Cheng Ran




Literature, European Art House Cinema and Western Pop Culture are Cheng Ran’s (b. 1981 Inner Mongolia, China) main sources of inspiration. These influences refer to the many bootlegs and illegal versions of films, books and other manifestations of western pop culture in China, where they are often ‘enriched’ with new covers, added text and sometimes even entire chapters. This post-modern way of dealing with meaning, copyright and authenticity is the starting point for Cheng Ran’s practice, which consists mainly of video and film, as well as photography and installation. He dives into the gaps within existing plots, adding speculative stories, connections and perspectives to soundtracks of classical music. Combined they present a new narrative to the viewer.

Cheng’s work surpasses solely pointing out the exuberance and radical social change in contemporary China. He combines cinema, theatre and poetry in a loose but significant manner, bringing together free association, fragmentation of meaning and the appropriation of stories. Various cultures, social positions and existential questions coexist in a highly stylized scenography.

Cheng Ran has exhibited at numerous museums and biennales, including “SALTWATER: a Theory of Thought Forms”, the 14th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, 2015; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 2015; “Inside China”, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France, 2014; “Decorum-Carpets & Tapestries by Artists”, Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China, 2014; “We Have Never Participated”, the 8th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale, Shenzhen (2014); Whitebox Art Center, New York, USA, 2014; “ON|OFF: China’s Young Artists in Concept and Practice”, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China, 201; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston & Asia Society Texas Center, Texas, USA, 2013; Kino der Kunst, Munich, Germany, 2013; 26th European Media Art Festival, Osnabrueck, 2013; “Video Art in China –MADATAC”, Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain, 2011; “Moving Image In China:1988-2011”, and Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, China, 2011.

Recent solo exhibitions include: “Diary of a Madman”, New Museum, New York, USA, “In Course of the Miraculous”, K11 Art Foundation, Hong Kong, China, and “Orange Blue”, Qiao Space, Shanghai, China, all in 2016; “A Film in Progress”, Galerie Urs Meile, Lucerne, Switzerland; “In Course of the Miraculous”, Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing, China; “The Music is On, The Band is Gone”, chi K11 Art Museum, Shanghai, China, in 2015; “Cheng Ran: A Telephone Booth Romance”, Leo Xu Projects, Shanghai, China, 2014; “Immersion and Distance”, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China, 2009, among others.

Cheng was nominated for the “Absolut Art Award” in 2013 and the first edition of OCAT – Pierre Huber Art Prize, and won the “Best Video Artist 2011” award from art magazine Randian.

Download the complete artist biography.

[back to top]


CHENG RAN, "Always I Trust", 2014, Twenty five channel video installation with sound and light boxes, 6 min 26 sec

CHENG RAN, "Simply Wild", 2014, Super 8 film transferred to digital video with sound, 6 min 53 sec

CHENG RAN, "Two Pigeons", Before Falling Asleep Part II, 2013, Super 16 mm film transferred to single channel HD video with sound , 4 min 11 sec, Installation view at Rijksakademie / De Ateliers

CHENG RAN, "Lostalghia", 2012, Single channel video with sound, 11 min 45 sec

CHENG RAN, "1971-2000", 2012, Single channel video with sound, 7 min 47 sec

CHENG RAN, "Angels For The Millennium #6", 2012, Single channel video with sound, 7 min 45 sec

CHENG RAN, "The Eclipse", 2011, Single channel video with sound, 3 min

CHENG RAN, "Chewing Gum Papers", 2011, Single channel video with sound, 3 min 10 sec

CHENG RAN, "Prospect Cottage", 2012, Single channel video with sound 8 min, 31 sec

CHENG RAN, "Rock Dove", 2009, Single channel video with sound, 5 min

CHENG RAN, "Anonymity, or Imitation and Imagining of Man Ray’s Tears", 2010, Single channel video with sound, 11 min 33 sec

CHENG RAN, "Dark Red (The Deepest Red)", 2012, Multi-channel video installation, Dimension variable

CHENG RAN, "Born in the Wild", 2013, Mixed media installation, Dimension variable

CHENG RAN, "Temporary (Taxi) Day (Driver)", 2014, Mixed media, Dimension variable

CHENG RAN, "Temporary (Taxi) Day (Driver)", 2014, Mixed media, Dimension variable

CHENG RAN, "The Last Generation", 2013, Pure New Zealand wool, manually embroidered carpet, 270 x 192 cm

CHENG RAN, "Ghost of Tundra", 2010, C-print, 20 7/8 x 31 1/2 inches, 53 x 80 cm

CHENG RAN, "Midnight Art Museum", 2009, Mixed media installation, 340 x 180 x 280 cm

CHENG RAN, "Still of an Unknown Film", 2008, C-print, 105 x 150 cm


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

[back to top]


“Diary of a Madman” (solo), New Museum, New York, USA, 2016
“The Image Expression In The Art Practice Of New Generation”, Gallery 4 of Xi’an Art Museum, Xi An, China, 2016
“Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions”, Yebisu Garden Place, Tokyo, Japan, 2016
“A Beautiful Disorder”, The Cass Sculpture Foundation, Chichester, UK, 2016
“Residency and Solo Exhibition”, established by New Museum & K11 Art Foundation, New Museum, New York, USA, 2016
“In Course of the Miraculous” (solo), K11 Art Foundation, Hong Kong, China, 2016
“Orange Blue” (solo), Qiao Space, Shanghai, China, 2016
“Time Test: International Video Art Research Exhibition”, CAFA Art Museum, Beijing, China, 2016
“Unlimited”, Art Basel, Messe Basel, Messeplatz, Basel, Switzerland, 2016
“Utopia and Beyond”, Castello di Rivara – Centro d’arte contemporane, Turin, Italy, 2016
“A Film in Progress” (solo), Galerie Urs Meile, Lucerne, Switzerland, 2015
“In Course of the Miraculous” (solo), Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing, China, 2015
“The Music is On, The Band is Gone” (solo), chi K11 Art Museum, Shanghai, China, 2015
“SALTWATER: a Theory of Thought Forms”, 14th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey, 2015
“Essential Matters – Moving Images from China”, Borusan Contemporary Perili Kosk, Istanbul, Turkey, 2015
“When I Give, I Give Myself”, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2015
“Utopian Days – Fairy Tales”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei, Taiwan, 2015
“Fairy Tales”, Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei, Taiwan, 2015

[back to top]


Artsy, “The Top Emerging Artists of 2016″, December, 2016  [download pdf]
Artforum China, “Critics Picks – Cheng Ran: Diary of a Madman”, by Jiang Meng, November, 2016. [download pdf]
Artsy, “20 Chinese Emerging Artists You Should Know”, by Frances Arnold, July, 2016  [download pdf]
Flash Art, “__A__Hexagon”, by Cheng Ran, Issue 49, 2016 [download pdf]
Frieze, “Light Source” (cover story), by En Liang Khong, Issue 177, March, 2016 [download pdf]
The Bund, “Mild Art Belonged To Petty Bourgeoisie And Middle Class”, by Han Jian, Issue 638, April, 2015 [download pdf]
Kaleidoscope, “Exploring The Endless Possibilities of Narrative, Language and Story – Telling”, by Mariagrazia Costantino, January, 2015 [download pdf]
Art China, “Cheng Ran At Leo Xu Projects”, by Yu Kai Maya, Issue 109, December, 2014 [download pdf]
The Bund, “Cheng Ran New Born At Thirties”, by Shen Yin, Issue 618, September, 2014 [download pdf]
Art Review Asia, “8th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale We Have Never Participated”, by Yung Ma, Autumn & Winter, 2014 [download pdf]
Hangzhou Magazine, “Anoymous Mail: He impressed Carina Lau with a deconstructed English spam”, by Wu Yiyun, August, 2014 [download pdf]
Peerage, “The Art of Possibilities”, edited by Ayaka, Issue 303, September, 2014 [download pdf]
Rijksakademie inside out, “Meeting Cheng Ran in his studio”, by Frederieke Beunk, March, 2014 [download pdf]
Leap, “Cheng Ran: The Last Generation”, by Yang Di, August, 2013 [download pdf]
Art World, “Cheng Ran”, by Lin Jia, September, 2012 [download pdf]
Leap, “What Why How”, by Tang Lingjie, June, 2012 [download pdf]
THE WEEK, “Cheng Ran: Another Possibility”, by Amos, June, 2012 [download pdf]
Men’s Uno, “Cheng Ran (Artist Feature) “, by Mu, May, 2012 [download pdf]
Leap, “Cheng Ran: Circadian Rhythm – Videos You Didn’t Finish Watching”, by Cheng Ran, June, 2011 [download pdf]

[back to top]


Interviewed by LeCODE Project。, September 2013.

[back to top]


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.
Details »


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.
Details »


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.
Details »


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.
Details »


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.
Details »

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

Details »

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.

Details »

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.
Details »


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.
Details »

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.
Details »


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.
Details »


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.
Details »



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.
Details »