Yang Yang at Gallery 456, New York, New York, 2007
456 / CAAC
Yang's work is dramatic, complex and highly associative, requiring the viewer to bring his or her own specific meaning to the work. His drawings and paintings on paper and canvas typically overflow with round, swollen figures created from a sketchy, frenetic line that injects a dynamism and energy into the work. Yang's figures, which are often joined by animals, create an edge-to-edge claustrophobic space that suggests conflict and unrest. Other works are populated by only one or two figures that seem darkly alienated or disconnected not only from each other but also their environment. Shallow, abstract grounds, or barely defined interior spaces, create even more visual disorientation, adding another layer of mystery and complexity to his narrative works. In some pieces, vivid passages of color increase the psychological intensity and uneasy atmosphere inhabiting Yang's works. Of many notable works featured in Yang's show is the epic The 3rd Megaton, a painting on paper roiling with figures that measures 54 x 336 in. (137 x 930 cm) long.
Yang's figurative sculpture, created from clay, bronze and other materials, gives a weighty, physical presence to his ideas. Often huddled in groups on the floor, for this exhibition the sculptures will be suspended from the ceiling. As in his two-dimensional works, intermingling humans and animals are round, short-limbed creatures that appear to be in conflict or turmoil.
Ultimately, Yang's narrative works are a hybrid vision of both Chinese and Western traditions. He began painting and drawing at a young age in Jiangxi Province where the Nanchang masters Fu Baoshi and Zhu Da inspired him. Influenced by classical Chinese painting and mythology, as well as Taoism, Yang's works also reveal his understanding of such modernist artists as Picasso and Francis Bacon, and the power of abstraction. Yang left his native city of Nanchang, in Jiangxi Province, China, in 1984 to study in the United States. Yang is now based in Chicago, Illinois.
Yang's work has been exhibited widely and can be found in numerous public and private collections. In 2004 he was given a solo exhibition at the Museum of Art in Shannxi, China. At that time, museum curator Lui Qi Wei described Yang's work as combining the quality of the "Oriental mystics with tragic magnificence." In 2006 Yang exhibited his work in a two-person show at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts where his dramatic, figurative work and sculptural installations garnered the attention of critics and museum visitors alike. Critic Doug Hanson wrote, "It is not nuclear energy that scares Yang. It's mankind's energy. And across Yang's pictures his energy multiplies with a grinding necessity symbolized by the big gearwheel at the center of The 3rd Megaton."
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This exhibition is organized by Gallery 456, the gallery for the Chinese-American Arts Council, and supported in part by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affair and Carnegie Corporation of New York. Established in 1975, the Chinese-American Arts Council's mission is to meet the cultural needs of an expanding immigrant population. As a service organization, CAAC presents professional, authentic programs and visual art exhibitions that embrace the Asian American cultural experience. In presenting performances and visual arts CAAC seeks to include traditional forms of art-making, which have stood the test of time, as well as recognize new emerging forms of quality that reflect contemporary influences. CAAC is the largest presenting and producing organization of performing arts and visual arts in the Chinese community. In keeping with the CAAC's dedication to promoting Asian art and artistic exchange, Gallery 456 provides new opportunities to Asian artists to show their works. Gallery 456 is located at 456 Broadway, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10013. Hours are Noon - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. For additional information, call 212.431.9740 or visit www.caacarts.org.