Working with digital manipulation, Yang Yongliang depicts scenes from traditional Chinese landscape paintings and calligraphy through the photographic medium. He exploits the connection between traditional art and the contemporary, by implementing ancient Asian aesthetics and academic beliefs with modern language and digital techniques such as photography, painting and videography. Yang questions economic, environmental and social issues, confronting his fear of the devastating effects of unrestrained urbanisation and industrialisation in China and beyond. Inspired by his Chinese ancestral culture and the artistic Shan Shui, he works with digital photography like a painter. Although the predominate form of his work is landscape, a closer analysis reveals images made of man-made shapes in a decaying contemporary urban setting, where, for instance, characteristic trees from classical Song Dynasty paintings transform into metallic lattices and electricity poles and mountains covered by skyscrapers in ruins are threatened by floods. Yang Yongliang subtly suggests possible equivalences between tradition, modernity, nature and culture.
Yang Yongliang, born in 1980, Shanghai, China, was trained in traditional Chinese art since early childhood, later graduating in 2003 from China Academy of Art, Shanghai with further studies in Visual Communication. He teaches at Shanghai Institute of Vision Art and lives and works between New York and Shanghai. His work has been exhibited internationally at the Thessaloniki Biennale, Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art Beijing, National Gallery of Victoria Melbounre, Moscow Biennale, Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, Daegu Photo Biennale, Singapore ArtScience Museum, Musée d’art modern de la ville de Paris, Kunst und Kultur Neuried, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Somerset House London, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales Sydney. He is in the collections of public institutions including the British Museum, Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, San Francisco Asian Art Museum, the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno and the National Gallery of Victoria.