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Introduction

Huang Ran (b. 1982) was born in Sichuan and currently lives and works in Beijing. In 2004, he graduated from Birmingham Institute of Art and Design with a First Class BA (Hons) Fine Arts degree and later received his MFA Fine Arts degree at Goldsmiths College, London in 2007. Though primarily working in video, Ran Huang is also known for his conceptual painting practice, sculptural installations and prints. Despite his use in a variety of media, the same issues regarding the instability of human nature and the negotiation between truth and history are of paramount importance.

The absurdity of the protagonists’ in his earlier video works Turn Over(2007) and The Next Round is True Life(2009) belie the profundity of these works’ reflections on the nature of human society and personal interactions. Upon the realization of Fake Action Truth(2009) Ran Huang begins to transfer his observations onto the ambiguities inherent in human nature. The fundamental conflicts between love and violence, and beauty and ugliness that prevail throughout Ran Huang’s video pieces are gradually revealed through a veneer of images evoking profound tranquillity and operatic silences. Blithe Tragedy(2010) imbues a constant feeling of hidden horrors beneath the appearance of aesthetic perfection. The sadomasochistic relationship between the central figures reveals sexual ambiguities and the possibility that love may sometimes find its roots in violence.

The Administration of Glory (2014), Ran Huang’s most recent short film, was selected for the Palme d’Or at the 67th Cannes International Film Festival. It brings together five parallel narratives covering themes of deception, theft, and violations both the sacred and the mundane.

Ran Huang’s “Self-portrait” series consists of paintings misappropriated from the German artist Martin Kippenberger, transforming the familiar images from those deeply rooted in art historical language, style, and relevance to images that embrace their newfound personal history. In effect, his paintings deconstruct and even destroy long-established structures around ideas of the success, importance, and value. He views the series as a continuous conceptual project with aspects more akin to a performance based on the passage of time.

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