Ringing in the Chinese New Year

Yang Yongliang’s (YYL) masterpiece ‘Five Dragons’ . Picture: Supplied

Yang Yongliang’s (YYL) masterpiece ‘Five Dragons’ . Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 11, 2024


As the Chinese community of Cape Town celebrates the Chinese New Year, the Iziko South African Gallery has partnered with the KT Wong Foundation to commemorate the occasion heralding the Year of the Dragon.

The foundation shares a spectacular video created by Chinese artist Yang Yongliang on show at the Iziko to promote cross-cultural relations between China and South Africa.

The special screening of Chinese contemporary multimedia artist Yang Yongliang’s masterpiece Five Dragons will take place today.

Chinese artist Yang Yongliang .Picture: Supplied

The event is the brainchild of Lady Linda Wong-Davies, who founded the KT Wong Foundation in 2008 in the UK, to nurture and foster cultural understanding.

Wong-Davies said: “I am delighted to be able to share this exceptional work by one of China’s most important contemporary artists today.

“The aim of screening this art piece is not only to welcome in the Year of the Dragon, but to reflect on the artistic representations of landscape in contemporary encounters between Asia and Africa, and to promote awareness to South African audiences about other cultural histories.

“I am grateful to the gallery for their support and their important role in facilitating this cultural exchange,” Wong-Davies said.

Chinese artist Yang Yongliang . Picture: Supplied

The foundation has outreaches in South Africa, the UK, Europe and China, and supports several initiatives with local public arts and educational institutions, by linking the vibrant African arts scene to the established but often, unknown cultural scripts in China.

Traditionally, Chinese dragons are water gods overlooking the ocean and protecting the ecology. However, since the 20th century, dragons have been misused as auspicious figures, or generalised as Asian cultural symbols.

In the Five Dragon series, Yang Yongliang has focused on melding fantasy and ancient wisdom, to set a new narrative for self-interpretation and reflection by the viewer.

According to the artist, Five Dragons unveils the cohabitation of five dragons in a natural landscape with their destinies unforeseen. The work is inspired by the Southern Song dynasty master painter Chen Rong’s (circa 1200-1266) traditional depiction of these mythical beasts.

Iziko chief curator Andrew Lamprecht said: “I am thrilled to be part of this cross-cultural event which brings the historical art of China into a contemporary focus.

“We are grateful to the foundation for bringing this innovative example of cutting-edge video art to the Iziko Gallery and look forward to exciting collaborations in the future.” The public screening will run for three months at the gallery.

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