Arts preview: He Xingyou’s photo exhibition counts the price of progress | South China Morning Post

Arts preview: He Xingyou’s photo exhibition counts the price of progress

Vanessa Yung


Contemporary by Angela Li


Everything starts with something small. Just like a photograph is made up of tiny pixels, nature consists of omnipresent, vital components that He Xingyou considers crucial. The photographer aims to show how urban living and reckless construction are destroying our environment.

In his latest solo exhibition at Contemporary by Angela Li gallery, He showcases 10 works that depict our destruction of nature. They feature contemporary landscapes, which He captured in places such as Fuxing town in his home city of Chongqing and Lanzhou in Gansu province. They cover everything from landfills to mountain digging and abandoned sites in a serene, scenic style.

The idea is to create what He describes as "a sense of desolate beauty" to highlight the melancholy. He began the project in 1998, but before developing his current technique in 2002, the artist thought his works had failed to achieve what he wanted because the traditional method of obtaining a panoramic view with a wide-angle lens meant objects at each end are smaller and distorted.

He now spends at least two hours obtaining several hundred images to be combined into one single piece, but digital technology allows him to create a fresh perspective whereby everything on the periphery is properly portrayed.

"I want my audience to stop overlooking every single blade of grass, flower and pebble around us as they are all part of nature," says He.

"We can all see when a tall tree has fallen, but not when pebbles are shattered or flowers cropped. They are usually too small to be spotted so they fail to arouse anything and people don't realise how much is ruined. But they are what nature is based on and I want to remind people that we human beings are tiny grains just like any pebble or flower."

His most representative work features Yan'an, where more than 30 mountains were levelled to develop a new town.

"Human beings are too greedy. They totally ignore nature - and this is happening all over the world. Human beings and nature have to coexist. We should develop, not destroy," says He.


Contemporary by Angela Li, 248 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Monday-Saturday 10am-6.30pm. Ends March 9. Inquiries: 3571 8200



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