When you appreciate Yang Yongliang’s work from far away, it is a graceful South Pine ink; however, when you get closer into it, you will found other scenes hind in the scenery with hills and waters: urban landscape, such as sky scrapers, traffic lights, giant crane replaced the lush woods pavilion. Even the seal mark in the angle of the picture, is also like ditch cover on the street. Who composed the traditional ink painting and modern city into a symphony? Yang Yongliang, a unique artist, he uses computer technology synthesis to combine traditional Chinese ink and picture taken in modern city. Recently, the artist’s works are on display at the Bund 18 Art Gallery.
Born in late 80s in Shanghai, the artist has deep passion for traditional culture. He learned Chinese painting, calligraphy and seal carving in his early age. With specific background and learning experiences, he achieved the creation. SHIFT is honored to have an in-depth conversation and shared creative process with the artist.
Why you combining the Chinese ink painting and modern urban landscape photography together?
I learn ink painting and calligraphy since I was child. Also, living in Shanghai, probably the fastest growing city, where tremendous changes every day, I observed silently. The rises of high buildings, demolition alterations are everywhere. So naturally, I had this idea to combine what I learned in school with what I see, although there is a contradiction between two.
The display of a 10-meter long scroll painting is the longest piece of your work until now. How did you make the tall buildings of the modern urban into the ink scenery painting?
In my work contains two kinds of conflict: Chinese traditional culture and modern culture, and ecological environment’s contradiction between the modern city lives. People keep pursuing better and more comfortable living environment, leading to the construction of tall buildings, but the cost behind it is enormous. So look at my paintings in the distance it is harmonious natural scenery, but when you approached it can found the hidden details of urbanization indeed. I tried to reach a balance, unity contradictions to a harmony. Such as contradiction between traditional Chinese ink painting and the details of the modern city through my work, they are together, and to achieve visual balance.
China Landscape Painting reached a peak in Song dynasty. Nowadays artists think about how to success and explore, what’s your opinion?
I am afraid we could not restore and reach the ancient art creation, our social environment is different, and people’s mentality could not be detached, as the ancients did. We are completely in a materialistic society, industrialization manufacturing, while people in ancient are using hand-made. First, the artistic creation of the material has been unable to reach the ancient realm. For example, silk painting, the material was a hundred percent pure silk in ancient, but most modern materials, nylon is mixed. Before the ink even could be natural drinking, people today simply could not do it anymore. So, now asks us to restore the ancient art is not possible, all conditions are not meet. In my opinion, the media what we use is not important, no matter what method you use to create maintain the creative spirit of the ancients is the most important, the kind of literati culture detached spirit. With their state of mind to appreciate the present life, we could not be lived in mountain and forest, but we can emphasize “hermit known to the world.” in big cities.
The exhibition, the artist’s other theme is “cement”, your device works like the brick pile as the ruins of a mountain, with clouds of dry ice spray, as if a kind of foggy in the mountain. Isn’t it an exactly another interpretation of the scenery painting?
Oh, yes, you can imagine into the mountain landscape. As the demolition alteration, discarded daily are placed on the bricks stacked everywhere into the hillside, with the cloud of cigarette smoke during the shoot, like clouds in the distance, with the painting it is paradoxical but also reach a harmonious unity.
Another amazing installation art is a popping out of the dragon, 2 meters high, 6 meters long, made of cement. Why making ‘dragon’? Maybe dragon’s realistic shape and huge body in particular challenges the audience’s visual and emotional.
The reason why I made dragon is that dragon image is only in China. Dragon is a sacred animal in ancient times, but in my work, the dragon became a living animal, a biological. Cement production, reflecting China’s current situation of housing construction, but for this social phenomenon, I do not comment, whether good or bad depend on audience own choice.
For the future, what are your plans and intentions?
Not yet decided. I like challenges, and uncertainty toward future. This is why I resigned from the studio advertising work, because I have no interest in the business, and if such work has been going, I can see the future 5 years, or even 10 years later, what my life will be. Suddenly I feel living is meaningless. So ultimately choose to invest in art creation. The future is unknown to me, and the best is that the unpredictability of the future, nothing terrible. When I die, before closing my eyes, many things will come out so vividly. I certainly think everything is worth. In short, my attitude is: earnestly to do own thing, there will always return!
Yang Yongliang artificial solo exhibition in Wonderland
Date: 30th April – 8th June 2010
Place: Gallery 18
Address: 4th Floor, 18 Shandong Road, Shanghai
Tel: +86 21 6323 8099