Visual Culture in Communist China

observing, analyzing & re-presenting the art of twentieth century china

Huang Yong Ping Exhibition Theme


Huang Yong Ping in 1985. Working on his Roulette Wheel series.

Exhibition Title:

Huang Yong Ping: Inspirational Avant Garde Artist

This is a working title, but I thought of it because I want to touch on several different political views that Huang Yong Ping has, and portrays in his work. I figured this title leaves it a bit open for me to be able to talk about his ideas between modern and tradition china, authoritative figures, and his view on animal welfare.

Exhibition Essay:

Huang Yong Ping has been creating artwork since the early 1980’s. His artwork is said to have gone through four major categories; anti-artistic affectation, anti-self-expression, anti-art, and anti-history. Throughout all of these periods, he challenges specific views that are shown in his artwork. In his works regarding anti-expression, between 1986-1988, Huang Yong Ping did a roulette series, which was artwork done on a roulette wheel. The purpose of this was to go against any impulses the artist has, and ultimately the artist has no say in what the painting turns out to be. The wheel did all of the work based on movements that were assigned in the beginning. The work could not be controlled or directly expressed through what the artist wanted. All of the work happens by chance. In 1987, Huang Yong Ping expressed the anti-history and anti art aspect. This was created when he put two books in the washing machine, and when he took them out he just put the pulp together onto a piece of broken glass held up by a wooden trunk. The two books represented traditional, and modern china, and he wanted to erase the differences and unknown between these two time periods of china. There was a lot of denial during this time period of the two times and he wanted to get rid of that by forming the two together symbolically creating a mesh of both traditional and modern ideas and culture. The reason why this fits into the category of anti art as well is because it challenges the traditional view of what artwork is supposed to look like and be perceived as. This theme is important to understand 20th century china is because during that time there were so many different political views, especially portrayed in artwork. Huang Yong Ping’s work is very helpful in understanding eastern and western culture, and the prominent political views at the time and how they were challenged.


Kao, Ming-Lu, and Norman Bryson. Inside out: New Chinese Art. Univ. of California Press,1998.

Image Source: Li, Yu-Chieh, and 黄永砯 Huang Yong Ping. “Book Washer, Shaman, and Bug Keeper: A Conversation with Huang Yong Ping, Part II.” Voices of Dissent: Art in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from 1976 to 1989 | Post,

 “Nothing Is True, Everything Is Permitted | Tang Contemporary Art.” Tang Contemporary Art | Beijing·Hong Kong·Bangkok 當代唐人藝術中心 | 北京·香港·曼谷,

“Rewriting Example 1: When You Have No Cane, I Will Take It Away. When You Have One, I Will Give You One. – Zen Boddhism(1).” L.H.O.O.Q.,

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