This exhibition presents the first retrospective of the work of this contemporary Chinese artist. Working with diverse traditions and media, Huang Yong Ping has created an artistic universe comprised of provocative installations that challenge the viewer to reconsider everything from the idea of art, to national identity, to recent history. Once one of the leading figures of the Xiamen Dada movement—a collective of artists interested in creating a new Chinese cultural identity by bridging trends in Western modernism with Chinese traditions of Zen and Taoism—Huang continues to confront established definitions of history and aesthetics.
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. Eight-Legged Hat (2000) pairs ancient Egyptian ibis with a pith helmet, reflecting Egypt’s colonial past. Other works resonate with more recent events: Bat Project II (2002) is a replica of the wing from the U.S. spy plane that collided with a Chinese fighter jet in 2001, setting off a weeklong international standoff. Two Typhoons (2001) consists of the prayer scrolls from a dismantled Tibetan prayer wheel, echoing the continuing conflict between Communist China and Buddhist Tibet.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a major publication, the first to address the full range of Huang Yong Ping’s artistic accomplishments. After its premiere at the Walker, the exhibition will be shown at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and venues in Asia and Europe.
Curator: Philippe Vergne