Yu Hong: The Laughing Heart

One of China’s Foremost Artists Urges Calm in a Hyper-Accelerated Society

Yu Hong drifts through the post-industrial landscape of 751 D-Park in Beijing’s 798 art district in this intimate film by director Thomas Rhazi. Here reflecting on the frenetic rush of her country, Yu inhabits a quiet, thoughtful corner of the Chinese art world. Like her husband, artist Liu Xiaodong, she is influenced by social realism, creating a theatre of human form and experience that is often rendered in mixed materials including gold leaf and oil paint. Ever curious about how social shifts and the abandonment of tradition alter female experience—Yu’s own grandmother had her feet bound—she often uses herself as muse. “Female artists have less opportunities to exhibit and sell their work then men,” she says of the difficulty of being a creative woman in China. “This constricts their growth and their ability to break free of the traditional role with the family.” Yu’s work has been exhibited in galleries as diverse as the SFMOMA in California and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens. She remembers her city’s transformation from a one-gallery town in the 1980s, when she defied social pressure to quit and procreate to study at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. China has come a long way since then, but Yu is keen to focus on the human stress that such progress brings. “My work expresses the various problems a country faces when undergoing such rapid development,” she says. “It creates lots of pressure for individuals.”

Special thanks to 751 D-Park. 

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Conversations (4)

  • eqobKING
    had to watxh again.
  • eqobKING
    she iz amazing.
  • Antoine Faché
    I like this work, Thomas.
  • theoneiota
    excellent work nowness.

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