Active online as a media artist, blogger, activist and programmer, aaajiao is the virtual persona of Shanghai-based artist Xu Wenkai, who offline is celebrated as a founder of co-working project Xindanwei—which tests a new way of nomadic living and working in cosmopolitan Shanghai—and as an inspiring teacher of New Media art.Born in 1984 in one of China’s oldest cities, Xi’an, aaajiao’s art and works are marked by a strong dystopian awareness—his year of birth being the synonym of George Orwell’s classic allegorical novel—, literati spirits and sophistication. Many of aaajiao’s works speak to new thinkings, controversies and phenomenon around the Internet, with specific projects focusing on the processing of data, the blogsphere and China’s Great Fire Wall. aaajiao’s recent projects extend his practice to various disciplines (among them architecture, electronic music, performance, product design, and medicine) to capture the pulse of the young generation consuming cyber technology and living in social media.

aaajiao’s work has been featured in numerous exhibition around the world: for instance: The 3rd Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennale, OCT-Loft, Shenzhen (2017); Temporal Turn: Art and Speculation in Contemporary Asia, Spencer Museum of Art, Kansas (2016); Take Me (I’m Yours) (curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Jens Ho mann and Kelly Taxter), Jewish Museum, New York (2016); Overpop, Yuz Museum, Shanghai (2016); Hack Space (curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Amira Gad), K11 Art Foundation Pop-up Space, Hong Kong (2016); “Globale: Global Control and Censorship”, ZKM | Centre for Art and Media, Karlsruhe (2015); Thingworld International Triennial of New Media Art, The National Art Museum of China, Beijing (2014); The West Bund Architecture and Contemporary Art Biennale, Shanghai (2013); One World Exposition – Chinese Art in the Age of New Media, Videotage, Hong Kong (2011); and Transmediale, Berlin (2010). His solo exhibition includes: Remnants of an Electronic Past, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Manchester (2016); OCAT Contemporary Art Terminal Xi’an, Xi’an (2016), among others. He was awarded the Art Sanya Awards in 2014 Jury Prize and was nominated for the first edition of OCAT-Pierre Huber Art Prize in 2014.

aaajiao (Xu Wenkai) was born in 1984 in Xi’an, and later moved to Shanghai, where he continues to live and work. aaajiao is one of China’s foremost media artists, bloggers and free culture developers. In 2003, he established sound art website,, and in 2006 he founded the Chinese take on the blog We Make Money Not Art: We Need Money Not Art. He is devoted to Processing, an open source visual programming software, Dorkbot, a non-profit initiative for creatives, and eventstructure, a Shanghai-based interdisciplinary centre for art, media technology and academic research. In his work, aaajiao focuses largely on the use of data and its various forms of display, and how meaning is understood through the process of transforming the movement from reality to data, and back again. His most significant aesthetic contribution to new media in China is a social one, acting as a vector for the interpretation and communication of both international and local software usage trends in artistic practices.

Download the complete artist biography.

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aaajiao, "Observed", 2015, Inkjet print, acrylic case, 150 x 150 cm

aaajiao, "Karesansui", 2014, Sponges, metal insert, Dimension variable

aaajiao, "Karesansui", 2014, Sponges, metal insert, Dimension variable

aaajiao, "Obj 4", 2014, LCD screen, wood frame Installation: 16.5 x 24.5 x 6.5 cm, Video 8 min in loop

aaajiao, "Obj 1", 2014, LCD screen, wood fittings, Size variable, Video 8 min in loop

aaajiao, "Obj 1", 2014, LCD screen, wood fittings, Size variable, Video 8 min in loop

aaajiao, "The Screen Generation", 2013-14, Site-specific installation, algorithmic video, metal structure, Dimension variable

aaajiao, "The Screen Generation", 2013-14, Site-specific installation, algorithmic video, metal structure, Dimension variable

aaajiao, "The Screen Generation", 2013-14, Site-specific installation, algorithmic video, metal structure, Dimension variable

aaajiao, "The Screen Generation", 2013-14, Site-specific installation, algorithmic video, metal structure, Dimension variable

aaajiao, "Meta", 2013, LCD screen, wood frame, electronic components, Installation: 42.5 x 28 x 4.5 cm, Video: 12 min 23 sec in loop

aaajiao, "Meta", 2013, LCD screen, wood frame, electronic components, Installation: 42.5 x 28 x 4.5 cm, Video: 12 min 23 sec in loop

aaajiao, "Gfwlist", 2010, Corian, thermal printer module, thermal paper, 76 x 30 x 280 cm

aaajiao, "Gfwlist", 2010, Detail, Installation, 76 x 30 x 280 cm

aaajiao, "BlogArchaeological", 2010, Vitrine, electronic balances, SD memory cards with archives of screenshot and html files from everyday updates of between 1999 and 2010, 240 x 150 x 40 cm


For more works and projects by the artist, download the portfolio in pdf.

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“The 3rd Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennale”, OCT-Loft, Shenzhen, 2017
“Heavy Artillery”, White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney, Australia, 2016
“Take Me (I’m Yours)”, Jewish Museum, New York, USA, 2016
“Overpop”, YUZ Museum, Shanghai, China, 2016
“aaajiao: Remnants of an Electronic Past” (solo), OCAT Contemporary Art Terminal Xi’an, Xi’an, China, 2016
“aaajiao: Remnants of an Electronic Past” (solo), Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Manchester, UK, 2016
“Hack Space”, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Amira Gad, K11 Art Foundation Pop-up Space, Hong Kong, 2016
“Globale: Global Control and Censorship”, ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany, 2015
“Alias: aaajiao” (solo), Leo Xu projects, Shanghai, China, 2015
“The 2nd ‘CAFAM Future’ Exhibition: Observer – Creator · The Reality Representation of Chinese Young Art”, Central Academy of Fine Arts Art Museum, Beijing, China, 2015
“The Screen Generation @ 9m²-Museum” (solo), 9m²-Museum (Goethe Open Space), Shanghai, China, 2014

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Artnow by Noblesse, “AAAJIAO: The Crisis of Individuals in the Digital Age”, by Mao Judan, Issue 05, December 2016 [download pdf]
Artsy, “Art-World Insiders Select Art Basel in Miami Beach’s Must-See Works”, by Molly Gottschalk, December 2016 [download pdf]
Artforum, “Aaajiao: Remnants Of An Electronic Past”, by Zhu He, July, 2016 [download pdf]
Artsy, “20 Chinese Emerging Artists You Should Know”, by Frances Arnold, July, 2016 [download pdf]
Vice, “Aaajiao Created A Consumed Internet Ruins”, by Sherry, July, 2016 [download pdf]
Leap, “Metaphysical Questions About ‘Remnants Of An Electronic Past’”, July, 2016 [download pdf]
Zao Jiu, “Aaajiao: VR Is Not Fresh, It Decreases The Imagination”, by Nuan Da Ren, July, 2016 [download pdf]
Art Review Asia, “Untitled”, by Edward Sanderson, Issue 2, Spring, 2016 [download pdf]
K11 Artoid, “Art Basel Hong Kong Highlights”, Issue 7, 2015 [download pdf]
Harper’s Bazaar Art, “Both Artist And Internet Aborigine”, by Nuo Yi, Issue 371, September, 2015 [download pdf]
The Bund, “Find My Methodology After Burning The Fantasy”, by Han Jian, Issue 655, August, 2015 [download pdf]
Art China, “Blue Is The Color Acquiesced By Computer”, by Chen Zian, Issue 112, April, 2015 [download pdf]
Art World, “Wander”, by Wang Yiquan, Issue 293, February, 2015 [download pdf]
Modern Weekly, “Deduce ‘Alias aaajiao’”, by Yan Bing, Issue 842, February, 2015 [download pdf]
Numéro, “A Mixture of the Tangible and the Intangible”, by Yu Bingxia, February, 2015 [download pdf]
ART289, “Aaajiao, From Creator To New Media Artist”, by Qian Qian, Issue 3, January, 2015 [download pdf]
Art China, “COSMOS at Shanghai 21st Minsheng Art Museum”, by Bai Jiafeng, Issue 110, January, 2015 [download pdf]
Kleidoscope, “He Found The Cycle of Piracy – Sharing – Reinventing Generated A New Circle of Creation”, by Leo Xu, Launch Issue, January, 2015 [download pdf]
Kleidoscope, “AAAJIAO”, by Leo Xu, January, 2015 [download pdf]
The Bund, “Watching the Scenery Through the Vanity”, by Agnès, January, 2015 [download pdf]
Iart, “Xu Wenkai: The Screen Generation”, by Wang Zhen, January, 2014 [download pdf]
The Bund, “The Generation Modulated and Demodulated by Digits”, by Mu Yu, Issue 576, January, 2014 [download pdf]
Randian, “The Static Generation”, by Iona Whittaker, January, 2014 [download pdf]

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Interviewed by The Creators Project, at aaajiao’s studio., Jan 2013.

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Gabriel Lester, Dwelling Kappiri Spirits, 2016

Kochi-Muziris Biennale:
Forming in the Pupil of an Eye
December 12th, 2016 through March 29th, 2017 


Gabriel Lester is featured among 97 artists who have been invited to create new works in this year’s Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the largest contemporary art biennial in South Asia. Curated by the eminent Indian artist Sudarshan Shetty, the third edition of the Biennale is titled Forming in the Pupil of an Eye. The Biennale will run from December 12, 2016 until March 29, 2017.
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He An:
Do You Think That You Can Help Her Brother?
February 11th, 2017 through April 23rd, 2017 
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)
111 Sturt Street, Southbank VIC 3006, Australia


He An’s neon light installation, Do You Think You Can Help Her Brother?, will be presented on the northern façade of ACCA’s iconic architecture as a keynote public project for Asia TOPA, comprised of Chinese characters gleaned from shopfronts and various sites throughout the city of Beijing, telling a dark story about love, desire and power in.

Drawn from popular news stories and online social media, Do You Think You Can Help Her Brother? combines found texts to create a narrative poem that relays the experience of marginalized labour workers, popular Chinese novels, the sex industry and criminal underground networks in Chinese society.
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Nina Canell: Reflexology

November 9th, 2016 through January 15th, 2017
Opening reception: Wednesday, November 9th, 5-8pm

Nina Canell: “Reflexology” is the first solo exhibition of Berlin-based artist Nina Canell (b.1979, Sweden) to take place in China. Set across all three floors of the gallery space, Canell’s characteristically concise sculptural works of found and functional objects explore the often-overlapping networks and natural phenomena that surround us, probing the connections between material objects and immaterial forces. For this exhibition, Canell presents a series of new and recent works, incorporating site-specific elements and objects that have been sourced locally in Shanghai.

Taking the practice of reflexology as her starting point, Canell uses the exhibition format to investigate how the varying meanings of the term might be interpreted through the relationship between the work and its viewer.
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Gabriel Lester: The Nine Day Week
November 25th, 2016 through January 15th, 2017
Opening November 25th, 6pm

Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius
Vokiečių 2
LT-01130 Vilnius

Details »


Take Me (I’m Yours)

September 16th, 2016 through February 5th, 2017

Jewish Museum
1109 5th Ave at 92nd St, New York, NY 10128

Aaajiao presents a new installation in “Take Me (I’m Yours)” at the Jewish Museum. “Take Me (I’m Yours)” was originally conceived by Christian Boltanski and Hans Ulrich Obrist in 1995. The New York show is curated by Jens Hoffmann, Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Public Programs, the Jewish Museum; Hans Ulrich Obrist; and Kelly Taxter, Assistant Curator, the Jewish Museum.
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Times Heterotopia Trilogy III:
The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away
Guangdong Times Museum
January 8th through February 19th, 2017
Opening: January 7th, 2017


Liu Chuang is featured in the group exhibition “The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away” at Guangdong Times Museum. The exhibition is curated by Nikita Yingqian Cai and will run from January 8th through February 19th, 2017.

Details »


Cheng Ran: Diary of a Madman

October 19th 2016 through January 15th 2017
New Museum, New York

Curated by Helga Christoffersen and Massimiliano Gioni.



September 4th, 2016 through January 15th, 2017

Yuz Museum
No.35 Fenggu Road, Shanghai

Details »


Vitamin P3 – New Perspectives in Painting

Publisher: Phaidon Press, 2016
Hardcover: 352 pages
550 color illustrations
11.38 x 9.88 in
28.9 x 25.1 cm

Since the publication of the first Vitamin P in 2002, painting has continued to evolve and excite, with new generations responding to its historic importance and taking it in unexpected directions. A central pillar of artistic practice, painting also has enduring appeal, dominating the art market. Vitamin P3 takes the conversation forward, spotlighting more than 100 outstanding artists who are engaging with – and pushing the boundaries of – the medium of paint.

For the full article on Cui Jie, please [download pdf]


Art Basel Miami Beach
Stand N13
Miami Beach Convention Center
December 1st through 4th, 2016
Preview Wednesday, November 30th

LEO XU PROJECTS is pleased to announce its participation for the first time at Art Basel | Miami Beach. Located at stand N13, the gallery brings a group presentation of three artists; aaajiao, Cui Jie and Liu Shiyuan, each articulating a different vision of their experiences living, working and exhibiting in the city of Shanghai.
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fair | ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair 2016

ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair
Stand W28
Shanghai Exhibition Center, 1376 West Nanjing Road, Jing’an District, Shanghai 

November 10th through 13th, 2016
Preview Thursday, November 9th

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fair | WEST BUND ART & DESIGN 2016

West Bund Art & Design
Stand C2
West Bund Art Center, 2555 Longteng Avenue, Xuhui District, Shanghai

November 9th through 13th, 2016
Preview Tuesday, November 8th

Details »


Cui Jie, Building of Cranes #1, 2014. Oil on canvas. 150 x 110 cm.


November 9th, 2016 through December 8th, 2016
Opening: November 8th, 2016 | 5pm

chi K11 art museum, Shanghai
Level B3, K11 Art Mall, 300 Middle Huaihai Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai

Aaajiao and Cui Jie are included in the new edition of the group exhibition “Hack Space” in chi K11 art museum in Shanghai, co-curated by Amira Gad and Hans Ulrich Obrist. The K11 Art Foundation (KAF) and the Serpentine Galleries are pleased to continue their collaboration, which begun with the presentation of the group exhibition HACK SPACE during Art Basel Hong Kong 2016, by presenting a new edition of the HACK SPACE exhibition at the chi K11 art museum in Shanghai. The exhibition runs from 9 November to 8 December 2016.

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fair | ASIA NOW 2016

PIXY LIAO, "A Collection of Penises", 2013-present

Asia Now
Stand A207
9 Avenue Hoche, Paris

October 19th through 23th, 2016
Preview Wednesday, October 19th

LEO XU PROJECTS is pleased to present “Girls: Portraits, Fantasies and Troubles”, a group exhibition curated for gallery’s second-year participation in Asia Now. The booth includes a selection of photographs, installations, sculptures and videos created by Chen Wei, Cheng Ran, Guo Hongwei, Pixy Liao, Liu Chuang, Liu Shiyuan, and others, which carefully study individual and collective emotions, experiences and expressions of young female Chinese in their everyday and professional life.

New to the gallery stable, Shanghai-born Brooklyn-based young female artist Pixy Liao attempts to smash the stereotypes of hierarchies in relationship and gender roles by presenting a body of bold and experimental works — “A Collection of Penises” (2013-present) shows a collection of nineteen pink soft fabric models of male genitals in various possible shapes created by the artist’s partner; “Start your day with a good breakfast” (2009) is a selfie of the artist and her partner interacting in explicit and provocative manners. Having studied and lived in Beijing and New York, Copenhagen-based Liu Shiyuan presents a playful sculpture “But My Apple…” (2015) that captures a subtle second-thought on female’s sensibility.
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September 24th through October 25th, 2016
Opening reception: Saturday, September 24th, 6-8pm.

“Pixy Liao: Venus As A Boy” marks the first solo exhibition of Shanghai-born Brooklyn-based young female artist Pixy Yijun Liao with the gallery, running from September 24th through October 25th, 2016. Having studied photography at University of Memphis and lived in the States for over a decade, Liao is highly influenced by the style of New American Color Photography in her practices, yet spinning off from the critique of “the American dream” to focus on the contemporary lives of Asian immigrants in the western society, presenting portraits and relationship hierarchies of the youth and the minorities with a rare observational wit.

The title of the exhibition is taken from one of the greatest hits of Icelandic musician, singer, and actress Björk Gumundsdottir, in which she questions masculine and feminine gender identities as socially constructed and breaks down the popular conceptions of gender binaries. Sharing a similar objection against the conventional assumptions of gender roles, Pixy Liao uses language of contemporary American photography of deadpan portraits, seemingly unmemorable objects, and staged scenes in her photographic practices to challenge the preconceived notions about characteristics and behaviors of different genders in heterosexual relationships in the Asian American society, throwing tradition out the window in an often humorous effect.
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fair | FRIEZE LONDON 2016

Frieze London
Stand H20
Regent’s Park, London

October 6th through 9th, 2016
Preview Wednesday, October 6th

Titled after Arthur Rimbaud’s eponymous poem, “Le Bateau Ivre (Drunken Boat)” is young Chinese artist Chen Wei’s solo project that features his photographs of various formats and installations across multiple media. A time capsule on China’s disco and relevant youth cultures since the early 1990s onwards, the project outlines the growth of Chen’s generation through artist’s fabricated visual and literal materials which are informed by then British publications like i-D and the Face (once circulated underground in Beijing and Shanghai). Chen explores the mystery of Chinese disco, an apparition in most celebrated films by Jia Zhangke and Lou Ye, but barely made to the discourse of Chinese visual art. An unlicensed institution of Chinese youth cultures and generational concerns, Chen commented.
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Museum of Contemporary Art Yinchuan

Yinchuan Biennale
For an Image, Faster Than Light

September 9th through December 18th, 2016

Museum of Contemporary Art Yinchuan
No.12, HeLe Road, Xingqing District, 750101 Yinchuan, China

The first edition of the Yinchuan Biennale which will open on September 9, 2016 with the participation of 74 artists from 33 countries including China and will culminate on December 18, 2016. The YC Biennale 2016 is contextualizing some of the most important issues confronting the world from the scientific to the spiritual, from the psychic to the philosophical, from the catastrophic to the celebratory.
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Cheng Ran at work

After reviewing more than fifty portfolios and interviewing more than fifteen artists, the New Museum and the K11 Art Foundation (KAF) have selected Hangzhou-based artist Cheng Ran for a three-month residency in New York City, which will culminate in an exhibition in the New Museum’s Lobby Gallery. Cheng Ran will be working in residence at the Museum’s adjacent 231 Bowery studio space from August to October 2016, with his exhibition opening to the public on October 19. Though his work has been exhibited internationally, the New Museum show will be the artist’s first US solo exhibition and the result of his first visit to the United States.


Elizabeth Neel, Traders and Trade Routes 2, 2016, Acrylic on canvas, 180.3 x 195.6 cm

Performing Time

April 23rd through July 20th, 2016
VIP reception Saturday April 23rd,6-8pm

Artists: Chris Huen Sin Kan, Li Qing, Elizabeth Neel, Ken Okiishi, Shahzia Sikander, Taocheng Wang
“Performing Time” is the second curatorial collaboration between Pilar Corrias Gallery (London) and Leo Xu Projects (Shanghai), following a critically acclaimed exhibition in Hong Kong “The Tell-Tale Heart” (2015) where the relationship between narrative and new media was addressed. The new group exhibition otherwise steers its focus to painting as a medium that has recently gained vigor and repertoire from new ways of image-making, data, and performative languages in a world constantly reshaped by digital media. A product of the galleries’ ongoing opinion exchange on the gestural and time-based nature of Chinese calligraphy and ink painting, the show evaluates the boundaries of painting by and through time: How the notion of time in its physical and metaphysical sense has influenced artist’s respective practices.
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Another Landscape
10 Aug, 2016 through 9 Oct, 2016
Yang Museum, 3rd Floor, Building 14, No.6 Chaoyang Rd, Beijing, CHINA

Chen Wei is included in the photography-centered exhibition Another Landscape at Yang Art Musuem: the exhibition is curated by Jérémie Thircuir and will face the public on the 10th of August, 2016.

Landscape is a wide field providing endless inspiration and potential for artists, albeit one of photography’s most challenging genres.
另一种风景 – Another Landscape highlights the new vocabulary of contemporary photographers working in China, pushing the boundaries of the medium to differentiate themselves from mass image production. The exhibition encompasses both domestic Chinese artists and the group of foreign photographers who produced the Middle Kingdom.
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