Li Hui’s Sculptures Use Technology to Capture Split-Seconds in Time

Artsy Editorial
May 19, 2015 8:22PM

In his first exhibition at Sandra Gering Inc, the Beijing-born and -based artist Li Hui presents two radical new sculptures. Previous works by Li have used destruction and violence against inanimate objects as metaphors for social, political, and human relations. He has used sophisticated technological devices to bring sculptures to life and to suggest a relation to the human body. “I don’t consciously try to create high technology works,” says Li. “It just works for my aesthetic values.”

Installation view of “Li Hui: Ksana” at Sandra Gering Inc, courtesy of Sandra Gering Inc.

The exhibition’s title, “Ksana,” is the ancient Sanskrit word for an imperceptible span of time. In the works included in the show, images of collision and fracture abound, and Li has attempted to capture the precise moment when two objects meet and damage or even destroy one another. Here, steel mirrors are important materials, and have been carefully splintered so that they maintain their damaged form without falling apart completely, solidifying a moment between wholeness and disintegration—or the impact of art and technology on one another.


Ksana (2015) features a polished stainless steel mirror crushed by a large wooden beam, which spans the entire gallery from wall to wall. The beam appears to be hand-carved, a departure from his formerly techno-centric work in steel, glass, and electronics. Li was trained in industrial and fashion design, and so his work often reflects those fields’ use of elegant solutions to material problems. The beam appears to have bolted from the wall, its pointed end crushing a concave spider web into the center of the mirror. This solidified moment is a third object created by the explosive combination of two distinct forms.

In Broken Heart (2014), a mirrored steel base has been crushed by the impact of a likewise-shattered chunk of black, mirrored steel. The cracks of the black hulk glow red, orange, and yellow, lighted inside by LEDs. The romantic title might be read as the climactic violence wrought both by and on a person suffering from the pain of love. In contrast to Ksana, this sculpture features the improbable balancing of its two large components, and their apparent delicacy, both wounding one another.

Li’s work is remarkable for its skilled fusion of formal and emotive qualities. “The fusion of art and technology must reveal some truth about humanity,” he says, and though his objects do not represent people, humans and human feelings are always brightly present in his work.

—Stephen Dillon

Ksana” is on view at Sandra Gering Inc, New York, May 12–June 27, 2015.

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Artsy Editorial