Hong Hao is one of the precursors of the vibrant contemporary Chinese art scene.
Born in Beijing in 1965, he studied printmaking at the Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1989.
In the late 1990’s, Hong Hao did a major series of silkscreen prints called Selected Scriptures that resemble double-page maps taken from an antique Chinese Atlas.
In a playful fashion, he attempts to adjust our conformed perceptions by inserting abnormal changes and ironic fantasies on them.
These humorous takes on philosophy, medicine, ideology and consumerism are served by a meticulous attention to detail, a quality that expands throughout his work.
Being a versatile artist, Hong Hao took up photography in 1999 with his series Beijing Tour Guide where he places himself in the principal role as a tour guide amid western tourist groups on the Great Wall or in Tiananmen Square trying to mimic the bridging of both cultures.
In Mr. Hong and in Mr Gnoh, he represents himself posing in kitsch and excessive environments, following the new consumerist trend in China, advocating new individual aspirations made possible by economic reform, in addition to a wealth of consumer items that are seen as badges of success.
In 2001, Hong Hao began his most renowned series called My Things, of which the current exhibition offers a relevant selection.
In this series Hong Hao undertakes a mapping of his own world, but at the same time showing the very portrait of today’s China, featuring all kinds of objects gathered these past years or collected on expeditions in Panjiayuan, Beijing’s legendary flea market.
The dazzling array of possessions carefully categorized by forms and genre – private papers, daily household items, art books, exhibition catalogues, hair and a mass composite of currencies as in 55, 976 – are all individually scanned on a 1:1 scale into his computer.
Then, harmoniously assembled and frozen forever in a kind of black limbo, these colorful products appear as ghosts of themselves, just the image of what they are.
Unlike the accumulations of the Nouveaux Réalistes such as Arman and Spoerri, only the shape and the superficial aspect are kept.
The recent voracity of promoted wealth is perfectly captured in these material world portraits in which the image of the product as well as its accumulation has become the actual object of desire.
Visually, the My Things series, with its appealing colors and organized chaos, stresses the impression of China’s life pace and embodies the difficult position and ridiculousness of post-contemporary consumption culture in China.
It seems that the innocence and righteousness of the Chinese people is once again insidiously exploited for another political scheme, but this time, approximating our good old western arguments…