exhibitions, including Everybody, Feizi Gallery, Brussels, 2013; The Wings of Live Art - He Yunchang, Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne, Lucerne, 2010, and Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne, Beijing, 2009; The Ability to Exist, Galeri Nasional Indonesia, Jakarta, 2008; and Rock Touring Around Great Britain, Chambers Fine Art, New York, 2007.
He Yunchang lives and works in Beijing.