Huang Yongping

Artist: Huang Yongping 黄永砅

DOB: 1954
POB: Xiamen, Fujian Province
Education: Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (1982)
Lives and works: Paris (since 1989)
No. works in collection: 2
Brief Bio:
Born in Xiamen, Fujian Province in 1954, Huang Yongping studied painting at the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now the China Academy of Art) in Hangzhou just after the Cultural Revolution, graduating in 1982. In 1989 Huang Yongping participated in Magiciens de la Terre in Paris, one of the first exhibitions outside China to show work by Chinese avant-garde artists. The Tiananmen events took place while Huang was in Paris and he has lived there ever since, representing France at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999. Since 1989 Huang’s work has been shown in significant exhibitions and museums in China and internationally, including Art and China After 1989: Theater of the World, Guggenheim Museum, New York (2017). A travelling retrospective, House of Oracles, was shown at Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2008), Vancouver Art Gallery (2007), MASS MOCA, Massachusetts (2006) and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2005).

Artworks

#1. Accession Number: 2018.001 Title: Les Consoles de Jeu Souveraines Date: 2017 Broad Medium: Sculpture, Installation/Sculpture Specific Materials: steel, aluminium, wood, plastic, fiberglass, paper, straw and animal fur/skin (horse) Dimensions: 370 x 550 (diameter) cm Description: A carousel-like structure with green curtains, animals (tiger, headless horse, frog, cicada etc) and cast iron ‘weights’ in the form of Hong Kong islands – parts revolve in different directions

Exhibition History: Tang Contemporary Hong Kong 2017-Jan 2018 (prior to acquisition)
Les Consoles de Jeu Souveraines (2017) was created for an exhibition in Hong Kong in late 2017, and reflects in oblique and poetic ways on prescient themes of territorial conquest and political power. Les Consoles de Jeu Souveraines takes the form of an archaic decorated carousel inspired by the decaying merry-go-round that Huang Yongping sees from the window of his Paris studio. Two sections revolve in opposite directions – the larger one turns clockwise and the smaller counter-clockwise, making grinding mechanical noises rather than the expected cheerful hurdy-gurdy. The inner ring of the carousel contains what appears to be a cast iron topographical map of Hong Kong and its surrounding islands, hanging like weights on a scale. The outer ring is populated by seven animals, objects and a human figure. The creatures on this carnival ride include a headless white horse; a similarly headless, straw-stuffed creature with a newspaper skin; a hollow tiger eating a fallen wooden man; a giant green locust, the metal skeleton of a headless deer, a model aircraft carrier, and a tin frog. The symbolism of this motley assembly is complex. The deer and horse, for example, refer to a Chinese idiom, ‘point to a deer and call it a horse’, meaning to misrepresent the truth. The white horse references ‘Le Vizir’, an Arab steed given by the Ottoman sultan to Napoleon in 1808. A locust represents greed, and the paper tiger is a satirical reference to British imperialism. The tiger savaging a European soldier refers specifically to ‘Tipu’s Tiger’, an elaborate mechanised wooden toy made for the eighteenth-century ruler of the Indian Kingdom of Mysore, which is now in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. This extraordinary artefact expressed Tipu’s hatred of the British and the predations of the East India Company. Given the role of the Company in the Opium Wars, and the subsequent annexation of Hong Kong, it is a potent symbol here, revolving like the painted horse on a merry-go-round.

#2. Accession Number: 2018.002
Title: Wax Seal
Date: 2017
Broad Medium: Sculpture, Work on Paper
Specific Materials: mixed media on paper
Dimensions: 33 x 680 cm
Description: scroll-like document with calligraphy, collage, stamps and wax seals, and artist’s drawings of the carousel and animals that appear in Les Consoles de Jeu Souveraines

Exhibition History: Tang Contemporary Hong Kong 2017-Jan 2018 (prior to acquisition) Wax Seal parodies a legal document in a scroll depicting thirty-five Hong Kong islands and a mixture of treaties, pacts and agreements. As well as symbolic animals drawn in spare ink and brush, it is covered with official-looking stamps, symbols of French and British imperial power, and important red seals. The work references the Treaty of Nanking, signed on August 29, 1842, that ceded Hong Kong to the British. Huang Yongping asks us to consider the meaning of ‘sovereignty’, a term that entered the Chinese language only with the creation of the treaty ports after the mid-nineteenth century Opium Wars, a crushing humiliation for the Qing empire that continues to resonate in Chinese foreign policy. Wax Seal, with its beautiful calligraphy, and its stamps and seals, reflects on how nations and peoples are hostage to games played by the powerful.
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