Dixiong Yao: Camels
According to the Artland website, Yao Dixiong was born in 1949 and was predominantly influenced creatively by the 1960s. Artistically, the decade began with the twin movements of Pop and Minimalism emerging at a similar time. On one hand, Pop espoused the visual culture of the mainstream and mass media, and of products and consumerism. The work of art by artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann and Claes Oldenberg was inspired by the popular culture of the fast developing Capitalism of the United States, using things like advertising, comic books and ideas surrounding celebrity culture as their main visual inspiration. A parallel movement was established on the West Coast in California - a strain that also related to language in art, and is viewed as the initial blossoming of conceptual art. The 1960s were an explosive decade internationally, bearing witness to proliferation of modernist philosophies and trends. It was the era of Kennedy and Kruschev, and the start of the Cold War, which would endure for most of the second half of the twentieth century, and was epitomised most symbolically by the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. The Iron Curtain divided Eastern and Western Europe, both ideologically and literally, and student political uprisings took place around the world. Psychedelia, an enormous increase in consumerism, and the associated trends of marketing and advertising further defined the era. Minimalism developed a formal language with no external references, focused solely on line, colour and geometric form as key elements of both painting and sculpture. The significant figures of Minimalism included Frank Stella, Donald Judd and Agnes Martin. Pop Art was a prominent offshoot of minimalism, a discipline that became renowned through the work of artists like Victor Vasarely and Bridget Riley. Colour Field painting, as practiced by Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland and Helen Frankenthaler, further developed some of the expressive philosophies of Abstract Expressionism, but stripped away much of the rhetoric, instead approaching a more rule-based approach to surface and colour that related this practice to Minimalism. Around the world a number of artistic movements resonated the artistic concerns of the above mentioned movements, often with regional specialties and nuance. In Italy, Lucio Fontana and Piero Manzoni established Spatialism, and in Germany the Zero group under the leadership of Gunter Uecker espoused similar ideas. The influential school of Existentialist Philosophy was an important source of inspiration for artists, with artists like Francis Bacon and Alberto Giacometti becoming known worldwide for their distinguishing approaches to the human form and the angst related to the human condition.
The Work of Art
Yao is best known for producing works of art that captures both wild and domesticated fauna. To this extent, Camels is typical of Yao's style and choice of subject. The watercolour and ink work depicts a number of Bactrian camels moving across a sandy landscape. Bactrian Camels are commonly used in parts of Central Asia and Mongolia and are used as pack animals for transporting goods. The loose style of watercolour gives Yao's work movement and life of their own. This can be better emphasized with the image of Yao's horse below. The watercolour was created in 1987 and acquired shortly after.