White Space Art Asia is proud to present ‘SMASH!’, a multimedia exhibition about the end of a long-standing love affair between an artist and the world of porcelain. Featuring local artist Yang Derong, ‘SMASH!’ is a visceral exploration of Yang’s tumultuous five-year struggle with creating, story-telling and making art through his army of porcelain pieces. From collection, creation and rejection to the eventual destruction of his hard-won porcelain assemblage, ‘SMASH!’ offers a powerful, brutally honest insight into the reality of the highs and lows of art-making.
Drawing from his past rejections faced as an artist, Yang breathes new life into his porcelains with a narrative that goes far beyond the objects. What’s presented in ‘SMASH!’ is a raw, confrontational and vulnerable reflection of Yang’s growth and journey as an artist. Set in five stages, follow Yang on his porcelain pilgrimage and immerse yourself in an intimate, all-consuming relationship between an artist and his art. Using both digital and physical media, ‘SMASH!’ is a fascinating insight into the psyche of an artist grappling with failure and transforming destruction into something beautiful.
The exhibition will also include a series of NFTs, alongside a video with musical accompaniment from acclaimed composer, playwright, and film director Dick Lee.
The first chapter of ‘SMASH!’ begins with Accumulage, charting the beginnings of Yang’s love affair with porcelain. The story begins with a single piece of porcelain. Followed by another. And then another. From the far-flung lands of Parisian shops and Thai markets, to the two-dollar porcelain works from Daiso, Yang’s diverse and growing army of porcelains was united by a singular vision: a story to tell. Stacks upon stacks of porcelains are piled on top of each other, their sheer volume a telling sign of Yang’s intense passion for his collection. In Accumulage, experience the thrilling sensation of an artist falling in love with his craft and discovering his raison d’être.
If Accumulage is the chapter of falling in love, Assemblage is the honeymoon where all the pieces fall into place. Here, we witness the peak of Yang’s creative euphoria. Likening himself to a conductor in an orchestra, Yang arranges, reassembles, and writes symphonies with his porcelain assemblage. He breathes life into both old and new porcelain works, rewriting their history with new stories that leap from his imagination. A time of inspiration and discovery, Assemblage is the stage of experimentation, euphoria, and the excitement that comes with the joy of creating art.
Having a smooth-sailing experience in art-making is never guaranteed, and Rage illustrates the brutal reality of an artist working to bring his dreams into fruition. Yang’s quest to bring his porcelain universe to the public stage was waylaid by multiple rejections from various institutions and galleries, chipping away at the fervent faith that he had in his work. Rage came with Yang’s devastating realisation of the time, money, and energy that was spent creating works that he believed in. Rage confronts us with a raw, deeply vulnerable and emotional experience that comes with the turbulent nature of art-making and the heartbreak that it leaves in its wake.
The fourth and penultimate chapter of ‘SMASH!’, Damage is the emotional crescendo of Yang’s tempestuous, five-year affair with porcelain and leaves in its wake the literal shards of a relationship once revered. With a single blow, followed by several blows thereafter, Yang takes a hammer to the works that had once consumed his life and with that he destroys, both symbolically and physically, his past attachments to a now destructive relationship. The visceral, impassioned experience of destroying treasured works is a gratifying release from a five-year struggle that gave Yang his highest highs and lowest lows. What’s left of Damage is the shattered remnants of an artist’s dreams, but with the hope of moving on.
The finale and closing chapter of ‘SMASH!’, Mirage is the light at the end of the tunnel for Yang and his porcelain works. Now existing in a multimedia verse of videos, Yang’s previously shattered and destroyed porcelains metamorphose into an infinite loop of kaleidoscopes. Distorted, warped, and altered, the porcelains are no longer bound by their physical existence and enter a digital nirvana. Their transformation and transition into the new world is a cathartic step for both parties, signifying the closure of the relationship between artist and artwork. Mirage is the stage of reflection, recovery and rebirth, and the move towards the metaphysical in the metaverse.
Yang is highly respected as a fashion designer, costume designer and multidisciplinary artist. His recent art projects include NEVERBEFORESG and FaceOfTheDay which were both hosted at the National Museum of Singapore. In the eighties and nineties, Yang worked with iconic designer Jean Charles de Castelbajac in Paris as his Directeur de Style, before spending twelve years living and working in the USA, UK, Germany and Hong Kong as Espirit’s International Global Image Director. He returned to Singapore in 2012 and has worked as the National Day Parade art director and costume designer for four National Day Parades (2010, 2014, 2015, 2019), including Singapore’s Golden Jubilee and Bicentennial celebrations. He has also co-created the 2019 Orchid Extravaganza show at Gardens by the Bay.
In addition to a career in fashion design, branding image and creative direction, Yang has designed costumes for the Singapore theatre scene, bringing to life productions that include Beauty World, Hotpants and Forbidden City- Portrait of an Empress, which won him an M1- The Straits Times Life! Theatre Award in 2003.
Learn more about Yang here.
White Space Art Asia was created in conjunction with Heng Artland Gallery of Singapore to discover and promote new artists. The challenge we set ourselves is to identify and introduce artists that stand the test of time. At the same time, we bring to you several of the most established and successful artists in Chinese contemporary art, many of whom we have built relationships with over the years. These strong ties developed through our over thirty years of experience in art, working with artists in China before the Chinese economy opened up and before there was even a Chinese art market.