Now on view through August 5, 2012
Asia Society Museum presents an installation by the Chinese born French artist Huang Yong Ping commemorating the fifteenth anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to China from Great Britain in July 1997.
Da Xian—The Doomsday comprises three enormous bowls decorated with motifs that allude to British colonialism in Hong Kong and reference the Chinese porcelain trade with the West. The painted designs on the bowls include depictions of eighteenth century European and American hongs, or storehouses used by the colonial powers in China to store trading goods. Inside the bowls, Huang placed British brands of packaged food which are prominently marked “best before 1 July 1997” which was the date that marked the end of 155 years of British rule of Hong Kong.
After their defeat in the First Opium War in 1842, China ceded the territory of Hong Kong to British governance. As one of twelve provisions in the Treaty of Nanjing, the cession was to last “in perpetuity" and provided British traders an unrestricted port on the coast of China.
Huang has said of this work:
…the bowls are not the traditional Chinese bowls. I have chosen porcelain bowls made by the “oriental” East India Company. The motifs on the bowls are theirs, done in a traditional style. What is interesting is that in these images you have a lot of flags of the colonizers….these images reflect the imagination at the height of colonialism in the eighteenth [and] early nineteenth century. (Jantjes, A Fruitful Incoherence: Dialogues with Artists on Internationalism. London: Institute of International Visual Arts, 1998, p. 112)
Huang Yong Ping (b. 1954, China) currently resides in France. His work juxtaposes Chinese and Western concepts and symbols, and addresses the history of relations between China and the West. A 1982 graduate of the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou, China, he became known as a provocative and influential artist in the 1980s Chinese art scene. He was a founding member of Xiamen Dada, a conceptual art group strongly influenced by Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Beuys. In 1989, he moved to France following his participation in the exhibition Magiciens de la Terre at the Pompidou Center. He has participated in many international art exhibitions around the world including the Shanghai Biennale (2000) and the 50th Venice Biennale (2003).
Image, above: Huang Yong Ping, Da Xian—The Doomsday, 1997. Installation. Fiberglass, oil paint, expired food products, watercolor on paper, black and white photographs.
The full press release is attached below.