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b. 1971, China

Yang Fudong Biography

Yang Fudong's natural talent in drawing led him to train as a painter and he graduated from the Oil Painting department of the China Academy of Art in 1995. However, it is film and photography that he is now best known for. Through often lateral, fragmented and surreal means, Yang presents different ways of being in the complex socio-political landscape of his nation, often centring his concerns in the conflict between tradition and modernity.

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Yang first rose to prominence in the art world in 2000 following the controversy surrounding his photographic triptych The First Intellectual (2000). The work was removed from the exhibition Uncooperative Approach (Fuck Off)—curated by Ai Weiwei and Feng Boyi—by the Cultural Inspection Bureau, who considered the images inappropriate. The First Intellectual depicts three images of a dishevelled businessman standing in the middle of a city road, briefcase in one hand, brick in the other, blood pouring from his head onto his white shirt. In the centre image the briefcase has left his hand and papers are flying through the air. These images became the seed of Yang's five-part film Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest (2003-2007), which was mostly shot in Shanghai but presented both rural and urban settings. The film focuses on seven idealistic youths who act on feeling. It references the legendary Seven Sages—a group of third-century Chinese Daoist intellectuals who rejected the morally corrupt government and the normal lives that were being forced upon them. They instead chose to live a life full of music, poetry, alcohol and qingtan (pure conversation).

Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest reflects Yang's interest in breaking away from mainstream cinematic dogma. The film does not emphasise narrative but instead focuses on long sequences with sparse dialogue. The near-static composition of the filmic picture plane is perhaps influenced by Yang's experience as a painter. This strategy is also visible in Yang's The Fifth Night (2010), shot on a film set at the Shanghai Film Shooting Base. The film is designed to be projected onto seven screens that sit side by side, revealing events like a scroll gradually unfurled. Like Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest, it follows seven young people, mixing and overlapping perspectives and time continuities. While painterly in its consideration of the picture plane, The Fifth Night is also sculptural; it is part of his group of 'space' films that relate to the presentation of video in three-dimensional space.

In an interview with Ocula in 2015, Yang said of The Fifth Night, 'if the eyes of the audience are focused on the third screen, they'll still be able to take a glimpse of the changes on other screens out of the corners of their eyes. ... Through their eyes, the space films are edited and would become unique to them'. In The Fifth Night, Yang presents what could be interpreted as separate instances but are actually tied together. This is also true of the way the screens themselves must be viewed. In this skewing of perspective, Yang reveals the controlled and selective vision of cinema, and also the woozy instability of reality.

Through his films, Yang ponders what can truly be defined as 'real', and opens up the possibility that the performance of reality comes closer to reality than daily life. In this line of inquiry, the boundaries between myth and memory, as well as idealisation and actuality, begin to blur. In fact, Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest and The Fifth Night present and blur many dichotomies—man/woman, individual/collective, past/present—and in doing so emphasise the individual identity of each side while simultaneously allowing the pairs to flow freely towards and away from each other. By this method, Yang destabilises definition and allows the viewer greater autonomy in their understanding of the ideologies they have been fed both within and outside of cinema.

Casey Carsel | Ocula | 2018


Yang Fudong Featured Artworks

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The Light That I feel 12 by Yang Fudong contemporary artwork
Yang FudongThe Light That I feel 12, 2014black and white inkjet print
150 x 150 cm
ShanghART Enquire about this work
Beyond GOD and Evil — The Divine Assembly 5 by Yang Fudong contemporary artwork
Yang FudongBeyond GOD and Evil — The Divine Assembly 5, 2019Acrylic on inkjet print
195 x 135 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery Enquire about this work
The Light That I feel 7 我感受到的光 7 by Yang Fudong contemporary artwork
Yang FudongThe Light That I feel 7 我感受到的光 7, 2014Black and White chromogenic print, 120mm b&w film
150 x 150 cm
ShanghART Enquire about this work
Moving Mountains 2 by Yang Fudong contemporary artwork
Yang FudongMoving Mountains 2, 2016B&W inkjet print on Hahnemuhle Ultra smooth paper 305g
76 x 115 cm
ShanghART Enquire about this work
The Light That I Feel 1 by Yang Fudong contemporary artwork
Yang FudongThe Light That I Feel 1, 2014B&W inkjet
120 x 180 cm
ShanghART Enquire about this work
Yejiang/The Nightman Cometh by Yang Fudong contemporary artwork
Yang FudongYejiang/The Nightman Cometh, 2011Black and white inkjet print
120 x 180 cm
Not for sale
Duddell's

Yang Fudong Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Cache: From B to Z at ShanghART, Shanghai
Open Now
12 April–12 June 2020 Group Exhibition Cache: From B to Z ShanghART, Westbund, Shanghai
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, (SELF) PORTRAITS at Parkett, Zurich
Open Now
22 February–18 July 2020 Group Exhibition (SELF) PORTRAITS Parkett, Zurich Exhibition Space
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Winter Group Exhibition at ShanghART, Beijing
Closed
27 December 2019–16 February 2020 Group Exhibition Winter Group Exhibition ShanghART, Beijing

Yang Fudong Represented By

Yang Fudong In Ocula Magazine

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Yang Fudong Ocula Conversation Yang Fudong By Sam Gaskin, Shanghai

Lyrical, nostalgic and profoundly beautiful, Yang Fudong’s photographs and multi-channel videos have immediately become iconic. Ocula spoke to Yang on the occasion of his new solo shows:  Twin Tracks: Yang Fudong Solo Exhibition at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai (until 15 November 2015) and Yang Fudong: Filmscapes at Auckland Art...

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Six top shows to see in Shanghai this September Ocula Report Six top shows to see in Shanghai this September By Sam Gaskin, Shanghai

With the West Bund Art & Design Fair, Photo Shanghai and Art in the City all taking place this month, it's a great time to visit Shanghai. Outside of the fairs, these are the biggest draws. The Yuz Museum: Featuring Yang Fudong, Secundino Hernández and the Rain Room Chinese-Indonesian collector Budi Tek 's Yuz Museum is a destination...

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Serge Tiroche Ocula Conversation Serge Tiroche By Anna Dickie, Hong Kong

With an ultra slick website that enables easy navigation of its 400 plus artworks from many of the leading artists of today, the Tiroche DeLeon Collection is unique in its focus and ownership structure. Established in 2011 by Serge Tiroche and Russ DeLeon, the collection is focused on artworks by both recognised masters, and emerging talent from...

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Go East: The Gene & Brian Sherman Contemporary Asian Art Collection Ocula Report Go East: The Gene & Brian Sherman Contemporary Asian Art Collection By Jane O’Sullivan, Sydney

Yang Zhichao’s Chinese Bible is both unyieldingly monumental and humble. In the latest presentation of the work in Sydney, all 3,000 of the diaries he has collected from Beijing’s fleamarkets are placed in neat rows on a large, rectangular plinth. Dated from 1949 to 1999 they record 50 turbulent years in China’s history....

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Yang Fudong In Related Press

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BEYOND GOD AND EVIL – PREFACE: YANG FUDONG Related Press BEYOND GOD AND EVIL – PREFACE: YANG FUDONG 11 July 2019, Art Asia Pacific

Entering Marian Goodman Gallery's London space to view Yang Fudong's solo exhibition, I was stopped short by a wire mesh fence erected just beyond the front desk, barring the way to the exhibition. Somewhat discombobulated, I asked the receptionist, 'Is the show open?' It was; visitors were to walk through a gate set in the fence, and heavy black...

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Shanghai gold rush part one: West Bund Art & Design Related Press Shanghai gold rush part one: West Bund Art & Design 29 November 2016, RanDian

West Bund is in a remote bit of Xuhui, a long way away from the Waitan (the Bund). It was once devoted to heavy industry and even had an airport, but now it’s an 8 km-stretch of arts precinct and the former aircraft factory is an art fair pavilion. The leases though are only for 5 years and the condos are already encroaching. Only 5? Yes, but...

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Preview: PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai 2016 Related Press Preview: PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai 2016 5 September 2016, Art Radar Journal

Opening on 8 September 2016 with a VIP Preview, PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai will present 50 leading galleries from 24 cities in 15 countries, featuring a unique and diverse selection of emerging, up-and-coming and established international photographers. The third edition of PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai will be open to the public from 9 to 11 September...

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Discussion on video art research in the context of globalisation: 'Time Test' is unveiled Related Press Discussion on video art research in the context of globalisation: 'Time Test' is unveiled 12 July 2016, CAFA ART INFO

At 2:30 pm on July 2, 2016, Time Test – International Video Art Research Exhibition was unveiled at CAFA Art Museum. The exhibition is jointly hosted by Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University East Lansing, Michigan, U.S.A. and CAFA Art Museum. In the axis of the development course of the video art, the project presents...

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