Gastbeitrag | Essay

The Surreal Landscape of Yang Yong Liang

by R A Suri

Contemporary photography remains perhaps the least well represented form and medium amongst conceptual artistic practice in the mainland at present. Well over a decade earlier, the works of emergent conceptual photographers such as Hong Lei, perhaps the most acclaimed artist of his generation of photographic artists, this ground began to break and a new frontier open in the vocabulary of the younger generation. Unfortunately, very few avoided the pitfalls of copy-ism and mimetic works, conveying messages altogether too similar to those of the West, rather than embracing the evolution of an intrinsic, Oriental expression which would both reflect the modern era and the experience of Chinese culture in an age of radical transition.

As a source of inspiration and upon first sight, the work of Yang Yong Liang stands apart, a rather unique personal vision is witnessed in his seminal series, Phantom Landscape, and the later series, Mystic Landscape and Lost City continue to serve as exemplary photographic experiments. Yang is a meditative artist, one who dwells upon his subject prior to his exacting process of photographing and re-photographing scenes from nature and urbanity with a digital format camera, the multiple layering which renders tremendous depth of composition and field to his works, later printed directly upon exquisite archival papers. The format and attention to materials in the workshop well reflect his formal and traditional education with ink wash, calligraphy and print techniques, his experiments remain rooted in the spirit of Chinese tradition while depicting near apocalyptic and ultra-modern landscapes and urban realities.

The facile dichotomy of East-West & representation are challenged in his work, as the artist, while perhaps being conflicted due to the radically changing atmosphere and cultural environment of his native Shanghai, manages to use the paradox as a means to overcome the confusion rather than become submerged in a cliche treatment of the themes of new urban-ism, economic imperialism and other derivative terms. The multiple layering and infinite detail which surface on a close examination of his artworks conceal a near archival reference of accidence, destruction, environmental decay and lost individuality as images of street signs, vehicles, pedestrians and colossal structures scatter mountainsides or are submerged in quagmires and torrents of water. His compositions convey a pessimistic and Orwellian vision of the future of the PRC, of the cityscape as an archipelago of waste and bear strong undertones of Futurism and Surrealism in their evocative impact.

From the seminal series until four years later, Yang Yong Liang does not in fact identify strongly with the photographic act or medium, he began to experiment with the medium as a release from the traditional education and mediums native to China in an attempt to liberate himself, he understood yet refused, rather, revolted against tradition void of progress or new strengths. Photography and new technology proved to be accessible and convenient tools at his disposal, and his first attempts met with success, proving him to be a rather innate or natural photographer at work with a lens. In further analysis, we observe a lucid and analytical mind at work, Yang is sensitive and silent by nature, his work, while highly conscious of the actual states and living conditions known in the metropolis of the PRC, are nonetheless impregnated with a latent "call" or "lament" of natures destruction. Citing that a central difference in the traditions of the Occident and Orient lie in the former being essentially given to an external manifestation of experience and the latter, an ex temporal act of the internal state of being, Surrealist tendencies may well describe the active state behind his creative trajectory (despite the utter absence and rejection of literary basis and reference by the artist).

Yang's references began to first find voice as he explored the questions of form, and later, especially over the last two years creation, those of content. His landscapes began to swim in clouds, mutant cityscape's suspended in sub-strata and with opaque skies being the background...eclipsed moons, distant stars and flares of light being the only presence in the inter-stellar nether worlds within which his incredible imagination scattered natural and non-natural figures, remnants and towers. Aesthetic and visceral, the work enacts upon the senses and offers an effluvium of visual contrasts. Cacophony and silence lead to a more profound contemplation drawn from what Yang Yong Liang has been able to achieve as an artist. A visual transcendance of experience amidst the intimate field of individual abandon and pervasive societal turbulence which surrounds. Discordant and resonant, tragic and mundane, the visual facets involved in his compositions upon paper deliver one of rational sense alone as he delves within while echoing provocation.

Gastbeitrag, 11.03.09 | Mehr von dieser Autorin/diesem Autor, Copyright 2005-2016. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

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