Huang Yong Ping

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Huang Yong Ping (2016)

Huang Yong Ping (Chinese: 黄永砯; born 1954) is a French contemporary artist and one of the most famous Chinese Avant-garde artists. Born in Xiamen, he was recognized as the most controversial and provocative artist of the Chinese art scene in the 1980s.[1]

Huang was one of the first artists to consider that art was a strategy.[1] He was a self-taught student educating himself under three well-known men. Joseph Beuys well known German artist and art theorist, John Cage an American music theorist and philosopher, and Marcel Duchamp a French artist that's associated with Dadaist and Surrealist. He then graduated in 1982 from art school in Hangzhou. In 1986 he formed Xiamen Dada. Huang Yong Ping has four periods associated with himself, anti-artistic affectation (fan jiaoshi zhuyi), anti-self-expression (fan ziwo biaoxian he xingshi zhuyi), anti-art (fan yishu), and anti-history (fanyishushi). In 1989 at the age of 35 Huang Yong Ping went to Paris for the Magiciens de la terre exhibit. He then ended up immigrating to France and living there ever since. Many of his pieces today are on a large scale, making them not auction-compatible.

Huang Yong Ping represented France at the 1999 Venice Biennale. In 2016 his 'Empires' was the selection for the biennial Monumenta exposition at the Grand Palais in Paris.[2]

Xiamen Dada is a group formed by Huang Yong Ping with Zha Lixiong, Liu Yiling, Lin Chun and Jiao Yaoming in 1986, a postmodernist, radical avant-garde group. However, they were looked at as a modern style of art. To protest, the group publicly burned their works, Huang Yong Ping stated that “ Art works are for the artist what opium is for men. Until art is destroyed, life is never peaceful” later the group was withheld from any other public showings.”[3]

Huang is represented by Gladstone Gallery in New York, Kamel Mennour in Paris, and Tang Contemporary in Beijing.

Religion and its Role[edit]

Huang incorporated many different Chinese philosophies into his works, like Chan Buddhism, Taoism, some western philosophies and Dada, which lead to the forming of the Xiamen Dada group. There are many similarities between Chan Buddhism and Dada as the phrase “Chan is Dada, Dada is Chan” is common among people. Both Chan and Dada are direct and reflective about aesthetic importance and the impossible reality of reality. However, Chan Buddhism and Taoism are constantly changing, and since Dada is Chan and vice versa this should be the case for Dada, but they are opposed to adding more movements making it a paradox and essential having this idea work against Dada's main ideas.[4] The use of these many philosophies show a “cross-cultural exchange”[5] and resulted in the production of many of his works such as “A Concise History of Modern Art” after Two Minutes in the Washing Machine and A “Book Washing” Project.

Early Art Works[edit]

Anti-Self Expression (Fan ziwo biaoxian he xingshi zhuyi)[edit]

Roulette-Series is a three series project from 1985–1988 including portable roulettes consisting of 6 turntables, Huang Yong Ping focused on chance, divination and a non-subjective way of creating his art works. His finished abstract art works were determined either by dice, a roulette wheel and other apparatuses that help create his pieces by chance or accident. This process he took determined anything from the color to the juxtaposition of the piece. The concept that he portrays in this series is his theory that you cannot escape destiny, and that destiny itself is not separate from accident or chance. Huang Yong Ping's artworks tend to diverge from his original concepts, "his working always involve a deferring process",[6] as a byproduct of his conceptual idea he created this series. This series falls under the anti-self-expression stage of his works because he let outside sources influence his artworks and determine the final product of them based on the out come of inanimate objects, such as the roulette wheel or dice. Marcel Duchamp was a big influence on these pieces because in his philosophy he eliminated the aesthetic taste and added the aspect of spontaneity, also creating the portable roulettes like created by Duchamp. He also looked at the theory that Wittgenstein had on ontology and representation. Huang Yong Ping categorized it in three ways, as a process of art saying "work of art is bigger than the thought", conceptual art saying "the thought is bigger than the work of art" which is contradicting the first statement and then the last way to categorize it is the "Eastern Spirit" the Taoist and Chan Buddhist concept.[1] The way that Huang went about creating his paintings were down in a specific order. The canvas in which he was working on were divided into eight sections, on each turntable there were also eight sections. He then had different materials that he was going to use and this was determined on rolling the dice and the juxtaposition of the pieces were determined by the tables.

Huang Yong Ping said that, “every rule indicates an anti-rule, every motive indicates a kind of anti-motive, every choice indicates a kind of anti-choice. He therefore believes: ‘However much art there is so much anti-art exists’ ”.[1]

Anti-Art (fan yishu) and Anti-History (fanyishushi)[edit]

A Concise History of Modern Art after Two Minutes in the Washing Machine is a simple project with a complex idea. Essentially it is two books, one by a Chinese art historian Wang Bomin and another by an English art historian Herbert Read, both well established. He then takes the Chinese Text book and the English book on Chinese avant-garde art and puts them in a washing machine for two minutes. The finish product is a pile of pulp, displayed on a wooden box.

The meaning of the art was to essentially erase the clash between tradition (east) and modernity (west). The pulp represents breaking the division between these to contradictory themes of traditional and modern art. Making History states that according to Huang Yong Ping “this was his response to an enigmatic question that had preoccupied generations of modern Chinese intellectuals and artists: how to position oneself between tradition and modernity and between East and West?”[7] It is somewhat obvious that the work to create "A Concise History of Modern Art" after Two Minutes in the Washing Machine was simple but the concept behind it is very complex. A "Book Washing" Project is a project very similar to A Concise History of Modern Art but came three years earlier than Two Minutes in the Washing Machine . He was looked at to have a “radical anti-art history” those these works contribute to two of his for early art periods he went through, the anti-art and anti-history periods. It was actually this piece where he took all the books from his bookshelf and put them in the wash to create a pulp just like that in A Concise History of Modern Art similar to Two Minutes in the Washing Machine but on a larger scale. He takes the pulp created by the washing process he then stuck it back on the wall. The concept behind them are the same, however, the medium in which he went about producing this is different. A "Book Washing" Project was a performance piece done in his home in Xiamen.

After Leaving China: Art Works[edit]

The Tiananmen Square massacre happened when Huang Yong Ping went to the Magicians of Earth (1989) exhibition and he then decided to not return to China. After this move his works changed dramatically and prominently on the philosophies of Taoism and Buddhism. He suddenly was immersing himself in western ways.[8]

House of Oracles[edit]

The House of Oracles Retrospective on Huang's work was shown at the Walker Art Center, from October 16, 2005 through January 15, 2006, at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art from March 18, 2006 to February 25, 2007, at the Vancouver Art Gallery from April 5 to September 16, 2007, and Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing from March 22 to June 8, 2008. The program to this retrospective describes Huang's work as:

Huang's sculptures and installations—drawing on the legacies of Joseph Beuys, Arte Povera, and John Cage as well as traditional Chinese art and philosophy—routinely juxtapose traditional objects or iconic images with modern references.

The House of Oracles features more than forty of Huang Yong Ping's works starting from his first exhibition Magicians of Earth (1989) up until this shows, showing the most significant ones of the past two decades. These works include: Bat Project II (2002), The Nightmare of King George V (2002), Python (2000) and many more.

Renowned Curator, Fei Dawei says:

"This first retrospective of Huang Yongping originated at the Walker Art Centre in the United States. It was shown at Mass Moca, the biggest contemporary museum in America and then Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada, before traveling to its final venue, UCCA in Beijing. And even before the inauguration of UCCA, I've decided to put on this exhibition because as a Chinese Museum, we feel obliged to introduce the best Chinese artists. This is of great importance for the artist, as well as for the audiences in contemporary art and especially, for UCCA's image, as an institution in the art world."[9]

His art pieces show portray historical events and their influences of political powers.The Nightmare of King George V portrays a 1911 hunting excursion that King George V went on to poach game in the juggle. Bat Project II historical background was Huang Yong Ping was going to recreate an exact replica of the U.S spy plane that crashed into a Chinese fighter, leading to controversy with in politics.

100 Arms of Guan-yin[edit]

100 Arms of Guan-yin

In 1996, Huang Yong Ping took part in Manifesta, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, in 1997 Huang participated in "Skulptur.Projekte" in Münster, Germany with his skulpture "100 Arms of Guan-yin". The Guanyin figure is associated with Buddhism and has multiple arms. Huang Yong Ping interprets this famous deity through his own 100 Arms of Guan-in by placing mannequin arms holding various objects on a metal structure which is itself an enlarged version of Marcel Duchamp's 1914 readymade Bottle Rack.

During 2008, Huang's work was on display at the Astrup Fearnley museum of modern art in Oslo, Norway. This is his first solo show in Norway.[citation needed]

For his first UK solo show in The Curve, Barbican Art Gallery, London, Huang Yong Ping created a new installation that explores the imperial history between Britain and China in the 19th century, focusing on the Opium Wars. The exhibition takes its title Frolic from the name of a ship built to transport goods between British India, China and Great Britain. The exhibition was on from 25 June-21 September 2008.


Bat Project II (2002) was planned as a massive 20 x 15 x 6 m steel outdoor installation at the opening of China's First Guangzhou Triennial at the Guangdong Museum of Art. Two days before the show opening, on November 16, 2002, foreign ministry officials removed the work, then partially completed. The work, which was recreated in part in Huang's House of Oracles retrospective, was a full-scale model of the cockpit section and left wing of an American EP-3 spy plane, filled with taxodermically preserved bats. The plane modeled the one that collided with a Chinese fighter jet in March 2001, killing the Chinese pilot.[10]

The 2008 exhibition of his piece, Theatre of the World, at the Vancouver Art Gallery met with Animal Rights protests and legal threats due to its reliance on the violent interaction between insects in an enclosed space. The work was part of House of Oracles, his travelling retrospective exhibition.[11]


Selected Solo Shows[edit]

2016 "Monumenta," Grand Palais, Paris; "Wolfgang Hahn Prize,” Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; “Bâton Serpent III: Spur Track to the Left,” Power Station of Art, Shanghai.

2015 “Huang Yong Ping: Bâton Serpent II,” Red Brick Art Museum, Beijing

2014 “Les Mues,” HAB Galerie – Hangar à Bananes, Nantes, France; “Huang Yong Ping: Bâton Serpent,” Maxxi, Rome.

2013 “Amoy/Xiamen,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Lyon, France; “Abbottabad,” Hôtel de Gallifet, Aix-en-Provence, France.

2012 “Circus,” Gladstone Gallery, New York; “Bugarach,” Galerie Kamel Mennour, Paris; “Lille 3000, Fantastic,” Musée de l’Hospice Comtesse, Lille, France.

2011 “Huang Yong Ping,” Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, England.

2010 “Huang Yong Ping,” Musée Océanographique de Monaco, Monte Carlo, Monaco.

2009 "Huang Yong Ping: Arche 2009,” Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris; “Huang Yong Ping: Tower Snake,” Gladstone Gallery, New York; “Huang Yong Ping: Caverne,” Kamel Mennour, Paris.

2008 House of Oracles: A Huang Yong Ping Retrospective, UCCA in Beijing[12]

2007 “Huang Yong Ping,” Bernier and Eliades, Athens; “Huang Yong Ping: From C to P,” Gladstone Gallery, New York.

2006 “Pantheon,” Centre International d'art et du Paysage de l'ile de Vassiviere, l’ile de Vassiviere, France; “Les Mains de Bouddha,” Galerie Anne de Villepoix, Paris.

2005 House of Oracles, Walker Art Center, Minenapolis, U.S.A[12]

2003 “Huang Yong Ping,” Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, Massachusetts; “Huang Yong Ping,” Beacon Project Space, Beacon, New York; “Huang Yong Ping,” Fundacion NMAC, Cadiz, Spain; “Huang Yong Ping,” Groningen, The Netherlands; “Huang Yong Ping,” Musée Dominique Vivant Denon, Chalon-sur-Saône, France.

2002 Xian Wu, Art & Public, Geneva, Switzerland "Om Mani Padme Hum," Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York, U.S.A.[12]

2000 "Taigong fishing, Willing to Bite the Bait," Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, U.S.A.[12]


  • Memorandum: Bat Project I, II, III, 2001-2004." Köln: Buchhandlung Walther König and Museum Ludwig, 2016.
  • Wu Zei Huang Yong Ping , Jérôme Alexandre, Marie-Claude Beaud, Marie-Laure Bernadac, Robert Calcagno, Fei Dawei, Jean de Loisy, Huang Yong Ping, Arnaud Laporte, Richard Leydier, Jean-Hubert Martin, Jessica Morgan, Gilles A. Tiberghien, kamel mennour & Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, 2011.
  • Myths Huang Yong Ping , Jean de Loisy, Gilles A. Tiberghien, Richard Leydier, kamel mennour, 2009.
  • House of Oracles: a Huang Yong Ping Retrospective , Doryun Chong, Hou Hanru, Huang Yong Ping and Philippe Vergne, Walker Art Center, 2005.
  • Magiciens de la terre, Jean-Hubert Martin, Centre Georges Pompidou, 1989.



  1. ^ a b c d Koppel-Yang, Martina. "Semiotic Warfare" (PDF). Timezone 8. Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "Monumenta 2016". Minor Sights. Retrieved 15 May 2016. 
  3. ^ "Xiamen Dada". Academic. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  4. ^ "XIAMEN DADA AND CHAN BUDDHISM". Excerpt. Walker Art Center. Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Rethinking Contemporary Art and Multicultural Education. New York, NY: Routledge. 2011. p. 124. 
  6. ^ "XIAMEN DADA AND CHAN BUDDHISM". Walker Art Center. Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  7. ^ Hung, Wu (2008). Making History. Hong Kong: Timezone 8. p. 69. 
  8. ^ Cotter, Holland. "'House of Oracles' Looks Back at Huang Yong Ping's Legacy". New York Times. Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  9. ^ "House of Oracles: A Huang Yongping Retrospective". Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  10. ^ Stephanie Cash and David Ebony. "Huang Yong Ping work banished in China Artworld – Bat Project 2 removed from Guangzhou Triennial". Art in America (Jan 2003). Retrieved June 16, 2006. [dead link].
  11. ^ "Controversial animal art exhibit still at risk". Retrieved May 8, 2009. .
  12. ^ a b c d "Huang Yongping". Artzinechina, Inc. 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-02-20. Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  13. ^

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