He An is one of China’s foremost conceptual artists with a practice that includes installation, sculpture, photography and performance. His works largely reflect the physical and psychological emotional shock brought about by dramatic economic changes to Chinese cities through mass migration and urbanisation. Using lightboxes, billboards and neon, He An has built up a complex language of urban symbols as his artistic language. By appropriating the illuminated street signs from his native city of Wuhan, for example, often gained with the complicity of the local underworld ‘mafia’ organisations, a further exploration of the prohibitions and taboos of contemporary Chinese culture is at play. Likewise, appropriated ideograms, lifted from source in whatever state he finds them, are used to create the names of people who are dear to him. He An's work can be understood as an obsessive, autobiographical interrogation, one straddling a fine line between illegality and investigation.
He An, born in 1970, Wuhan China lives and works in Beijing. His works have been exhibited in institutions including Tate Liverpool, United Kingdom, Australia Centre for Contemporary Art, Carnegie Museum of Art, USA and the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, China.