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PHOTOFAIRS Shangai : Exposure Award 2020 : Guanyu Xu


PHOTOFAIRS presents an exhibition of works by US based Chinese artist Guanyu Xu (Gaotai Gallery, Urumqi), this year’s recipient of the Exposure Award powered by MODERN EYE. Exhibited alongside it in the Modern Studio space is the work of runner-up Sameer Twade (UP Gallery, Taipei). A digital presentation by a selection of artists that submitted to this year’s Exposure Award is available from 11 September via

In support and acknowledgement of the challenges faced by the artistic community this year, the 2020 edition of the Award includes an extended presentation of artists coinciding with a weekend of photography exhibitions and events in Shanghai.

Launched in 2019 the Award provides a complimentary exhibition platform to any gallery with a solo presentation of experimental work by an artist pushing the boundaries of photography. Titled Temporarily Censored Home Xu’s work features photographs of his parent’s home in Beijing covered in intricately layered photographic collages. Secretly installed and taken down each day while his parents were out of the house, these collages reflect parts of Xu’s identity unknown to his family and comprise family pictures, adverts and portraits of the artist with other gay men. Through these temporary installations Xu reclaims the conservative home he grew up in as a queer space of rebellion and freedom.

Commenting on his work Guanyu Xu said: / was born and raised in a conservative family in Beijing, where expressions of overt non-heteronormative behaviour were forbidden. My father is a military officer and my mother is a civil servant. Both of them still do not know I’m gay. Growing up in China with limited representation of LGBTQ people, I turned my attention to Western films and fashion [. .. ] the juxtaposition of torn pages from fitm and fashion magazines that attracted me during my teenage years and staged self-portraits with other gay men in the U.S creates a self-reflective relationship between the image production of power and my investigation of the intersectionality of race and sexuality.

Discussing the work of Guanyu Xu the judging panel commented: Every artist has a “point of origin” for their work, be it experiential, psychological or even subconscious. It is impressive to discover how artists communicate these personal narratives with a creative visual language in unpredictable ways. In Guanyu Xu’s work a large number of images and physical spaces are juxtaposed, interspersed and nested to form a series of sophisticated and complex installation of photographs that collapse the boundaries between time, space, and dimensions. His focus on the conflicts between individuals, family and society raises questions not only around identity and gender but also about race and culture.

In the work of runner-up Sameer Twade, Dialogues of an Introvert, everyday objects, sculptures and miniature sets are featured in a series of fantastical photography that visualise the human psyche and look to draw attention to the separation and, at times, feelings of alienation between the self and the outside world.



Guanyu Xu (b.1993 Beijing) is an artist currently based in Chicago. Guanyu Xu’s photographic interventions offer an exploration of his complex personal history and identity; born and raised in China, Xu moved to the US in 2014. His work bridges the gap between the personal and political, highlighting the disparities and connections between the two nations, in which his intersectional experience of the US meets his conservative familial experience of China.


Visitor Information

Venue: Modern Studio, Building 7,10 Middle Jianguo Road, Shanghai Dates: 11 – 20 September 2020

Opening Times: Tuesday- Sunday, 11:00 – 20:00; closed on Mondays

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