Originally organized for the Walker Art Center by Chief Curator Philippe Vergne with Assistant Curator Doryun Chong.
Beijing presentation is organized by UCCA coordinating curator David Spalding.
Presented in exhibition hall 1.
Following its inaugural exhibition ’85 New Wave: The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art, UCCA presents House of Oracles: A Huang Yong Ping Retrospective from March 22 – June 8, 2008. The first retrospective of the Chinese-born, Paris-based artist originated at the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, USA), and was shown at Mass MoCa in North Adams, Massachusetts and the Vancouver Art Gallery in Vancouver, Canada, before traveling to its final venue at UCCA in Beijing. House of Oracles showcases the most representative works by Huang Yong Ping from 1985 to the present. Navigating the divide between East and West, tradition and the avant-garde, the exhibition’s presentation at UCCA—the only Asian stop on its tour—marks the first ever large-scale exhibition in China of this major figure in Chinese contemporary art, providing UCCA’s local audience with an opportunity to see a large selection of Huang’s most important sculptures and installations.
Born in China in 1954, Huang Yong Ping immigrated to Paris in 1989 and has been living and working there ever since. Working across diverse traditions and media, Huang Yong Ping has created an artistic universe comprised of provocative installations that challenge the viewer to reconsider everything from the idea of art to national identity and recent history. Once the leading figure of the mid-1980s Xiamen Dada movement—a collective of artists interested in creating a new Chinese cultural identity by bridging trends in Western modernism with Chinese traditions of Zen and Taoism as well as contemporary reality—Huang continues to undermine established definitions of history and aesthetics. His sculptures and installations—drawing on the Western legacies of Joseph Beuys, Arte Povera, and John Cage, among others, as well as traditional Chinese art and philosophy— juxtapose traditional objects or iconic images with modern references and new constructions that provide refreshing perspectives on reality.
An important presence in the global art world since he participated in the groundbreaking 1989 exhibition Magiciens de la Terre (Magicians of the Earth) at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, Huang has shown his often breathtaking sculptures and installations in major contemporary art venues and at prestigious festivals in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. He was invited to the 1997 Kwangju Biennial in Korea and the Johannesburg Biennial in South Africa. In 1998 he was a finalist for the Hugo Boss award at the Guggenheim Museum. In 1999, his work was shown along with Jean-Pierre Bertrand’s work in the French national pavilion. In 2000 he participated in the Shanghai Biennial and in 2001 Huang was invited to participate in the Yokohama Triennial. In 2003 he participated in the Venice Bienniale in Italy, and in 2004, the São Paulo Biennale. He has been included in group exhibitions at, among many others, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, P.S. 1 and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Huang’s works are widely collected by internationally recognized museums and foundations.
House of Oracles was conceived as a “comprehensive work of art,” a singular, immersive sculptural environment. The exhibition is being designed by Huang as a metaphorical—and sometimes literal—journey through the “belly of the beast.” At the entrance of the exhibition, a monumental sculpture of an elephant mounted by a snarling tiger is installed, a commentary on hunting safaris of bygone colonial days; passages formed by cages once inhabited by lions, with routes marked by light boxes are reminiscent of an airport immigration checkpoint: “National” and “Other.” The “spine” of the installation is a twenty-five meter long wood python suspended from the ceiling. In its close proximity, a tent storing various divination tools is set up, which then leads viewers to a replica of a Beaux Arts-style bank building from 1920s Shanghai, a construction that was later used for other purposes. The artist wished to transcend the naïvete of anti-colonialism through the slow disintegration of a mold of sand and concrete during the exhibition’s run.
UCCA’s presentation of House of Oracles: A Huang Yong Ping Retrospective will be accompanied by a 250-page, fully illustrated catalogue, available in both English and Chinese, the first to address the full range of Huang Yong Ping’s artistic accomplishments. Included will be an anthology of the artist’s writings; essays by initiating Walker Art Center curator Philippe Vergne, critic-curator Hou Hanru and Ullens Foundation director Fei Dawei; and a conceptual map and dictionary of the artist’s work. During the duration of House of Oracles: A Huang Yong Ping Retrospective, UCCA has also organized education workshops, artist’s dialogues and symposiums, and wishes to provide visitors to this exhibition a deeper understanding of Huang’s artistic practice through these educational events.
House of Oracles: A Huang Yong Ping Retrospective is organized and curated by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. It is made possible by generous support from Altria Group, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Etant Donnés: The French-American Fund for Contemporary Art, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. The Beijing presentation is organized by the Ullens Center for Contemporary Arts.