Chinese Back to Exhibitions


A painting is the imagination that draws from reality,
not plainly real, nor plainly imaginative.

Ye Yongqing - people call him “Chief Ye”, a strategic giant in the Chinese art field. He is an art director in Contemporary Art Academy of China, and also has an equal fame with Zhang Xiao Gang and Wang Guangyi. He well elaborates the spirit of “playing art”, journeys to the world with a pipe of ink and a tiny “eyebrow pen”. Walking freely across scholar’s sentiment and humorous life, he takes “bird” as the unique mark, overthrew the traditional art thinking, reverses classic Chinese logic and humorizes “bird” into the element of joke and scoff. He gains a title which might be weird, but certainly suitable for him “Birdman”.

Ye Yongqing uses who-knows-what-kind of method to draw his birds, he got this idea from 2000. He chooses “slow scribble” as a reverse way of thinking; he draws magnified and distorted bird in detailed however abstract lines. “Scribble usually gives an impression of fast and simple. But if I sketch something childish in a mature way and with slow process, people might miss-recognize it as a child’s drawing at first, then suddenly discovering the meaning in it. This is an interesting process that I am like a trap setter, making a joke to visitors just for a harmless fun.” Ye Yongqing loves this contrast of tradition and ridiculousness. In recent years, his subjects extend from birds to humanity and living environment. “Sometimes I wonder, am I the one playing on birds? Or it is birds playing on me?” says Ye.

In 1986, Ye Yongqing and a group of friends founded the "Southwest Arts Group," bringing about his direct participation in the "New Wave Arts" movement. To this day, he still fondly remembers that surging period. At the time, they were full of sincere ardor for humanist ideals. Yongqing avoided the scar art and the indigenous social realism of the previous generation, and he even seemed to have bypassed the path of "political pop" that was then gaining such attention worldwide with the flag of "to be integrated is to be creative" raised high. Instead, through his semasiology of pictorial idioms, he has ingeniously stridden into a new age of creativity, causing him to embrace conceptual art much earlier than other artists of his generation. The post-1997 Ye Yongqing has been ceaselessly expanding his spheres of activity, and at the same time taking up many different roles that have him flying all over the world, “I often see my life as like that of a migratory bird moving among several different cities, fragmented and with no fixed abode. I have this fantasy: I wave my hand and all these fragmentary images and ordinary objects that I have woven into and piled onto silk fill the ground with feathers that float away, like they had never even existed. he defined himself as a cultural rebel, but after walking out he discovered how small he is, and started to think about “who I am”. “The national character has giving us too much boundaries. I was deeply touched by artists without boundaries. They directly express the thoughts with great explosive force to fill the artworks with energy and life.” After wandering far and seeing much, Ye Yongqing’s art thinking becomes mature. The early metaphor-like style turned into visual art of symbols.His creation is as an extension of his thinking and as the evidence of the tumult of his thoughts and emotions. It seems to be memories of the past but even more resembles to the future that draws from reality. However, a wanderer’s mind is always flying and would never settle down. Time and location cannot admit him to put his eagerness in art into action from time to time. Yet, Ye transfers his pain into painting with a tiny eyebrow pen. It is a transcendent status after obstacles and struggles that break through the boundary, which enables him to enter the status of painting wherever he is. Returning to art, without any hinders, to the simplest but absolute ego and space.

Dali Script is Ye’s artistic creation in Yunnan this summer, the extraordinary scenery of Xishuangbanna is his spiritual home town. Just as a migratory bird, he set his foot between farmland and forest and discovered the traditional paper made in Lijiang which Naxi tribe uses to copy the “Dongba script”. Attracted by its texture of simplicity and elegance, his inspiration seems exceptionally tender and sentimental, fragile but full of complexity. Through his artistic creation, memories surge back to existence and to the reality. In his scribble journal, one can see an intellectual’s poetic and lyrical romance. It is an attitude of altitude that Ye Yongqing holds to the world.

The reason Commander Ye is Commander Ye is because he will never become a follower of the current prevailing trend, much less an obedient idolizer of Western art. The inheritor of the "spirit" of the accumulation of 5000 years of Chinese history, he has in his bones a natural ability to absorb the ectoplasm of earth and sky. Bird becomes "spirit," and turns into "bird man" – that’s Mr. Ye’s humorous pun. Even if it is the rude mocking "Showing your bird, bird man," even that also symbolizes the highest realms of the unity of heavenly god and earth-man. His "great big bird" revived the soul of literati art, perpetuating the spirit of Chinese brush and ink. However, no matter a bird or a birdman, art or life, humanity or symbolization, rebellion or innovation, humor or joke, what the laity care is free only, nothing to do with the bird.

Dali Script-Returning Home / 54x53cm / 2010 / Handmade Paper & Mixed Media

Dali Script-Summer Time / 54x53cm / 2010 / Handmade Paper & Mixed Media
Dali Script-Spring and Autumn / 53x54cm / 2010 / Handmade Paper & Mixed Media

Dali Script-The yearning of Old Jang / 53x54cm / 2010 / Handmade Paper & Mixed Media


Dali Script-Love Shock / 53x54cm / 2010 / Handmade Paper & Mixed Media

Dali Script-Rainy Season / 53x53cm / 2010 / Handmade Paper & Mixed Media

Dali Script-Nest / 54x53cm / 2010 / Handmade Paper & Mixed Media

Dali Script-The Present / 61x24cm / 1997 /
Handmade Paper & Mixed Media

Dali Script-Eco-Friendly Man / 61x24cm / 1997 /
Handmade Paper & Mixed Media

Dali Script-Winter Script / 61x24cm / 1997 /
Handmade Paper & Mixed Media

Dali Script-Paradise on Earth / 61x24cm / 2010 /
Handmade Paper & Mixed Media

The Day I Transferred / 127x96cm / 1998 / Mixed Materials

Points Painting (diptych) / 129x69cmx2 / 2009 / Acrylic on Canvas

Painting a bird - III / 100x80cm / 2008 / Acrylic on Canvas

Painting a bird - / 80x100cm / 2008 / Acrylic on Canvas

Painting a bird / 80x100cm / 2006 / Acrylic on Canvas

Painting a bird -II / 80x100cm / 2010 / Acrylic on Canvas


Melody / 150x150cm / 2004 / Acrylic on Canvas

Letter from Alcoholic / 100x80cm / 2010 / Acrylic on Canvas

Father and Son / 100x80cm / 2010 / Acrylic on Canvas

Summer Fishing / 150x200cm / 2010 / Acrylic on Canvas

Storm in Brain / 70x70cm / 2010 / Acrylic on Canvas

1958 Born in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

Graduated from the Oil Painting Department, Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, Chongqing, China

  Currently Professor at Sichuan Fine Arts Institute

- Solo Exhibitions -

2011 Beyond the bird, Metaphysical Art Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
2009 Ye Yongqing, Gallery J.Chen, Taipei, Taiwan

Beyond Graffiti- Ye Yongqing Solo Exhibition, My Humble House Art Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan


To Be or Not To Be - Solo Exhibition of Ye Yongqing, Beijing Art Now Gallery, China

2008 As Free As a Bird, Hong Kong Arts Centre, China

Paint a Bird: Paradox and Reality, China Square Gallery, New York, USA


Injured · Heart--Solo Exhibition of Ye Yongqing, K · Gallery, Shanghai Art Fair, China

2007 To Paint a Bird! Fun Art Space, Beijing, China
  A Wounded Bird, Gallery Artside, Seoul, Korea
2006 Solo Flight, Blues Dreamland Gallery, Chengdu, China

Scribble, Shanghai Zhangjiang Art Museum, China

2001 Ye Yongqing, ShanghART, Shanghai, China
2000 Ye Yongqing, China Contemporary, London, UK
1999 Ye Yongqing, Kailin Sax Gallery, Munich, Germany
  China in A Scholarís Eyes, SooBin Art Gallery, Singapore
1995 To Live in History, China Art Studio, Augsberg, Germany
  Ye Yongqing, Shuang Hexuan Gallery, Seattle, USA
1989 Ye Yongqing, French Embassy in Beijing, China
- Group Exhibitions (Selected)-
2010 Reshaping History—Chinart from 2000 to 2009, CNCC, Beijing, China
  Thirty years of Chinese Contemporary art 1979-2009, Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, China
2009 Prague Biennial, Prague, Czech Republic
  Collision---Experimental cases of contemporary chinese art,CAFA Art Museum, Beijing, China
  Thirty years in presence—Contemporary oil paintings of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, Japan-China friendship Center, Japan
2008 Chinese Art Gentre, Basel, Switzerland
2007 Embarking From the Southwest-Contemporary Art Exhibition, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China
  Talk of War on Paper, Nanjing Sifang Museum of Art, Nanjing, China
2006 Size Decides Attitude First 5x7 Picture Biennale Project, Pingyao International Photography Festival, Shanxi, China
  Poetic Realism: A Reinterpretation of Jiangnan, RCM Art Museum, Nanjing, China
  Unclear and Clearness, Heyri Art Foundation, Korea

Renovate OCT, He Xiangning Art Museum, OCT Art Centre, Shenzhen, China

  Art in Motion, Shanghai MoCA Art Museum, Shanghai, China
2005 Future Archaeology-Chinese Art Triennial, Nanjing Museum of Art, Nanjing, China
  Dream of the Dragon People-Chinese Art Exhibition, Ireland Art Museum, Ireland
  Asia Urban Network, Seoul Art Museum, Korea
  The Big River-Chinese New Era Oil Painting Retrospective Exhibition, National Art Museum, Beijing, China
  The Yuanfen Sky, Shenzhen Art Museum, Shenzhen, China
2004 Transcending Boundaries--Ye Yongqing, Fang Lijun and Yue Minjun, Shanghai Gallery of Art, Shanghai, China
2003 Opening Era, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
  Abstract Art Exhibition, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China
2002 Chengdu Biennale, Chengdu Contemporary Art Gallery, Chengdu, China

Contemporary Art Exhibition, Duisburg, Germany   

  Behind Reality, Dimension Arts, Taipei, Taiwan
  China Triennial, Guangzhou Art Museum, Guangzhou, China
2001 The Dream of Chinese Art, Red Building Art Centre, London, UK

New Images, National Art Museum of China, Sichuan Museum of Art, Guangdong Museum of Art, China

2000 Gate of the Century: 1979-1999, Contemporary Art Museum, Chengdu, China
  Chinese Oil Painting in the 20th Century, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
  Between, Upriver Club, Kunming, China  
  A Tale of Two Cities, Asia Contemporary Art, London, UK
1999 Art from China, Limn Gallery, San Francisco, USA
1997 Quotation Marks, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
  Koeln International Art Fair, Ludwig Museum, Koeln, Germany
  Liu Wei and Ye Yongqing, Gallery of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China
1996 China!, Contemporary Art Museum, Bon, Germany
  First Shanghai Art Biennale, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China
1995 Feeling of Skin, Antony Art Centre, France
  Avant-guard Artisiques Xineses, Santa Monica Art Centre, Barcelona, Spain

Post 89 New Art from China, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, China; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

1992 China Oil Painting Exhibition, Beijing Minority Cultural Palace, China
1990 French Modern Art Expo., Grand Palace Fine Arts Museum, Paris, France

I Don’t Want to Play Cards with Cezanne and Other Works, Asia-Pacific Museum, Pasadena, California, USA


Modern Art Exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China