Ora-Ora announces latest solo exhibition by Huang Yulong in Hong Kong
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Ora-Ora announces latest solo exhibition by Huang Yulong in Hong Kong
Huang Yulong, D-Rex, 2024. Bronze, 93 x 43 x 47 cm. Edition 1 of 8 plus 2 AP. Courtesy of the artist and Ora-Ora.

HONG KONG.- Pioneering street artist Huang Yulong is in the spotlight for his first solo show in Hong Kong in nine years. Titled Miroku, the show will open at Ora-Ora in Hong Kong’s Tai Kwun on July 11, 2024.

The artist is famed for his skilled manipulation of ceramics, bronze and glass to create human forms which are tough and tactile, yet brimming with the relaxed showmanship and swagger of street life. With close to a decade having elapsed since his first solo show in the city, the artist is drawn to muse on time itself.

The transience of beauty, life and the irrevocable passing of time are themes which are innate to human experience. The awareness of mortality is arguably the prime catalyst for all fields of human endeavour and social interaction, from the scientific to the artistic, from the philosophical to the theological.

In the hands of Huang Yulong, an exploration of time and the transience of life avoids wistful ruminations and hollow regrets. Instead, Huang Yulong channels the magnetic, potent energy of the streets in a passionate, uplifting paeon to the increased purpose, focus and generative capacity which growing older can bring. Maturity may bring range, expertise, versatility and bravery, a calculated audacity enhanced by self-knowledge. As ever, the artist speaks loudly through sculptural form, and his enigmatic hooded figures become emissaries of his own experience as well as playmates and co-conspirators in his human and artistic journey.

Huang Yulong’s vision is born of the streets, and his artistic language is at the nexus of western hip-hop culture and the rapidly urbanizing China of his youth. The streets are the stage and battleground for the ebb and flow of economic fortune and social deprivation. They are a dichotomy of toughness and heart, of violence and harmony, poverty with richness of spirit. The brotherly oaths, the sense of community and the solidarity of hip-hop culture resonate deeply with an artist for whom the elective affinities of the streets are as solid and unbreakable as any family bond. Huang Yulong’s message of identity, purpose and belonging is for all.

In the words of Ora-Ora co-founder and CEO, Henrietta Tsui-Leung, “Huang Yulong is an artist of beautiful contradictions. He has a strong countercultural identity, rooted in the streets, and yet his message of peace, acceptance and personal progress is implicitly universal.”

Huang Yulong’s capacious, voluminous inflatable sculpture Miroku (2024) is being shown in Hong Kong for the first time at Ora-Ora. This is a sculpture which is imposing and yet vulnerable, golden and shimmering, reflective yet inviting. Different at every viewing, as ineffable and amorphous as time itself, Miroku speaks to the transience of time through the medium of air, attempting the impossible by corralling the very atmosphere itself. With its rounded contours and plush, squat, marshmallow-cuddly presence, the seated figure seems to comfort and embrace us, revelling in gentle, empathetic absurdity. Its towering size never overwhelms or smothers; the seated posture is emblematic of peace and relaxation, inviting confidences and whispered heart-to-heart conversations.

The artist’s sculptures reflect the international connectivity of hip-hop and the shared plight and triumphs of eastern and western marginalized youth. In so doing, Huang Yulong appeals to the cross-border solidarity of the urban environment, with its shared joys and adversities. He also references the increasing internationalism of China over recent generations, as it takes its place on the global stage, facing outwards rather than introspecting. Ora-Ora’s solo show gathers prime examples of the artist’s work including D-Rex (2024), previously shown at this year’s Art Basel Hong Kong. D-Rex makes a wry link between the modern couture of the street and the pre-historic world. The powerful dinosaur, roaming a barren terrain in a quest for survival is presented as a corollary and antecedent of today’s hustling, street-wise city-dweller. The ridges bursting through the fabric of the hoodie create a mortal, yet seemingly invincible dinosaur/human hybrid, ready to take on any obstacle in its path.

At the heart of Huang Yulong’s work is an advocacy for amity and peace, exemplified by past works such as his Snowflake series (2017). In carving out a place for the counter-cultural voice on the artistic stage, Huang Yulong seeks out harmonies rather than discord, emphasizing the right of his community to representation, and therefore the right of all to a voice without threat of fear and violence.

Huang Yulong’s signature blend of contemporary authenticity, irrepressible humour and human warmth shines forth in a show which brings the immense bronze Miroku to Hong Kong, and which is an uplifting testament to the maturity and vigour which time, perspective and experience may bring.

As a complement to the exhibition, a special signature soundtrack has been created by composer and music producer, Cao Yang, who fuses hip-hop motifs with eastern auditory fragments to complete an immersive audio-visual experience for the visitor.

Huang Yulong was born in Anhui, China in 1983. In 2007, he graduated from the sculpture department of the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute in China. Huang Yulong harnesses the hoodie, ubiquitous symbol of street culture globally, working predominantly with ceramics, bronze and steel to present sculptures which challenge our preconceptions of youth culture. Within the hoodie is an emptiness which is the void into which acceptance and inclusion will pour. Each visitor will imagine themselves as being welcomed into youth culture, exploring the Taoist principle of Oneness, considering everything as nothing and nothing as everything. Skateboards have also been sculpted out of porcelain in recognition of the evolving nature of Chinese tradition and the ever-presence of our past in the midst of our urban reality. His three-metre-tall, hooded centaur figure has been exhibited internationally, including in Beijing, Hong Kong, and France, where it was recently featured on the grounds of the Château de la Celle Saint-Cloud, which is managed by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2018, he collaborated with superstar Andy Lau on a sculpture series entitled “Share the Love.” Huang’s exhibitions have taken place at the Wulong Lanba Art Festival (2019), Art+ Shanghai Gallery (2018), the International Fine Craft & Creation Biennial, Paris (2017) and Art Beijing (2015). In 2022, he took part in his first group show with Ora-Ora titled “Thesis/Antithesis.” In 2024, his first solo show at Ora-Ora is unveiled: “Miroku.”

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