He Xiangyu's experimental practice can be seen as both a material testing ground and conceptual laboratory that investigates diverse personal, social and political themes.
Part of a generation of Chinese artists who grew up during a period of rapid urbanisation he has said that “I'm seeking to adjust and guide people's perception through the material changes within the object”, using a range of media to reflect on philosophic ideas such as the increasing materialism and obsolescence of our society as well as the effects of the institutionalisation and commercialisation of contemporary art.
His solo shows include Turtle, Lion and Bear, Qiao Space (2017); He Xiangyu (2017) at White Space Beijing ; New Directions: He Xiangyu (2015), at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), Beijing. His works have been exited in group shows that include Remembering Tomorrow: Artworks and Archives (2018), White Cube, Hong Kong; Memory Palace (2018), White Cube, London; Art Patrons (2018), Qiao Space, Shanghai; The God of Small Things (2018), Leo Gallery, Shanghai; L'Été plus vaste que l'Empire... (2017), Wentrup, Berlin - Kreuzberg; Juxtapoz x Superflat (2016), Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouve; Art Basel 2016 , SCAI The Bathhouse, Tokyo and many more.
He Xiangyu’s Wisdom Teeth, besides the use it makes of bronze and gold as materials, it is most critically defined by its gold-plating handicraft. The artist spent a year collecting over a thousand actual wisdom teeth; then, through moulding, casting and polish-ing, and the use of traditional gilding methods, he gave them new forms — and scattered them to the ground like seeds. In order to achieve a visual feeling of weight, He enquired about a complex gilding technique (liujin), which is now fading out from the tradition and is only preserved in the production of Tibetan Buddhist statues. This particular technique made the gold penetrate the surface of the bronze, and enabled the artist to maximise the visual density of every single tooth. Each of them stands on its own, pure and solid.