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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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Endless Peaks 2 by Yang Fudong contemporary artwork painting, sculpture
Yang FudongEndless Peaks 2, 2020Acrylic on canvas, photography, coated mirror glasses. Mounted on aluminium, stainless steel black frame, 17 pieces
90 x 50 cm
ShanghART Contact Gallery
Beyond GOD and Evil — The Divine Assembly 5 by Yang Fudong contemporary artwork painting, print
Yang FudongBeyond GOD and Evil — The Divine Assembly 5, 2019Acrylic on inkjet print
195 x 135 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
The Light That I feel 7 我感受到的光 7 by Yang Fudong contemporary artwork photography
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 Contact Gallery
Moving Mountains 2 by Yang Fudong contemporary artwork photography
Yang FudongMoving Mountains 2, 2016B&W inkjet print on Hahnemuhle Ultra smooth paper 305g
76 x 115 cm
ShanghART Contact Gallery
The Light That I Feel 1 by Yang Fudong contemporary artwork photography
Yang FudongThe Light That I Feel 1, 2014B&W inkjet
120 x 180 cm
ShanghART Contact Gallery
Yejiang/The Nightman Cometh by Yang Fudong contemporary artwork photography
Yang FudongYejiang/The Nightman Cometh, 2011Black and white inkjet print
120 x 180 cm
Not for sale

Yang Fudong Recent Exhibitions

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Yang Fudong Represented By

Marian Goodman Gallery contemporary art gallery in New York, USA Marian Goodman Gallery London, New York, Paris
ShanghART contemporary art gallery in Singapore ShanghART Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore

Yang Fudong In Ocula Magazine

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Yang Fudong In Related Press

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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. So

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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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Yang Fudong In Video & Audio

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