When Tradition Meets Modernity

posted by – 09/19/13 @ 11:36am

It’s not hard to tell that contemporary artist Yang Yongliang was trained in classical Chinese painting and calligraphy. His works pay homage to the beautiful Chinese landscapes found in paintings as far back as the 900s. However, Yongliang is no traditionalist. He subtly infuses signs of contemporary society into what appears to be pristine rural landscapes. For example, Yongliang’s work Viridescence, Stock World seems like a beautiful landscape from a distance, but a closer viewing reveals urban decay. Instead of relying solely on traditional techniques, Yongliang uses digital technology to make his works incredibly detailed. Some may wonder why Yongliang maintains a classical aesthetic when using new technology and addressing contemporary issues. He explains:

“I think modernization is devouring everything at an ultimate speed, including history and culture, that is to say some humanities, and even a kind of kinship, a kind of human interest that Chinese people value so much… Actually, in my view, development is essential, but I think we should think about retaining something behind the development, or protect something we should have originally so as not to lose all traces after a number of years. Otherwise, this will be very horrible.” (Source)

Yongliang preserves China’s ancient art forms while engaging in a dialogue about contemporary cultural concerns. To me, the best part about Yang Yongliang’s art is that he manages to provide visual enjoyment while addressing the pitfalls of rapid urbanization. To learn more about Yang Yongliang and his works, go here.


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