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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Yang Fudong

b. 1971, China

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.

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
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Featured Artworks

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Dawn Breaking Photo Series 1 by Yang Fudong contemporary artwork Yang FudongDawn Breaking Photo Series 1, 2018 Archival Inkjet Print
120 x 180 cm
The Coloured Sky: New Women II, 1 by Yang Fudong contemporary artwork Yang FudongThe Coloured Sky: New Women II, 1, 2014 Colour inkjet print
180 x 120 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery
New Women 4 by Yang Fudong contemporary artwork Yang FudongNew Women 4, 2013 Black and white inkjet print
110 x 165 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery
The Light That I feel 8 我感受到的光 8 by Yang Fudong contemporary artwork Yang FudongThe Light That I feel 8 我感受到的光 8, 2014 120 mm B&W film and B&W inkjet print
150 x 150 cm
International Hotel 6 by Yang Fudong contemporary artwork Yang FudongInternational Hotel 6, 2010 Black and white photograph
120 x 180 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery
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, 2014 Black and White chromogenic print, 120mm b&w film
150 x 150 cm

Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group exhibition, The Avant-Garde is Not Afraid of a Long March 前卫不怕远征难 at ShanghART, Singapore
Open Now
16 February–28 April 2019 Group exhibition The Avant-Garde is Not Afraid of a Long March 前卫不怕远征难 ShanghART, Singapore
Contemporary art exhibition, Yang Fudong, Yang Fudong at Marian Goodman Gallery, London
30 May–26 July 2019 Yang Fudong Yang Fudong Marian Goodman Gallery, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, White Flash at ShanghART, Beijing
5–31 August 2018 Group Exhibition White Flash ShanghART, Beijing

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

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Yang Fudong Ocula Conversation Yang Fudong Artist, China

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 Gallery...

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Six top shows to see in Shanghai this September Ocula Report Six top shows to see in Shanghai this September 3 Sep 2015 : Sam Gaskin for Ocula

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 RoomChinese-Indonesian collector Budi Tek's Yuz Museum is a destination in itself,...

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Serge Tiroche Ocula Conversation Serge Tiroche Co-founder, the Tiroche DeLeon Collection

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 5 Jun 2015 : Jane O’Sullivan for Ocula

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...

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In Related Press

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

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 Art Radar Journal : 5 September 2016

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 2016...

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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 CAFA ART INFO : 12 July 2016

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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Redefining Chinese artists, in Qatar Related Press Redefining Chinese artists, in Qatar The New York Times : 28 March 2016

Sitting in a Zen-inspired studio in a converted school building on the Lower East Side, the Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang bemoaned how his native country’s art is often squeezed between pronouncements of record auction prices and denouncements of China’s one-party political system when it is presented in the United States and to some...

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