Black and white still from a video depicting mountains, which on closer inspection are made up of buildings.

Yang Yongliang, Mountains of Crowds, 2016. Still from video. Courtesy the artist. © Yang Yongliang.

Yang Yongliang, Mountains of Crowds

Year: 2016
Medium: HD Video
Dimensions: 7m 58s running time
Brief biography: b. 1980, Shanghai, China. Lives and works in New York, USA and Shanghai, China.


Yang Yongliang was trained as a pupil to traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy since early childhood, he later graduated from China Academy of Art in Shanghai in 2003, majoring in Visual Communication. Yang Yongliang exploits a connection between traditional art and the contemporary, implementing ancient oriental aesthetics and literati beliefs with modern language and digital techniques.

Mountains of Crowds is a HD video made in 2016. Yang Yongliang uses images of architecture as brushstrokes; heavy mountain rocks with enriched details draw a faithful reference to Song Dynasty landscape painting. Urban development makes life in the city flourish, but it also imprisons these lives; centuries-old cultural tradition in China is profound, but it has also remained stagnant. Ancient Chinese people painted landscapes to praise the greatness of nature; Yang’s works, on the other hand, lead towards a critical re-thinking of contemporary reality.

In Mountains of Crowds, Yang features a large crowd of people in a busy city centre. As it occurs in urban life everyday, the crowd is seen as a part of the landscape. They move faster and faster, people submerge in each other until they gradually become blurry, and even invisible. However, despite the change in the crowd, the mountains stay still.

Mountains of Crowds exhibited as part of group show Digital Matters: The Earth Behind the Screen at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Manchester (November 2017 – February 2018). In November 2018, the work will exhibit in Acquired: a century of collecting at Salford Museum and Art Gallery.

Yang Yongliang’s work has been exhibited internationally at museums and biennials, such as Thessaloniki Biennale in Greece (2009); Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing (2012); National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne (2012); Moscow Biennale (2013); Metropolitan Museum of Art New York (2013); Daegu Photo Biennale in Korea (2014); Singapore ArtScience Museum (2014); Modern Art Museum Paris (2015); Kunst und Kultur in Neuried e.V (2015); Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (2015); Somerset House London (2016, 2013); Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney (2016, 2011). His work has also been collected by more than 20 public institutes including the British Museum; Brooklyn Museum; How Art Museum in Shanghai; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; Museum of Fine Arts Boston; San Francisco Asian Art Museum and University of Salford Art Collection.

Artist’s website: www.yangyongliang.com

Mountains of Crowds was purchased with support form Art Fund.