Destinies - EXTRA CONTENT Huang Yong Ping
08.02.2010 | 19.03.2010
Massimo De Carlo, London
Carlson is delighted to present Destinies, Yan Pei-Ming’s first gallery exhibition in the UK in the last ten years. Regarded as one of the greatest living painters, Yan Pei-Ming (Shanghai, 1960) has a work that demands very strong and often contradictory terms to be described. In fact, his practice is grounded both in classical Chinese painting, in which figuration and abstraction are diluted one inside the other, and in Western tradition, observed in the expressiveness with which he depicts his subjects, being them persons, landscapes or other figures. For this exhibition Yan Pei-Ming entangled a dialogue between two symbolic figures: Elizabeth II, and Puyi, the last Emperor of China, and between two moments, for both sovereignties are represented in their youth and in their elderly condition. At the same time, this multicultural dialogue of rulers is traversed by a third element, that of the representation of the artist. However, it is not a traditional self-portrait done in the same large-scale depiction of the busts of the potentates. In Dead Artist, Yan Pei-Ming provocatively depicts himself in the same position of Andrea Mantegna’s famous Dead Christ. Doing so, he is not only appropriating one of the most iconic paintings of the Renaissance tradition, but he is also replacing the figure of Christ by his own. With this gesture, he turns himself into a symbol at the same high of importance as the two most representative icons of England and China. Working from memory or from photographic images, his paintings intertwine personal and cultural imagery: fame and anonymity, public figure or intimate subject, death or live, all these questions are resolved inside his works that are, above anything, a deep and often harsh reflection on human condition. As the artists stated in an interview with curator Hou Hanru in 2006, “I am interested in humanity rather than individuality”. Following this reflection about life and death, power and dignity, Huang Yong Ping (Xiamen, China, 1954) has created an installation for the Carlson spaces that reads both as a reaction to an original project that had to be altered due to British Law on animal cruelty as well as a thought provoking statement on the relationship between the art dealer and artist. By playing with size, with visual similarities and referencing Maurizio Cattelan’s ‘A perfect day’ (1999) , the work draws parallels between insects like crickets, known for their thirst for destruction, and the gallery owner Mr De Carlo; here shown on the front cover of a French book that reproduces Maurizio Cattelan’s work.