Oscar yi Hou painting British-Chinese artist
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June 7, 2022
Art
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Within the fascinating symbolism of Oscar yi Hou’s paintings

There is always more to see in the intricate and colorful paintings of Oscar yi Hou, where enigmatic portraits come to life next to vast arrays of vivid symbols.

Born in 1998 in the city of Liverpool, Oscar yi Hou is an internet child who grew up drawing Pokémon fanart on his tablet. Always drawn to art, he learned its basics on apps and websites before moving to New York in 2017 for an undergraduate degree at Columbia University.

Now living and working in Brooklyn, the young artist who started his career amid the pandemic has been on a spectacular trajectory. Awarded the UOVO Prize this year, he obtained a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, a public installation on the facade of UOVO's Bushwick Facility, and a $25,000 grant.

Inspired by painters such as Martin Wong and Alice Neel and  Japanese homoerotic artists like Tamotsu Yato and Sadao Hasegawa, Oscar yi Hou’s work stands out by its intricacy and symbolism as much as his usage of both Western and Eastern iconography. Influenced by his Chinese heritage, Chinese calligraphy stands alongside New York graffiti and sheriff stars in his paintings.

Interested by orientalism and its mystification of Eastern art and culture, Oscar yi Hou explores the notion of otherness through race and queerness. The series of portraits from his solo exhibition at James Fuentes in August 2021, titled "A sky-licker relation", expands this research. He also worked last year on a group exhibition, QUEER OUT T/HERE, which explored these notions through an East-Asian perspective. After a fully packed year and a skyrocketing career, a lot more awaits Oscar yi Hou and we cannot wait to see his new work for his solo exhibition next Fall!

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