Rooted in sociology and anthropology, Yu Feifei’s art practice tries to explore the individual cultural identity and to analyze its formation and evolution. Her work revolves around both the self-questioning that aims at developing visual language and the re-discovery of secular and mundane scenes, putting forward new visual possibilities from the perspective of the contrast and counterbalance between desire and power.
Yu Feifei was born in Guangzhou in 1988. After graduating from China Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2012, she studied further in Royal College of Art in England and obtained her MA degree in 2016, and during the period she also went to the Ruskin School of Art at the University of Oxford in England as a visiting student.
Yu Feifei, for a long time at work, has done a great amount of visual and theoretical review and study of “Gaze”. She began by using her work as an outlet for her interpretation of the male gaze, but, as we can find in her systematic creation an increase in the use of artifacts and in the number of images with historical significance in later practice, she’s become eager to compare history and the current times and to question what’s in between. The “Gaze” here is not only a description that implies something inexplicit but also unavoidably encompasses a suspended ambiguity. It can be an intent state of looking, a transcendence of the looking in daily life, turning into a suspended practice, a state of detachment; it can also be a state of amazingly indifferent observing so as to fixate or capture something, and the subject in the state can neither move nor settle, like an instant that cannot take root. And what’s more commonly agreed is that “Gaze” is an attitude of class-based judgment, a kind of bothering and denying. What Yu Feifei tries to discuss in her work is the uncertainty the and ambiguity of the gaze, and, by looking into the chronical and temporal features accompanied by “Gaze”, she explores the possibility of their emergence.
Visually, Yu Feifei’s works have stunningly impressed us with their use of classical statues. The reason may be that classical statues are the most exquisite examples as they are the tangible marks of a people and a culture and the tangible and abstract ideals of man—the ideals that the people and the culture can draw out of callous and formless materials. And as early as in the 5th century BC, the naked body in classical sculpture was proved by ancient Greeks as an art form –“nude”, so “nudes” were also classified as a form that can be seriously adopted and intellectualized in art-making. Various expressive approaches allow Yu Feifei to visually break, arrange, juxtapose and extract from sculptures of different times in her art practice. In this way, viewers will automatically see them as human heritage without wondering about their origins since now they have been endowed with greater openness and wider directionality. And now these picturized stone statues and their naked postures have been stripped of every intention of their original makers, be it narrative, anatomical, classifying, semantic, symbolic or sanctifying. They end up more like a real pure thing or in their most figurative form: a naked body. With the opportunity generated on this basis for creation, the artist has learnt gradually about how she should work on these visual materials since she started her studying through the construction mechanism of cultural history and canons along with her introspection and self-understanding.