Talking Breakdancing and Buddhism with Chinese Artist Huang Yulong
The Jingdezhen-based sculptor spins the traditional icon on its head.
Miroku, Huang Yulong, Porcelain, 20 x 18 x 15 cm, 2010
For over 1,000 years, the city of Jingdezhen has been the "porcelain capital" of China. Now Jingdezhen-based sculptor Huang Yulong carries on that tradition but gives it his own twist by crafting lifelike, yet surreal, hoodie-wearing ceramic statues. Perhaps most notably, he's inducted gold, black, and white Buddhas into the series.
While Yulong isn't a Buddhist himself, he's surrounded Chinese Buddhist culture. "The Buddha is the most popular ceramic decoration in China because the Chinese people think the Buddha means fortune, luck and happiness," he explains to The Creators Project. "I always wanted to have some in my house, but I never found anything that attracts me. Every ceramic master makes the Buddha in exactly same way, and even the exterior form is identical. So I decided to make my own Buddha, add my personal character to the traditional decoration. I wanted my Buddha to be more fun, cool and attractive, and have more relation with my life."
For Yulong, that means China's thriving breakdancing community: "Dancing gives me passion for life and makes me more and more optimistic and progressive. I love everything related to dancing, especially hoodies. I wear them everyday and everywhere. So I thought maybe putting a hoodie on the Buddha instead of cassock would be a great idea." Yulong has been making surreal, faceless hoodie sculptures since 2008, transforming breakdancers, children, a centaur, and the Buddha into his own kind of icon. He's not trying to make a political statement, but instead reconcile with the mass of Western influence that floods Chinese media.
"I always want to find a cross point between cultures and putting them together to show people what I see, how I feel," he says. "I'm not Buddhist. I think to be Buddhist needs to be fated, but I admire Buddhism. I never criticise anything, I just use the traditional shapes, and [Buddha] is a shape everybody knows. [...] The most important thing is to [make] your own interpretation."
See more of Huang Yulong's work below and on Artsy.