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The Asian Art Initiative of the Guggenheim Museum, New York will present the first major exhibition in Europe of contemporary artist Yu Hong. Yu Hong: Another One Bites the Dust will take place in the Chiesetta della Misericordia, Cannaregio, Venice, concurrently with the 60th International Venice Biennale, and is curated by Alexandra Munroe, Senior Curator at Large, Global Arts, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation. The exhibition will be accompanied by a new immersive soundscape by composer Nico Muhly. To the Body will launch on June 6, 2024, and run for the duration of the exhibition. 

Yu Hong: Another One Bites the Dust will feature new figurative and narrative paintings that respond to the architectural and cultural context of the Chiesetta della Misericordia, a deconsecrated tenth-century Byzantine-Romanesque church. In this cycle of paintings, Yu Hong depicts the arc of the human experience—birth, life, desire, sex, and death. Drawing from her image archive, and daily scrolling of the Internet and social media, she represents figures, mostly women and young people, in momentary torqued and twisted poses expressing mental anguish or imminent physical danger, both real and fantastical. The scale is phenomenological, immersing the viewer in the kinaesthetic tumult of bodies while using spatial concepts drawn from Buddhist narrative painting, Byzantine icons, and the Italian Baroque. Set against a gold ground and shaped as large tondos or arched panels, the works in Another One Bites the Dust confront and upend the epic themes of sacred art while embracing painting’s capacity to portray the sorrows of the human condition.

The title of the exhibition references the 1980 pop song of the same name by the rock band Queen. Originally from the King James Bible, the expression “bite the dust” is also famously used by Lu Xun, China’s early-modern progressive whose writings inscribe political reality as “the tragic recurrence of past experiences.” Through her lushly painted stories, Yu Hong considers the radical changes wrought on humanity by the speed and totality of globalization, and the uneven histories of postcolonialism.

Yu Hong was born in 1966 in Xi’an, China and lives and works in Beijing and New York. Trained in Soviet-style realism, she is the product of a complex inheritance. Yu Hong draws from the histories of world painting as well as from the lineages of modern and contemporary art. She won early critical acclaim as a member of China’s New Generation artists, renowned for illustrating the psychological displacement of individuals in the throes of rapid change. Over her four-decade career, Yu Hong has presented a visual accounting of contemporary life, often through the position of the female Chinese body. More recently, she engages with surreal scenes of ecological ruin, mass migration, and human and animal despair, extending the implications of her epic narratives from a nation to the planet.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a program of public talks and performances featuring Michael Armitage, Hou Hanru, Nico Muhly, and Hans Ulrich Obrist. On November 10, 2024, To the Body will be presented live by Works & Process at the Guggenheim Museum, New York.

A catalogue published by DelMonico Books/D.A.P. will include contributions by Alexandra Munroe, Loredana Gazzara and Nico Muhly, and a conversation between Michael Armitage and Yu Hong.

Yu Hong: Another One Bites the Dust is a program of the Asian Art Initiative of the Guggenheim Museum, New York that is supported by the museum’s Asian Art Circle. 

Yu Hong: Another One Bites the Dust at the Chiesetta della Misericordia of Art Events is supported by Lisson Gallery and the Leadership Committee of the exhibition, with special thanks to the Simian Foundation.   

To the Body by Nico Muhly was commissioned by Works & Process with support from the American Academy in Rome and the Guggenheim Museum’s Asian Art Circle.