Since 2007, the Monumenta exhibition has invited a major international artist to create a work of art for the Nave of the Grand Palais, a vast 13,500-m² space with a 35-metre-high glass roof. In 2016, the artist Huang Yong Ping will be taking up the challenge. Widely considered the precursor of contemporary art in China, he draws inspiration from both Western and Eastern mythology to connect art to everyday life and politics. He first came into the public eye in France at ‘Magicians of the Earth’, a 1989 exhibition at the Pompidou Centre. The Monumenta 2016 exhibition – titled ‘Empires’, to be held at the Grand Palais from 8 May to 18 June – gives him a fresh opportunity to create a large-scale work of international significance.
The artist has constructed a colourful architecture of eight islands within the Nave. Hanging above it is another structure whose looming shadow echoes the shape of the steel frame of the Nave’s glass dome. This spectacular installation reflects our changing world: the disappearance of ancient empires, the shifts in political and economic power and the dominance of particular geographical regions. The artist uses the industrial-age building that is the Grand Palais as a vehicle to explore the transformation of the world and address issues such as ambition, the desire for power, war and violence.
By leveraging the symbolism of the great glass dome for the purposes of his installation, the artist allows the viewer to grasp the full scale of his immersive work; standing in the central corridor, the viewer’s gaze sweeps over the entire installation.