This solo exhibition, produced in collaboration with White Cube, coincides with the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia where He Xiangyu is one of four artists to represent China.
He’s dynamic and experimental practice can be seen as both a material testing ground and a conceptual laboratory in which the artist investigates and engages with a variety of personal, social and political subjects.
Lemon Project refers to He’s ongoing artistic research into the use, perception and representation of yellow and lemon across 24 countries including China, Nigeria, New Zealand, Japan and the UK. In this project He shows that the etymology of ‘yellow’ and of ‘lemon’ are entwined historically across cultures, as well as having a symbolism that transcends borders of language, culture and religion.
Through installations, paintings and sculpture the exhibition presents a range of themes and findings from the Lemon Project. Throughout history the colour yellow has been used as a symbol of peace, violence, life and death. Specific examples of use from both East and West include political weapons, border indicators, freedom, liberation and funeral motifs. For example in politics yellow was used in the Umbrella and Sunflower movements in Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as having widespread use for representing liberal parties throughout Europe and South America.
The new film Sylvain (2017-19) presents an alternative and metaphorical discourse about power and control as well as self-identification. In the story, the critical element of a violin – sometimes referred to as the âme, a French word meaning “soul” – has been replaced by a lemon as a mysterious symbol, which leads the protagonist Sylvain to his destiny. With an abstract and disconnecting narrative implying a tension of expecting one’s fate, it navigates through multiple emotional layers constructed by the absurdity of life.