press release

It has now become normal for artists to exhibit their work in odd places far removed from official, institutional spaces, for reasons to do with either their form or their semantic value. Spaces often with a powerful connotation of a political or social genius loci but also transcendent and spiritual, as in the case of churches and other sacred buildings.

In the project for his exhibit at Vassivière Island Huang Yong Ping contests a space meant to show works of art by transforming it into a «temple». And from this operation of functional displacement is born the title of the exhibition: Pantheon.

The term Pantheon was used in pagan, syncretistic Antiquity to indicate the place «where all the gods mix together». The question that Huang Yong Ping poses is «what meaning can the Pantheon have in these days of ever-expanding globalisation, what space is left in this new world for the gods to fill?»

The exhibit projected for the Centre international d’art et du paysage de l’île de Vassivière aims to reach the core of this question-cum-premise.

When Huang Yong Ping visited the Centre international d’art et du paysage built by Aldo Rossi, he was struck by its sobriety, which evoked in him the sacred, void space of a temple. He was deeply impressed by the conical, archetypal space of the tower-lighthouse and the breadth of the nave covered with metaphysical light.

The artist transformed the lighthouse into a shelter for a monumental prayer wheel weighing over 600 kilos, called Ehi ehi sina sina (2000-2006). Huang Yong Ping had previously never been able to undertake this piece due to its complexity and for lack of an appropriate location. In the Centre d’art de Vassivière he has found the space, the inspiration and the means to make his Utopia real.

Panthéon is the artist’s answer to the situation even of the Centre d’art de Vassivière, with its cathedral architecture in the midst of a landscape that is both industrial and idyllic. Through this intervention, Vassivière island appears to us like a place for meditation and exile.

The nave is transformed into an immense Buddhist temple where the library is enthroned: Chuan Luntsang (2006). This part reflects upon itself under the impulse of the visitors, allowing a view of books and documents. In the rear stand two large sculptures representing the ceramic heads of a cow and a dragon placed on top of a foot, each one with a scroll in its mouth. In the nave, the artist applies the general symmetry of the temples and the method of exhibiting in columns, forecasting the presence of these two immense «guardian divinities» (Walking up language, 2005-2006).

The study room is dedicated to the artisan’s studio (Bois de Guanyin, 2006). Here the visitor finds a table and two chairs which, like the floor, are covered in sawdust. In a sculpture of Buddha being made from an immense block of wood, the visitor begins to perceive the familiar form of the divinity.

In the little theatre, the last room of the exhibit at the Centre d’art, the visitor comes upon Buddha’s intestines, (Intestins de Bouddha, 2006). Buddha appears under the halo of the small window that gives on to the dam of the artificial lake of Vassivière. His intestines, made of silk, spill over the floor. A line of eighteen small wooden Buddhas precede him in the windows of the nave (Cavernes, 2006). The room is like a womb where one finds the viscera of the Pantheon with the wooden sculpture of Buddha, guided by a horde of vultures that rip out his innards. The appearance of the vultures not only prepares the retreat of the gods, but at the same time also predicts their return.

Panthéon is a supplementary element of this questioning and at the same time an answer to the architecture of Aldo Rossi. Built as a temple of art, the Centre can easily become a Pantheon, a place to welcome all philosophies, a syncretistic space, an archetypal form, a Utopia-making machine, a malleable instrument in the hands of artists, a symbol, a monument erected to the memory of illustrious men.

The catalogue Huang Yong Ping. Panthéon, published by Silvana Editoriale (Milan) under the artistic direction of Paola Manfrin, has been edited to accompany the exhibition.

The Centre international d’art et du paysage enjoys the support of the Ministry of Culture and Communication / Drac Limousin, the Limousin Regional Council, the Creuse General Council and the Vassivière en Limousin Regional and Inter-departmental Mixed Syndicate (SYMIVA).


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Huang Yong Ping
Kurator: Chiara Parisi