Artist's intense landscape collages speak of grim environmental impacts

Yang Yongliang
© Yang Yongliang

As one of the oldest continuous artistic traditions, Chinese landscape painting has evolved over the centuries, yet, its major emphasis on depicting natural landscape still remains central. But due to rapid urbanization and development, the ecological character of some places in China have changed beyond recognition, and a growing number of artists are reflecting these environmental impacts in their art.

Trained alongside some of the country's master landscape painters, Shanghai's Yang Yongliang has created large-scale collage-like works that depict something close to a traditional Chinese landscape. As the Metropolitan Museum for Modern Art explains:

Viewing Chinese landscape paintings, it is clear that Chinese depictions of nature are seldom mere representations of the external world. Rather, they are expressions of the mind and heart of the individual artists—cultivated landscapes that embody the culture and cultivation of their masters.

Yang Yongliang© Yang Yongliang

This digitized version of this artistic tradition speaks to how technology has changed everything. However, upon closer inspection, one also sees that these landscapes aren't the bucolic representations of nature that one might have seen in the far past. Instead, these imaginary landscapes are clogged with skyscrapers, machines, cranes, and overcrowded buildings. This is the new natural landscape.

Yang Yongliang© Yang Yongliang
Yang Yongliang© Yang Yongliang
Yang Yongliang© Yang Yongliang
Yang Yongliang© Yang Yongliang

Dubbed "From The New World," the work stands at an impressive 26 feet by 13 feet tall in size, lending a sense of scale to the enormous ecological impacts of unbridled industrialization. Yang's visual commentary here seems to allude to the rise of factories and sprawling cities over the last couple of decades -- which have contributed to unprecedented socio-economic gains for many people -- yet, have nevertheless resulted in a heavy environmental cost that can no longer be ignored. It has become part of the natural landscape of the Chinese psyche.

Yang Yongliang© Yang Yongliang

Of course, this environmental decline is not unique to China; we are seeing it all over the world in the disappearing rainforests, polluted rivers, melting glaciers and plastic-filled oceans with dying corals. Little has been left untouched by human intervention, and as this work suggests, on some level we are polluting our inner landscape as well. It's time to clean things up -- inside and out.

More over at Yang Yongliang.

[Via: This Is Colossal]

Tags: Artists | Arts | China | Pollution

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