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b. 1943, China

Yu Youhan Biography

Along with LI Shan and WANG Guangyi, YU Youhan is one of the main artists of Political Pop who emerged in the avant-garde movement in the 1990's, fusing Chinese iconography and Western artistic expression. His work has had a major impact on the cultural scene, and influenced and inspired a generation of younger artists. YU Youhan's earlier work is directly influenced by his experiences during the Cultural Revolution, with prominent imagery of political propaganda and socialist realism. Before constructing this pictorial universe, he practiced an informal and materialist abstraction. His work unravels and reconstructs the meandering histories of diverse environments. As reflected in his pictures, YU Youhan employs an aesthetic methodology that blends and exceeds seemingly contradictory visual traditions. He earned fame with his highly acclaimed Mao portrait series. He decorates the iconic images with flowers that blend into the foreground and background. It is not only a decorative gesture, but also an attempt to humanize the late leader.

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YU Youhan has recently shifted his artistic approach in search of a new paint language and subject matter. His latest work consists of landscape paintings that resemble pastorals of a forgotten utopia. YU Youhan’s extensive oeuvre combines multiple perspectives and investigates the structure of cultural identity in China through an ongoing exploration of various pictorial techniques. His paintings remain ubiquitous yet intriguing.

YU Youhan was born in Shanghai in 1943. He graduated from the Central Academy of Art and Design, Beijing in 1973. Now he resides and works in Shanghai. YU Youhan's work has shown widely nationally as well as internationally. Recent exhibitions include: Yu Youhan's Paintings, ShanghART H-Space, Shanghai (2011); Out of Shanghai, Museum gegenstandsfreier Kunst, Otterndorf, Germany (2009); Writing on the Wall, Chinese New Realism and Avant-Garde in the Eighties and Nineties, The Groninger Museum, Groningen, The Netherlands (2008); Study Practice, Shanghai Gallery of Art, Shanghai (2005); Chine, le Corps Partout?, Musee d'Art Contemporain, Paris, France (2004); Museum of Contemporary Art, Marseilles, France (2004) and Landscape of Yi Mengshan, ShanghART H-Space, Shanghai (2004). He has also exhibited in the 22nd Sao Paulo Biennale (1994), the 45th Venice Biennale (1993) and the 1st Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (Brisbane, 1991). 

Exhibition view: Yu Youhan, Cycle · Freedom: Yu Youhan's Abstract Works in the 2010s, ShanghART, Beijing (16 May–30 August 2020). Courtesy ShanghART.

Yu Youhan Featured Artworks

View All (53)
Abstract 2018·7-2 by Yu Youhan contemporary artwork
Yu YouhanAbstract 2018·7-2, 2018Acrylic on canvas
127 x 154 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Contact Gallery
2018.5-13 by Yu Youhan contemporary artwork
Yu Youhan2018.5-13, 2018Acrylic on canvas
50 x 50 cm
ShanghART Contact Gallery
Circle 2016 Green by Yu Youhan contemporary artwork
Yu YouhanCircle 2016 Green, 2016Natural pigments on handmade kozo paper
100 x 130 cm
Rén Space Contact Gallery
Abstract 2018•9-2 抽象 2018•9-2 by Yu Youhan contemporary artwork
Yu YouhanAbstract 2018•9-2 抽象 2018•9-2, 2018Acrylic on canvas
162 x 156 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Contact Gallery
2010.03.31 by Yu Youhan contemporary artwork
Yu Youhan2010.03.31, 2010Acrylic on canvas
150 x 150 cm
ShanghART Contact Gallery
Untitled (Red and Yellow) by Yu Youhan contemporary artwork
Yu YouhanUntitled (Red and Yellow), 1990Acrylic on canvas
119 x 165.5 cm
Alisan Fine Arts Contact Gallery
Red Sun 红太阳 by Yu Youhan contemporary artwork
Yu YouhanRed Sun 红太阳, 2018Acrylic on canvas
101 x 117 cm
ShanghART Contact Gallery
2010.09.13 by Yu Youhan contemporary artwork
Yu Youhan2010.09.13Acrylic on canvas
107 x 95 cm
ShanghART Contact Gallery

Yu Youhan Current & Recent Exhibitions

View All (11)
Contemporary art exhibition, Yu Youhan, Cycle · Freedom: Yu Youhan's Abstract Works in the 2010s at ShanghART, Beijing
Open Now
16 May–30 September 2020 Yu Youhan Cycle · Freedom: Yu Youhan's Abstract Works in the 2010s ShanghARTBeijing
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Cache: From B to Z at ShanghART, Shanghai
Closed
12 April–30 August 2020 Group Exhibition Cache: From B to Z ShanghARTWestbund, Shanghai
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Painting and Existence at Tang Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
Closed
15 February–16 March 2019 Group Exhibition Painting and Existence Tang Contemporary ArtHong Kong

Yu Youhan Represented By

Alisan Fine Arts contemporary art gallery in Central, Hong Kong Alisan Fine Arts Hong Kong
Rén Space contemporary art gallery in Shanghai, China Rén Space Shanghai
ShanghART contemporary art gallery in Singapore ShanghART Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore

Yu Youhan In Related Press

Art Central Hong Kong 2017: A stage for emerging artists and dynamic performances Related Press Art Central Hong Kong 2017: A stage for emerging artists and dynamic performances 1 April 2017, Art Radar Journal

The third edition of Art Central’s show in Hong Kong closed on Saturday, 25 March 2017. Timed to coincide with Swiss mega fair Art Basel Hong Kong, the younger art fair Art Central took place from the 21 to 25 March 2017 on the Central Harbourfront during Hong Kong Art Week. The fair was staged in a custom-designed 10,000-square-metre tent...

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Historical sorting and academic research: 'The Research Exhibition of Abstract Art in China' opened at Today Art Museum Related Press Historical sorting and academic research: 'The Research Exhibition of Abstract Art in China' opened at Today Art Museum 3 February 2016, Cafa Art Info

In the developing context of Western art, the use of Renaissance to express the spiritual pursuit of “humans”, the painting logic then expresses the true objective and narrative was gradually created, along with the high development of industrial civilization, the abstract art that is less narrative and of much spiritual expression...

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