He Xiangyu’s life-sized tank – Entirely made of Italian leather

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He Xiangyu - Tank
He XiangyuTank Project, 2011-2013, installation view, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm, White Cube Bermondsey, London, 2014
Photo: Ben Westoby/hexiangyu.com

Published: November 7, 2016

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About He Xiangyu’s tank

He Xiangyu’s Tank project commenced in late 2011 and was completed in early 2013. The sculpture is a prototype of the tank, specifically a T341, based on one that was found near a regimen positioned between North Korea and China. The T34 model was used as China’s armed forces principal tank, and furthermore was the same model that was used during specific infamous incidents in China’s recent history.

Sneaking into an army base at night

He Xiangyu had taken his own risks to complete this piece as he had to coordinate a team to sneak into the army base during the night to measure parts of the tank by hand as large-scale measuring tools were unavailable. Determining the measurements took four months. The plans based off of these dimensions were detailed and painstakingly thorough, so thorough that Xiangyu could reproduce an actual tank.

How the tank was created

The artist used high-grade vegetable tanned leather as his main material for his tank, creating the “outer-coat” by using the dimensions and proportions from the measurements scaled with a very insignificant magnification. Xiangyu together with 35 workers, completed the Tank Project in about two years, using over 250 full-scale leather hides and 50,000 meters of wax string. The finished piece weighs over 4000 pounds. Xiangyu‘s Tank Project also includes the relating diagrams and video.

He Xiangyu (何翔宇) - Tank Project, 2011-2013, sketch
He Xiangyu – Sketch for the Tank Project, 2011-2013

He Xiangyu – Sketch for the Tank Project, 2011-2013, sketch
He Xiangyu – Sketch for the Tank Project, 2011-2013

About He Xiangyu (何翔宇)

He Xiangyu was born 1986 in Kuandian, China. In 2008, Xiangyu graduated from Shenyang Normal University with a bachelor’s degree in art, where he studied oil painting. His work has been featured in a number of group exhibitions around the world. He Xiangyu’s works have been in collections such as: Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern, Switzerland; White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney, Australia; Domus Collection, USA; Pinault Collection, France; Long Museum, Shanghai, China; Boros Collection, Berlin, Germany; Mercator Foundation, Essen, Germany; Artron Art Museum, Shenzhen, China; Sishang Museum, Beijing, China.

He Xiangyu (何翔宇) portrait
Portrait of He Xiangyu (何翔宇)

Photos

‘Tank Project’

He Xiangyu - Tank
He XiangyuTank Project, 2011-2013, installation view, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm

He Xiangyu - Tank
He XiangyuTank Project, 2011-2013, installation view, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin
Photo: Timo Ohler/weibo.com

He Xiangyu - Tank
He XiangyuTank Project, 2011-2013, installation view, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin

He Xiangyu (何翔宇) - Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm, Noordbrabants Museum, Den Bosch, Netherlands, 2018, photo Joep Jacobs
He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm, Noordbrabants Museum, Den Bosch, Netherlands, 2018, Photo: Joep Jacobs/bd.nl

He Xiangyu (何翔宇) - Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm, Noordbrabants Museum, Den Bosch, Netherlands, 2018, photo Joep Jacobs
He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm, Noordbrabants Museum, Den Bosch, Netherlands, 2018, Photo: Joep Jacobs/bd.nl

He Xiangyu (何翔宇) - Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm, Noordbrabants Museum, Den Bosch, Netherlands, 2018, photo Joep Jacobs
He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm, Noordbrabants Museum, Den Bosch, Netherlands, 2018, Photo: Joep Jacobs/bd.nl

He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm, White Rabbit Gallery, Syndey, Australia, 2016
He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm, White Rabbit Gallery, Syndey, Australia, 2016

He Xiangyu (何翔宇) - Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm, White Rabbit Gallery, Syndey, Australia, 2016
He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm, White Rabbit Gallery, Syndey, Australia, 2016

He Xiangyu (何翔宇) - Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm, White Rabbit Gallery, Syndey, Australia, 2016
He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm, White Rabbit Gallery, Syndey, Australia, 2016

Details

He Xiangyu - Tank
Detail of He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm

Detail of He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm
Detail of He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm

Detail of He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm
Detail of He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm

Detail of He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm
Detail of He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm

Detail of He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm
Detail of He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm

All images by He Xiangyu/hexiangyu.com unless otherwise noted.

Video: Installating ‘The Tank Project’

1min

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-34
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