Hua Gallery is delighted to host the first-ever UK solo exhibition of Chinese contemporary artist Xu Yong, one of the creators of 798 Art District in Beijing. This show presents a retrospective of his photographic works ‘101 Portraits of Hutong’ which capture the ancient beauty of the historical narrow lanes, Hutongs. This work has been collected by several renowned figures, perhaps most notably by George W. Bush, and continues to stir up interest between collectors.
Hua Gallery specialises in the exciting space that is Chinese contemporary art. Hua Gallery represents and exhibits cutting edge, stimulating works by established contemporary Chinese artists, as well as emerging contemporary Chinese artists who are not as yet internationally recognised. Situated on the Albion Riverside, Hua Gallery is London’s only Chinese contemporary art gallery with a permanent exhibition space of this size and scale.
One of the pioneers of 798 Art District in Beijing, Xu Yong, through his photographic series ‘101 Portraits of Hutong’ captured the beauty of the traditional Chinese narrow lanes, or Hutongs, which have been systematically demolished in the name of rampant modernity. Once graceful and refined lanes, the Hutongs are a symbol of ancient Chinese culture, and are rapidly vanishing due to the destructive process of Beijing’s urban development.
In the 1980’s Xu Yong started a campaign to preserve the uniqueness of these historical sites. Despite the government only wanting to display modern and Western architecture to foreigners, the 1990s saw him succeed in organising tours in old Beijing quarters to allow people to glimpse a breath of ancient culture.
Through these photographs, Xu Yong captures fragments of a disappearing reality. His images depict the ephemeral charm of the old lanes covered by snow, washed by rain, and delicately shining under the sun. Working in black and white, Xu Yong deftly reflects the loneliness of the hutongs’ inhabitants as well as of the artist himself, who, in front of their destruction, could only reveal the poetry disclosed by these sites, grasping their fleeting beauty in a single picture.
101 Portraits of Hutong presents itself as a precious testimony of a lost past, bringing to light memories bearing the melancholy of the passage of time.
Duration: 23 Jan-12 March 2013 (Mon-Fri: 9.30 am – 6 pm, Sat: 11am – 6pm)
Location: Unit 7B, G/F, Albion Riverside, 8 Hester Road, Battersea, London, SW11 4AX