Lisson Gallery

Yu Hong

A painter of epic scenes and intimate moments, Yu Hong constructs modern-day fables and complex, allegorical compositions by channelling historical, narrative-driven art through a fiercely contemporary lens. Yu’s protagonists are caught in extremis: floating on clouds, climbing vertiginous mountains or walking through flames as if to hell – all variously suffering the ecstasies and tribulations of existence. Yet her fantastical worlds are inhabited by real people, featuring portrayals of friends, acquaintances and family members, revealing a personal and touching dimension to the sweeping cycles of paintings that she produces over long periods of time. Her lifelong autobiographical project, Witness to Growth, begun in the 1990s as a series of diptychs, charts her own life juxtaposed with news clippings from each era, now with the addition of her daughter’s milestones running alongside her own.

As well as elevating people and their bodies to otherworldly, uncompromising and often female celestial beings, Yu Hong’s sitters are also subject to the intense lows of depression, urban deprivation and social alienation, as in her apocalyptic Earth and Heaven (2014), or when tumbling from her Ladder to the Sky (2008). The latter image not only borrows from a medieval precedent (The Ladder to Paradise in the Egyptian Monastery of St Catherine), but utilises a gold background, which she has employed since 2010, in order to iconise and foreground her cast of modern-day characters. Yu’s painterly references take in the styles, ideologies and ambitions of both Eastern and Western Old Masters, from cave paintings to Renaissance altarpieces, recently echoing Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa, for the piled-up mound of humans and animals in Pyramid (2022), or Brueghel’s Blind Leading the Blind, across three panels of her blazing Night Walk (2023). Yu’s handling can also scale down to the depiction of an individual lost in thought, or to a pair of hands locked in a gesture of tender internalisation.

Yu Hong was born in 1966 in Xi’an, China. In 1984, she studied oil painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing and graduated from the oil painting department in 1988. Since 1988 she has been a teacher at CAFA. Yu Hong’s first major American museum show opened in September 2023 at SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA and her work was featured in ‘Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World’ (2017) at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Recent solo exhibitions in China include: ‘The World of Saha’ (2019) at Long Museum, Shanghai; ‘Garden of Dreams’ (2016) at the CAFA Art Museum, Beijing; ‘Concurrent Realms’ (2015) at the Suzhou Museum; ‘Golden Horizon’ (2011) at the Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai and ‘Golden Sky’ (2010) at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing.

 

Recent, current and forthcoming projects

‘Yu Hong: Night Walk’, SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA, USA, (21 September 2023 – 29 January 2024).

‘Yu Hong: Another One Bites the Dust’, Chiesetta della Misericordia, Cannaregio, Venice, Italy; Special Off-Site Exhibition Organised by the Asian Art Initiative of the Guggenheim Museum, New York (20 April – 24 November 2024).

Walking through Life

Yu Hong
Walking through Life

2019-2022
Acrylic on canvas
10 parts, each: 300 x 120 x 10 cm
10 parts, each: 118 1/8 x 47 1/4 x 3 7/8 in
Overall: 300 x 1200 x 10 cm
Overall: 118 1/8 x 472 1/2 x 3 7/8 in

 

 

 

 

Make a Wish

Yu Hong
Make a Wish

2023
Acrylic on canvas
340 x 140 x 9.5 cm
133 7/8 x 55 1/8 x 3 3/4 in

 

Birth

Yu Hong
Birth

2022 Acrylic on canvas 270 x 270 x 5 cm 106 1/4 x 106 1/4 x 2 in

Death

Yu Hong
Death

2022
Acrylic on canvas
270 x 270 x 5 cm
106 1/4 x 106 1/4 x 2 in

Night Walk

Yu Hong
Night Walk

2023
Acrylic on canvas
3 parts, each: 300 x 250 cm
3 parts, each: 118 1/8 x 98 3/8 in
Overall: 300 x 750 cm
Overall: 118 1/8 x 295 1/4 in

 

Pyramid

Yu Hong
Pyramid

2022
Acrylic on canvas
2 parts, each: 300 x 250 cm
2 parts, each: 118 1/8 x 98 3/8 in
Overall: 300 x 500 cm
Overall: 118 1/8 x 196 7/8 in

 

Rapids

Yu Hong
Rapids

2024
Acrylic on canvas
Square: 150 x 150 cm
Square: 59 x 59 in
Installed: 212 x 212 cm
Installed: 83 1/2 x 83 1/2 in

Direction

Yu Hong
Direction

2020
Acrylic on canvas
140 x 150 x 5 cm
55 1/8 x 59 x 2 in

 

Jing Wei

Yu Hong
Jing Wei

2022
Acrylic on canvas
280 x 100 x 5 cm
110 1/4 x 39 3/8 x 2 in

 

Eve

Yu Hong
Eve

2022
Acrylic on canvas
280 x 100 x 5 cm
110 1/4 x 39 3/8 x 2 in

 

Exhibitions

  1. Yu Hong

    Yu Hong

    26 September – 2 November 2024

We use cookies on our website to improve your experience. You can find out why by reading our privacy policy. By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies Privacy Policy