Biography

b. 1956 in Foshan, Guangdong Province, China; lives and works in Paris, France, and Ittlingen, Germany

 

Yang Jiechang’s artistic practice as a calligrapher-painter turned global social actor inverts the contemporary Chinese art world norm of using Western avant-garde forms to critique contemporary Chinese society. He accomplishes this by adopting the performative expressivity of the traditional brush and the paradoxical dialectics of pre-modern Daoist skeptics to expose the underlying social and cultural forces that shape our contemporary global reality. Starting with his censored Massacre series in which he confronts the human toll of politically-violent authoritarian government, and continuing with his Crying Landscape series which he created for the 2003 Venice Biennale, Yang has made the critique of power, wealth, violence and terror central concerns of his artistic practice. With his purely abstract Layers of Ink works, which he inaugurated for the seminal 1989 trans-national show Magiciens de la Terre, and his figurative Ascension and Tales of the Eleventh Day series, Yang deals with the contrasting themes of material and spiritual transcendence, liberation of the individual, universal love and nature. When Yang deploys seductively masterful technique in service of psychologically disturbing or even horrifying imagery, our experience approaches the sublime—a realization of the inhuman that is both monstrous and transcendent.

 

Already in his student days at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts where his graduation project Massacre (1982) on the devastation of the Cultural Revolution was censored, Yang Jiechang had adopted the position of provocateur. Following graduation he withdrew from art to study with Buddhist and Daoist masters. This led him to search for simplicity when he returned to painting. In 1988 he moved to Europe, where he has remained, living between Paris and a village near Heidelberg. In 1989 he participated in both the seminal Contemporary Chinese Artexhibition at the National Art Museum in Beijing and the equally paradigm-changing exhibition Les Magiciens de la Terre at the Centre Georges Pompidou where he created his artworks on site. Since then Yang has exhibition widely throughout Europe and Asia and was featured in both the China Avant-garde exhibition at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin (1993) and in the 50th  edition of the Venice Biennale (2003). In the past five years, Yang’s work has been included in numerous international exhibitions, including the Lyon Biennial (Lyon, 2009), Qui a peur des artistes? Une sélection d'oeuvres de la Fondation François Pinault (Musée de Dinard, Dinard, 2009), Hareng Saur: Ensor et Contemparain (MSK and S.M.A.K., Ghent, Belgium, 2010), The World Belongs to You  (Palazzo Grassi, Fondation F. Pinault, Venice, 2011), Reactivation – Shanghai Biennale (Shanghai, 2012), Yuandao (Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 2013) and Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China (Metropolitan Museum, New York, 2013-2014, and most recently Advance through Retreat (Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, 2014).

 

For his solo exhibition at Ink Studio in May 2014, This Is Still Landscape Painting, Yang concludes his Tales of the Eleventh Day series in which he explores the transcendence of all categories and inaugurates his latest inquiries on moral cultivation based on the paintings and sketches by a young Adolf Hitler.

 

In his Tales of the Eleventh Day, Yang uses the techniques of Tang dynasty Daoist and Buddhist religious mural painting to depict an imagined paradise loosely based on the setting for the Decameron, a work of fourteenth century Florentine literature by Giovanni Boccaccio. In these works, Yang depicts wild animals and naked human figures in various configurations of sexual and affectionate, cross-species coupling. Whether copulating, embracing or merely observing, it becomes clear the Yang's imagined paradise of sex and love is a non-coercive one—power dynamics and violence are completely missing. For This is Still Landscape Painting, Yang completed the final works in this series including the monumental eleven-meter, eight-panel Black and White Mustard Seed Garden (2009-2014).

 

In his newest series, Yang Jiechang employs the meticulous traditional Chinese brush technique of Song Dynasty court artists to copy works that Adolf Hitler painted in 1914, at age 25. In the Confucian tradition, students learn by copying their teachers brushstroke for brushstroke. In so doing, they attempt to learn not just the painting technique, but also the moral virtues of their masters. As a Daoist, however, Yang believes that only through studying evil can you understand virtue, and by examining the ugly can you find beauty. By adopting a young Hitler as his model, Yang uses artistic practice as a means to examine the nature of moral cultivation and the origins of evil.  Works in the These are Still Landscapes and These are Still Flowers series are part of this new body of work.

 

A final dimension to Yang’s practice is his rendering of texts in response to current events in both Chinese and Roman alphabet scripts. In response to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, Yang signified the shock and disbelief of the international bystander with the phrases “Oh My God” in English and “Oh Fuck” in Cantonese. Executed upside-down, Yang’s brushed lines —in both Chinese and in Roman scripts— exude a raw, expressive power based on decades of calligraphic training.

 

Among other places, Yang’s work can be found in the collections of Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn; Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, Stanford; Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley; The World Bank, Washington; Rockefeller Foundation, New York; Ministry of Culture, France; M+ Museum, Hong Kong; Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong; Hong Kong University Art Museum, Hong Kong; Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou; Chengdu Museum of Art, Chengdu; Shenzhen Fine Art Institute, Shenzhen; Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka; Sonje Museum of Contemporary Art, Kyongju, Korea; Museum for Arts and Crafts, Hamburg; Annie Wong Art Foundation, Vancouver; Swatch Collection, Switzerland; François Pinault Foundation, France; Ullens Foundation, Switzerland; Yageo Art Foundation, Taiwan; and Eslite Inc., Taiwan.

 

Yang is the subject of the documentary film “Yang Jiechang’s Gu and Qi,” in the series The Enduring Passion of Ink, directed and produced by Britta Erickson and filmed by Richard Widmer. Yang also is the subject of the forthcoming in-depth monograph Yang Jiechang: 道可 道非 No Way All Ways, edited by Britta Erickson and with essays by Martina Köppel-Yang and Nataline Colonello, distributed internationally by D.A.P.

CV

 

Currently

         

Lives and works in Paris (France) and Ittlingen (Germany)

1956

         

Born in Foshan, Guangdong province, China

             

 

         

 

EDUCATION 

1982-89

 

   

Taught at Chinese Painting Department, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, Guangzhou, China

1978-82 

   

Studied Chinese painting in Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, Guangzhou, China

1974-78

 

   

Studied paper mounting, folk-art and traditional Chinese painting at the Foshan Folk Art Research Institute, Foshan, China

             

 

         

 

AWARDS & HONORS

2003

 

         

Residency at Kunstwerke, Berlin, Germany, supported by the French Association for Artistic Action (AFAA)

1990

         

Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant, New York, U.S.A.

             

 

         

 

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2017

 

         

Presence and Absence: Nature in French Landscape Garden and Chinese Garden, Boxes Art Museum, Shunde, China

           

Mustard Seed Garden – Mayland Lake, Art House, Guangzhou, China

Earth Roots: Yang Jiechang Paintings, 1985-1999, Ink Studio, Beijing, China

Yang Jiechang: This is still Bird and Flower PaintingAlisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong S.A.R., China

Yang Jiechang: The Whip, Chambers Fine Art, New York, U.S.A.

2016

 

         

Like in Heaven So on Earth, Galerie Jeanne Bucher Jaeger, Paris, France

2015

 

         

Underground Flowers – Yang Jiechang, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France

 

         

Good Morning Hong Kong, Hong Kong Central Library, Hong Kong S.A.R., China

2014

 

 

         

Yang Jiechang–I often do bad things, Deichtorhallen/Phoenixhalle, Hamburg, Germany

Yang Jiechang: Die Rechnung bitte, ARNDT Berlin, Berlin, Germany

           

Yang Jiechang: This Is Still Landscape Painting, Ink Studio, Beijing, China  

2012

 

         

King of Canton-Yang Jiechang, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong S.A.R.

Tale of the 11th Day, OCT Art & Design Gallery, Shenzhen, China

2011

 

 

         

Stranger than Paradise, La Criée centre d'art contemporain, Rennes, France

Tale of the 11th Day, Galerie Jaeger Bucher, Paris, France

Tale of the 11th Day, Tang Contemporary Art Center, Beijing, China

2010

 

 

 

 

         

New Ink Art by Yang Jiechang, Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center, Hong Kong S.A.R., China

Yang Jiechang, Galerie Conrads, Düsseldorf, Germany

Underground Flowers, Musée d'Histoire Naturelle de Rouen, Festival Automne en Normandie, Rouen, France

2009

 

 

         

On Ascension, Galerie Jaeger Bucher, Paris, France

Territoria, special project, Associazione Culturale Cantiere d'Arte Alberto Moretti-Galleria Schema, Prato, Italy

2008

 

 

         

No–Shadow Kick, Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, China

In God We Trust, Department of Chemical and Systems Biology, Stanford University Medical School, Stanford, Palo Alto, U.S.A.

2007

 

         

The Most Beautiful Country of China: New Works by Yang Jiechang, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong S.A.R.

2006

         

Idylls, Grace Li Gallery, Zürich, Switzerland

2005

 

 

         

Black – Extreme – Vigorous – Figurative, Shenzhen Fine Art Institute, China

Memorandums, Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris, France

Who Occupies the Space?, Isola d'Arte, Milan, Italy

2003

 

         

Lohkchat!, Centre A, Vancouver, Canada

For Emily, Gallery 4A, Sydney, Australia

2002

         

Der längste Tag, Kunstverein Nürtingen, Nürtingen, Germany

2001

 

 

 

         

Enlightened Blackness: Ink Paintings by Yang Jiechang, Alisan Fine Arts; University Museum and Art Gallery, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong S.A.R.

Double View, Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris, France

100 Layers of Ink, Eslite Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan

2000

         

You–Double View, Project Room, ARCO 2000, Madrid, Spain

1999

 

         

Another Turn of the Screw, CAFA Art Museum, Beijing, China

Recreate "Dong Cun Rui", Eslite Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan

1998

         

Your Customs–Our Customs, Altes Zollamt, Frankfurt, Germany

1996

         

Chinese ink painting on paper, Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris, France

1995

 

         

Solo exhibition, Galerie Samuel Lallouz, Montreal, Canada

Solo exhibition, Galerie Alice Pauli, Lausanne, Switzerland

1994

 

         

Cut the Fingernails from My Body, Le Faubourg - l'espace d'art contemporain, Strasbourg, France

1993

         

Rencontres dans un couloir, Private apartment of Hou Hanru, Paris, France

1992

 

 

         

Troisième demeure mondiale, Frankfurt, Germany

Solo exhibition, Gallery Turbulences, New York, U.S.A.

Solo exhibition, Gallery Jeanne Bucher, Paris, France

1991

         

Works on Paper, Frith Street Gallery, London, U.K.

1990

 

 

         

Salon de Mars, booth of the Gallery Jeanne Bucher, Paris, France

Solo exhibition, Gallery Jeanne Bucher, Paris, France

Voyage au Mexique, Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, Mexico

1988

 

         

Exhibition of Star No. 9, Central Park Gallery, Canton Artists Association, Guangzhou, China

             

 

         

 

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2018

         

Sprachgefühl, Parasite, Hong Kong S.A.R., China

           

Splendors of the Sun and Moon, Museo Querinei Stampalia Fondazione, Venice, Italy 

           

Beyond the Scenery, OCT Loft exhibition, Shenzhen, China 

Approach Spirits, N3 Contemporary, Beijing, China

Post-Brushwork Era: Chinese Landscapes, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China

2017

         

Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World, the Guggenheim Museum, New York, U.S.A.

           

PASSION DE L’ART: Galerie Jeanne Bucher Haeger depuis 1925Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence, France

Corps et Ames – Un regard prospectif/Body and Spirit – A prospective gaze, Galerie Jeanne Bucher Jaeger, Paris, France

China Now: New Literati Art, Ink Studio at ART100, New York, U.S.A

2016

 

 

 

         

Ink and the Mind, Ink Studio, Beijing, China

Fragmentary Narratives, Stanford Art Gallery, Stanford, U.S.A.
Carambolages, Grand Palais, Paris, France

About Painting, Galerie Jeanne Bucher Jaeger, Paris, France

2015

         

Fragmentary Narratives, Changsha Museum, Changsha, China

            A Hundreds Years of Shame—Songs of Resistance and Scenarios for Chinese Nation, Para Site, Hongkong S.A.R., China

2014

 

 

         

Advance through Retreat, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, China

China's Changing Landscape, Nordic Watercolor Museum, Sweden

Ink and the Body, Ink Studio, Beijing, China

2013

 

 

 

 

 

         

Zizhiqu/ Autonomous Regions, Times Museum, Guangzhou, China

From Gesture to Language, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, China

The Origin of Dao: New Dimension in Chinese Contemporary Art, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong S.A.R., China

Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, U.S.A.

2012

 

 

         

Reactivation: The 9th Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai, China

Clouds, The Museum of Sketches for Public Art, Lund, Sweden

Sehnsucht, Castel Gaasbeeck, Belgium

2011

 

 

         

Death Matters, Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The World Belongs to You, Palazzo Grassi, Fondation F. Pinault, Venice, Italy

Tracing the Milky Way, Tang Contemporary Art Center, Beijing, China

2010

 

 

 

 

 

         

Le Jardin Emprunté, Jardin du Palais-Royal, Paris, France

Hareng Saur: Ensor et l'art contemporain, MSK and S.M.A.K., Ghent, Belgium

L'Océan, Espace Bellevue, Biarritz, France

Grande Veillée d'Automne en Normandie, Rouen, France

30 Years of Contemporary Chinese Art, Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, China

Art for the World: The Expo-The City of Forking Paths, Expo Boulevard, Shanghai, China

2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

Against Exclusion: 3rd Moscow Biennial, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia

10th Lyon Biennale: The Spectacle of the Everyday, Musée d'art contemporain de Lyon, Lyon, France

Qui a peur des artistes ? Une sélection d'œuvres de la Fondation François Pinault, Musée de Dinard, France

Time Versus Fashion, Kunstverein Nürtingen, Nuremberg, Germany

Becoming Intense, Becoming Animal, Becoming . . . , Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany

Form, Idea, Essence and Rhythm: New Aspects of Contemporary East Asian Ink Painting, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei,Taiwan, China

Broadsheet Notations: Epilogue, Tang Contemporary Art Center (Hong Kong), Hong Kong S.A.R., China

2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

Onda Anomala–Manifesta 7, Trento, Italy

Our Future: The Guy & Myriam Ullens Foundation Collection, special project, UCCA, Beijing, China

OPEN/ INVITED e v+ a 2008: Too Early For Vacation, RV&A, Limerick City, Ireland

The 3rd Guangzhou Triennial, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China

Expansion–Résonance, Galerie Jaeger Bucher, Paris, France

New Ink Art: Innovation and Beyond, The Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong S.A.R., China

2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

The 10th International Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, Istanbul, Turkey

'85 New Wave Movement: The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art, UCCA, Beijing, China

Metamorphosis: The Generation of Transformation in Chinese Contemporary Art, Tampere Art Museum, Tampere, Finland

Yan Pei-Ming–Gu Dexin–Yang Jiechang, Red Mansion Foundation, London, U.K.

Made in China, Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark

Who Do You Think You Are?, Tang Contemporary Art Center, Beijing, China

2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool, U.K. 

Laboratoire pour un avenir incertain, La force de l'art: 1st Paris Triennial, Grand Palais, Paris, France

La revoluzione siamo noi, Isola Art Center, Milan, Italy

Capolavoro, Palazzo Primavera, Terni, Italy

Infiltration–Idylls and Visions, Guangdong Museum of Art, China

Surplus Value, Tang Contemporary Art Center, Beijing, China

The 5th International Ink Painting Biennial of Shenzhen: Taste, Guan Shanyue Art Museum, Shenzhen, China

Accumulation: Canton Express Next Stop, Tang Contemporary Art Center, Beijing, China

Microcosm, Macao Museum of Art, Macao S.A.R., China

2005

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

Beyond, Second Guangzhou Triennial, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China

Layered Landscapes, Stanford Art Gallery, Stanford, U.S.A.

Emergency Biennial, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France; Grozny, Chechen Republic

Experimental Ink, Museum of the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taipei and Taichung, Taiwan, China

Beyond Boundaries: Shanghai Gallery of Art 04' - 05', Shanghai Gallery of Art, Shanghai, China

2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

Nuit Blanche, Paris, France

Stopover Hong Kong, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong S.A.R.

Le moine et le démon, Musée d'Art Contemporain de Lyon, Lyon, France

A l'est du sud de l'ouest, Villa Arson, Nice/Credac Sète, Nice, France

Odyssey(s) 2004, Shanghai Gallery of Art, Shanghai, China

All under Heaven, Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, Antwerp, Belgium

GAP, Heidelberger Kunstverein, Heidelberger, Germany

The 4th International Ink Painting Biennial of Shenzhen, Shenzhen Art Museum, Shenzhen, China; Guan Shanyue Art Museum, Shenzhen, China

Open: The Inaugural Exhibition of Grace Alexander Contemporary Art, Grace Alexander Contemporary Art Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland

2003

 

 

 

         

Zone of Urgency: 50th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

The Fifth System: 5th International Shenzhen Sculpture Exhibition, China

Playing at Home/Playing Away: The Maze of Reality, Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou, China

2002

 

 

 

 

         

Pause: Kwangju Biennial, Kwangju, South Korea

The 1st Guangzhou Triennial, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China

The 3rd International Ink Painting Biennial of Shenzhen: Metropolis Ink Painting, Guan Shanyue Art Museum, Shenzhen, China

Paris-Pékin, Espace Cardin, Paris, France

2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

Chengdu Biennale 2001, Museum of Contemporary Art Chengdu, Chengdu, China

Towards New Image: 20 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art, The National Art Museum of China, Bejing, China; The Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China; Sichuan Art Museum, Chengdu, China; Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China

1st Space for Contemporary Ink Work – China: 20 Years of Ink Experiment 1980-2001, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China

Centre de Refuge, Centre International de Poesie, Marseille, France

2000

 

 

 

 

 

         

Paris pour Escale, Musée d'art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France

Continental Shift, Musée d'art Moderne et d'art Contemporain, Liège, Belgium

A Portrait, Agnès B. Gallery, New York, U.S.A.

Fuori Uso 2000: the Bridges, Pescara, Italy

The 2rd International Ink Painting Biennial of Shenzhen, Guan Shanyue Art Museum, Shenzhen, China

1999

 

 

 

         

Art in March-Legend 99, Nantou, Taiwan, China

ASIART 99, Biennale d'arte contemporanea, Museum of Contemporary Art at the Villa Croce, Genova, Italy

Magnetic Writing/ Marching Ideas: Works on Paper, IT Park Gallery , Taipei, Taiwan

1998

 

 

 

 

         

Les magiciens de la terre, Anina Nosei Gallery, New York, U.S.A.

4696/1998: Contemporary Art from China, Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York, U.S.A.

Shanghai Biennale 1998, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China

The 1st International Ink Painting Biennial of Shenzhen, Guan Shanyue Art Museum, Shenzhen, China

1997

 

 

 

 

 

         

In Between Limits, Sonje Museum of Contemporary Art, Kyongju, South Korea

Between the Sky and the Earth: Five Contemporary Chinese Artists around the World, University Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong S.A.R., China

Uncertain Pleasure, Art Beatus Gallery, Vancouver, Canada

Art Chinois Contemporain, Espace Belleville, Paris, France

1996

         

East–West, Heidelberger Kunstverein, Heidelberg, Germany

1995

 

 

         

West–Östliche Kontakte–Yang Jiechang, Young-Hyang Lee, Teruko Hiramatsu, Heidelberger Kunstverein, Heidelberg, Germany

Über Höderlin, Hölderlinturm, Tübingen, Germany

1994

 

 

 

         

Out of the Centre, Pori Art Museum, Pori, Finland

China Avant-Garde: Counter-Currents in Art and Culture, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany; Kunsthal Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; The Museum of Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, U.K.; Kunsthallen Brandts Klædefabrik, Odense, Denmark

1993

 

 

         

Coalition, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, U.K.

Silent Energy: New Art from China, The Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, Oxford, U.K.

Mao's Untamed Children, Museum für Kunsthandwerk, Frankfurt, Germany

1992

 

 

         

My Home Is Your Home, The International Artists' Museum, Lodz, Poland

Looking for the Tree of Life–Journey to the Asian Contemporary Art, Saitama Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, Japan

1991

         

Exceptional Passage, Museum City Project, Fukuoka, Japan

1990

         

Chine demain pour hier, Pourrières, France

1989

 

 

         

Exhibition of Chinese Contemporary Art, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China

Les magiciens de la terre, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France

Today, Gallery Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

             

 

         

 

SELECTED COLLECTIONS

Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, U.S.A.

Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, U.S.A.

The World Bank, Washington, U.S.A.

Rockefeller Foundation, New York, U.S.A.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, U.S.A.

Ministry of Culture, France

M+ Museum, Hong Kong S.A.R., China

Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong S.A.R., China

University Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong S.A.R., China

Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China

Museum of Contemporary Art Chengdu, Chengdu, China

Shenzhen Fine Art Institute, Shenzhen, China

Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan

Sonje Museum of Contemporary Art, Kyongju, Korea

Museum of Arts and Crafts, Hamburg, Germany

Annie Wong Art Foundation, Vancouver, Canada

Swatch Collection, Switzerland

François Pinault Foundation, France

Ullens Foundation, Switzerland

Yageo Art Foundation, Taiwan

Eslite Inc., Taiwan

 

Last Updated: August 2018

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