Going Outside: Kunlin He and Yi Xin Tong


Yi Xin Tong, Animalistic Punk Skate, 2018

NanHai Art presents:

Going Outside: Kunlin He and Yi Xin Tong 湘·渔隐

A duo exhibition of works by Kunlin He and Yi Xin Tong.

Exhibition Dates: September 6, 2018 – October 13, 2018

Opening Reception: September 6, 2018 5:30-7:30pm


Going Outside is a duo exhibition of work by Kunlin He (b. 1992, Nanchang, China; lives San Francisco, CA) and Yi Xin Tong (b. 1988, Lushan, China; lives Brooklyn, NY). These two exceptionally talented artists blend a variety of art genres from experimental documentary, music video and tapestry, to drone imagery, graffiti and Shan Shui drawing into expansive multi-media presentations. Their narrative and conceptual references are fluid, open-ended, transcultural and transhistorical. He’s and Tong’s resolve to find their own way and resist systems of control is bolstered by examples from the distant Chinese past: from the Xiaoxiang poetry and painting that pictured a retreat from civic life as an act of disagreement with the policies of the governing powers; to the benefits of reclusion, such as a solitary fisherman seeking solace in his boat, representative of the Confucian practice of withdrawal as a moral objection to the status quo. Yet, while there are layers of distancing in these works, there is also a deep desire to participate in a generation hyper-connected to the pulse of global culture—especially current theories on ecology and vernacular forms of youth media. Their work’s hybrid and collage aesthetic reveal qualities of agency and subjectivity born from the realities of their lives in the USA, and nurtured by childhood memories in China.

He and Tong strive towards liberation from constraints in very contemporary forms—with special attention to creating images of documented and invented landscapes marred by human interventions yet still regenerative and alive. Incorporating new digital technologies of the gaze into his explorations of the environment, He overlays fictions onto GPS-oriented scenes of place from the fire-destroyed semi-rural neighborhoods of California’s Marin County to a fictional biographical tour of his home town. Tong’s digital images document his new fascination for the fishing culture at little known sites along the shores of New York City. In both cases unruly, marginal and ravaged natural sites become symbols for the challenges of life’s journey. He’s and Tong’s works, while filled with feelings of displacement and a yearning to go outside and explore, refuse to give up on a sense of cultural belonging.


About the Artists

Kunlin He 何昆霖

Born in 1992 in Nanchang, China, Kunlin He currently lives in San Francisco, CA. His work focuses on redefining Asian identities, territories, borders, nationalisms, as well as Chinese masculinity in traditional art and philosophy, in his visual and media-based conceptual art. He is also interested in revealing the hybridity and heterogeneity of Chinese identities in the context of globalization, using the resources of East Asian traditional cultures and culture studies. 

He received a BFA in Environmental Design from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China in 2014, an MFA from San Francisco Art Institute in 2016 and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2018. He is a graduate fellow and affiliated artist at Headlands Center for the Arts (2017-2019). His work has been included in exhibitions at the Drawing Center, Headlands Center for the Arts, Seattle Art Fair, Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, Pennsylvania State University, among others. He has participated in several residencies including Ox-Bow School of Art; MASS MoCA; Atlantic Center for the Arts; Elsewhere Museum; and Santa Fe Art Institute. He is also a regular contributor to Chinese Photography magazine.  

Yi Xin Tong

Born in 1988 in Lushan, China, Yi Xin Tong is currently a New York-based artist, musician, and amateur fisherman. He received his BFA from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver in 2012 and MFA from New York University in 2014. Tong uses sculpture, installation, web project, video, and sound to create poetic and seemingly innocuous work to allude to the contradictions in life and to express dissent. His experience living on the outskirts of New York City lead him to a long-term multimedia fishing project that challenges the iconic image of that city as the pinnacle of human civilization.

Recent solo exhibitions include NARS Foundation, Vanguard Gallery, Katzman Contemporary, group exhibitions include Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, MOCA Shanghai, CAFA Art Museum, Long March Space, Alyssa Davis Gallery, Chambers Fine Art, and Hanart TZ Gallery. Tong has received a Canada Council for the Arts Project Grant and Joan Mitchell Foundation Scholarship.

About the Curator

Betti-Sue Hertz is a contemporary art curator whose work focuses on the intersection of aesthetics and social issues. She has extensive experience in Chinese contemporary Art, having organized major exhibitions in her role as director of visual arts at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, and as curator of contemporary art at San Diego Museum of Art. Hertz was a curator in residence at HOW Art Museum, Shanghai in 2018.

About NanHai Art

NanHai Art is an art gallery that specializes in Chinese contemporary art. It focuses on introducing the artworks that reflect the unique aesthetics of Chinese art while transcending cultural and artistic boundaries with a contemporary sensibility. Currently located in Millbrae, California, it provides an easy access for the Greater San Francisco and Silicon Valley audience.

For more information: www.nanhaiart.com



NanHai Art

Gallery 500

500 Broadway

Millbrae, CA 94030

NanHai Art is a 5 min. walk from the Millbrae BART and Caltrain stations, for drivers take the Millbrae Ave. exit on US-101.


Monday - Friday, 11 AM-4 PM, and by appointment

Also opens on October 6 and October 13, 11 AM-4 PM


Yanzhi Wang | NanHai Art


(650) 259-2100