Press & review

Yuan Xu "Moving Artist"

Still remembering the night I walked onto the train, I saw this unusual scene where Hedy Zhang
was at the corner, painting with her brush and music. She changed the whole space into an
unconventional art land. People on the train were surrounded by large-scale paintings she created
in her past art career hung on the grab trail. The paintings are swaying slightly with the running
train. People on seats are very close to each painting to be able to observe the detail or be
disturbed by the movement of canvas. Passengers walking need to move sideways to pass
through. Some of them were looking around surprisingly, or walking close to Hedy with
curiosity, some felt confused or being poker-faced like a normal New Yorker. I was standing
aside to see all this happening as an informed audience. The whole situation was similar to a
dynamic play in the theater.

The performance art provides a critical perspective to think widely about the current
environment of how the public gets in touch with the art system. Hedy’s gesture with full
concentration was undisturbed by anything happening on the train. It forms the subtle
atmosphere between the serious contemporary art scene and the chaotic daily living landscape.
The art piece is usually installed on the white wall in an accurate location. However, the swaying
of painting between people’s movements brings the painting itself into more active language and
the allowance of getting close to the art which usually is not permitted in a gallery or museum.
People are intrigued to look closely from front to back with more detailed observation, and truly
build a more parallel conversation. The exposed creating process of artwork breaks the gap

between the audience and the identity of the artist. The opportunity to understand the story
behind the scene becomes not just some cold curatorial texts, but the heartfelt physical behavior
in front of the audience.

One thing that makes performance art attractive is the coincidence or unpredictability of the
audience during each time. This time, Hedy Zhang put the audience into a more subjective and
leading place. The audiences can influence each other and behave differently. There is a dancer
who suddenly got on the train with his rap music which New Yorkers normally experience
everyday. The sudden collision between these two types of completely different art is extremely
attractive which can be only seen in this special context constructed by Hedy Zhang. Passengers
are immersive in this integrated world of contemporary fine arts and underground or pop culture.
It is humorous and surprising, but also leading to a more open-minded and ideal art environment.

As the train gradually approached the final station and the performance was coming to an end,
passengers began to leave the carriage. Only the gently swaying giant canvas and the artist, who
was still immersed in the spiritual world, remained. I couldnt help but return to my emotional
side, realizing how fortunate the passengers were to have witnessed this performance art, and I
was also part of it. It felt like Hedy Zhang’s other works, possessing a gentle and gradually
penetrating power that touches the heart. Her language consistently has the strong perspective of
critiquing and challenging the issue of contemporary art and our era. It is a type of energy with a
touchable element yet incisive manner. The contemporary art world is eager to see how this type
of treasurable vitality can be brought with her as a growing artist in the future.
Yuan Xu is an artist, sculptor and curator based in New York. She graduated from Parsons
School of Design for her BFA Degree. As an artist, she attempts to explore inherent connections
between landscape, the human body, and perception through fiber, metal, and other integrated
materials. Xu’s works have been exhibited in New York, Shanghai and Beijing etc, and her
participating projects were selected into The 9th Chengdu Design Week and A4 Art Museum.
Her sculptures were collaborated with multiple fashion photography projects such as Comme
des garçons F/W22 collection X Dover Street Market New York, Feroce Magazine cover page
May Vol.4 2020. As a curator, Xu dedicates to balancing the sensational experience of the
audience and the expression of artists’ identity with aesthetics. She has curated for independent
artists and galleries in New York and Chengdu.