Huang Yong PingPast Exhibition
- Huang Yong Ping, installation view, Nottingham Contemporary, 2011. Photography by Andy Keate.
Huang Yong Ping is one of the leading Chinese artists of his generation. He moved to Paris in 1989 after participating in the renowned Magiciens de la Terre exhibition at Centre Pompidou that year, soon after the brutal suppression of the demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. Today he divides his time between studios in Paris and Fujian province in southern China.
Huang makes arresting – and often very large – sculptures. Many feature animals and architecture, in unexpected combinations. His sculptures act as allegories – they combine references that are topical and traditional, political and mythological. His work examines how cultures collide and transform as a result of massive political and economic forces – imperialism, for example, or rapid economic globalization.
World religions are a theme in his work. In this exhibition there are references to Islam, Buddhism and the Judeo–Christian tradition. They include a minaret from a mosque, and a terrifying Leviathan – or sea monster – from the Book of Job in the Old Testament. Seven Buddhas dangle on a fishing line in front of it.
In Marché de Punya a market stall sells printed prayers, incense sticks and candles – all commonly used as religious offerings in China. The elephant, a sign of mental strength in China, lies prostrate in front of it, a metaphor for the commercialisation of ancient traditions and the loss of religious integrity.
Animals are also used to symbolise recent political events. In Amerigo Vespucci a metallic fighting dog, as imposing as a US Marine, cocks his leg against the immaculate gallery wall, marking his territory with a pool of urine in the shape of the USA.
One of Huang’s most ambitious works, Bat Project IV, made in 2004, will be presented for the first time in Europe. Visitors enter the fuselage of an actual American spy plane. Stuffed bats hang in the blasted windows of its cockpit, an example of Huang’s play with the double meanings of symbols – bats, creatures of the night, are sometimes feared in the West, but they are believed to bring good fortune in China. Inside you can find out about the diplomatic crisis that followed the collision of a US reconnaissance plane – a bat logo on its tail fin – with a Chinese fighter jet in 2001.
Humour and an evident delight in manipulating images and materials are ever present in Huang’s political and moral interpretations of the world today.
Exhibition:Huang Yong Ping
Dates:15 Apr 2011 – 26 Jun 2011
Alex Farquharson with Jim Waters