China is at once a uniquely contemporary and deeply traditional society. Chinese social and political life is based largely on events of the last forty years, since the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976 forced a hard reset. The institution of the one-child policy in 1979, the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, the exponential economic growth in the '90s, the country’s admission into the World Trade Organization in 2001, the recent period of rapid Westernization, and the rise to global power have shaped every aspect of Chinese life.
Meanwhile, centuries-old artistic traditions, such as ink-wash painting and ceramics, remain dear and deeply ingrained in the culture. Ranging in age from those in their 20s to those in their 50s, the artists that follow are all affected and influenced by the country’s recent events and ancient artifacts. From the ultra famous to the super fresh, they deal with the constantly shifting current of Chinese society, politics, and economy, while maintaining a connection to the country’s deep cultural roots.
Huang Yulong (黄玉龙) was born in 1983 in Huainan, Anhui Province, China. In 2007 he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture from the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute in Jiangsu Province. As one of the new generation of Chinese artists and part of the post-‘80s and ‘only child’ generation, Huang is strongly influenced by the phenomenon of foreign culture in China, which he combines with his fascination with pottery and the material world.
He works in a variety of media, mixing traditional ceramic porcelain or bronze with crystals. To him, the hip-hop culture he often portrays, the hoodies and bling, is a state of being and a way of life, not merely a foreign culture appropriated by young Chinese. To him, hip-hop culture is “characterized by energy, power, purity, sexuality, freedom, courage. But this is also an urban story full of crying and blood.”
Huang is best known for his sculptures of Buddhas in hoodies, displaying a convergence of East and West, tradition and contemporary. These paradoxical images challenge the serenity of the traditional Chinese Buddha image, updating and urbanizing it to reflect China’s rapid transition over the last few decades from a rural society to a mostly urban one. Huang’s work is young, fresh, and fun, a physical portrayal of the cultural mash-ups in contemporary Chinese society.
"...my work addresses the phenomenon of foreign culture in China and the extensive influence it has had on legions of local "post-80″ kids from the "only child" generation. I mostly focus on street / hip-hop culture. My creative inspiration is rooted in the origins of these cultures and their development - a new subject in contemporary art in China.
Hip-hop is more than just a type of culture - to me, it's an inextinguishable spirit of being. It's characterized by power, staunchness, purity, sexuality, freedom, desire, courage, and a distinctly modern and urban history full of blood and tears. Hip-hop stands tall as a unique spiritual symbol bursting with connotation in our everyday lives and modern culture. As a kind of collision of western culture and traditional Chinese culture, hip-hop's arrival in China has had an intense influence on me and my generation, and, because of its unique charm, it will continue to inspire more and more people to adopt its tenets..."
~ Huang Yulong