For someone who produces large-scale statement art pieces, Xiamen-born artist Huang Yong Ping is surprisingly reticent. During our time with him at the opening of his Bâton Serpent III: Spur Track to the Left exhibition at the Power Station of Art (PSA), he is quietly reserved, and when he does offer comment it’s in a rapid, hushed manner as if he wants his sentences to be over as soon as possible (at least in the presence of the press, which may be somewhat understandable).
Dressed in all black with circular specs perched on his nose just below a greying comb-over, the wiry 62-year-old is content to let his huge – and hugely impressive – art do most of the talking. Bâton Serpent III, a continuation of sorts from exhibitions shown in Rome (2014’s Bâton Serpent) and Beijing (last year’s Bâton Serpent II), presents two dozen of Huang’s works dating back to 1995, including some that have been modified specifically for the PSA’s colossal space.
‘This exhibition was in Beijing for three months and coming here means it’s kind of the same audience – of course people from Shanghai go to exhibitions in Beijing, it’s like showing to the same people,’ says Huang. ‘So this exhibition had to be expanded, this was very important for me.’
Huang’s expansionism applies directly to his works too. Whereas one of the city’s other major art exhibitions of the moment – the Yuz Museum’s Alberto Giacometti retrospective – features sculptures whose monumentalism defies their often miniature scale, Bâton Serpent III showcases a number of simply enormous pieces of art.