Jarry, Remy: “Attack West With East, Attack East With West”, The Art of Huang Yong Ping

Huang Yong Ping (1954-2019) not only disapproved the nationalism that prevails in Mainland China, he also remained very critical about the Western-centrism of the international art scene. Yet, he still used his Chinese cultural heritage as a prism to decipher the fundamentals of Western culture, while looking at Chinese traditional culture through the lens of the Western thought. His famous statement in 1986 “Dadaism is Zen, Zen is Dadaism” perfectly epitomises his chiastic approach. Instead of choosing a camp, he looks at the main touch-points between the two civilisations in order to embed his artistic work. Avoiding the binary opposition between East and West, his work succeeds in heralding a new and alternative path: a dual strategy that can oppose dualism and reach two targets at a time. “Art has no motherland”, as he confirmed in his later career. Far from becoming apathetic, Huang’s work frontally tackles the main historical and social challenges of our time, such as the migrants, the radical Islam, the climate change and the globalisation. Interestingly, his work has been censored in both China and Western countries. By attacking West with East and East with West, his ambition is to deconstruct the so-called “cultural identities”, while unveiling the operating forces involved in their cristallisation. This paper aims at illustrating Huang Yong Ping’s artistic approach through the study of his work from the early 1980s up to now.