Brooklyn-based artist Oscar yi Hou receives UOVO Prize
Will receive solo exhibition at Brooklyn Museum
The Brooklyn Museum has awarded Oscar yi Hou the third annual UOVO Prize, which recognizes the work of emerging Brooklyn-based artists.
Yi Hou’s art primarily focuses on the human form, and explores the complexity of identity through layers of iconography, symbolic references and poetry. As the honoree, yi Hou, will receive a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, a commission for a 50×50-foot public art installation on the façade of UOVO’s Brooklyn facility in Bushwick, and a $25,000 unrestricted cash grant. His public installation and museum exhibition will debut later this year.
Yi Hou was selected by a team of curators from the Brooklyn Museum, and the exhibition, the artist’s first solo museum show, will be curated by Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein senior curator of Asian art at the Brooklyn Museum.
“We’re thrilled to select yi Hou as our next UOVO Prize recipient and welcome this opportunity to introduce the breadth of his artistic practice to our visitors. In addition, we’re excited to see how he’ll put his work in conversation with examples drawn from our newly reinstalled collection of Asian art, a strategy utilized by past prize winners, including Baseera Khan. We deeply appreciate the continued support of UOVO, which makes it possible for us to highlight some of the incredible emerging talent from across our great borough,” says Tsai.
Born in Liverpool to Cantonese immigrants, yi Hou is known for vibrantly hued paintings that often depict gay Asian diasporic subjects, exploring parallels between these two marginalized identities. The portraits depictindividuals drawn from yi Hou’s circle of friends and capture their relationships with each other and with the artist.
Yi Hou’s painterly canvases are also dense with graphic symbols, some of which resemble characters from both Chinese calligraphy and American graffiti. Yi Hou’s given Chinese name refers to a bird’s cry, a symbol that appears often throughout his work as a stand-in for himself. Structurally, yi Hou’s practice can be seen as his own interpretation of the Chinese tradition of the “Three Perfections”—the classical combination of poetry, calligraphy and painting within a single visual work.
“It’s such an honor to be presenting my first solo museum exhibition with the Brooklyn Museum, especially since it’s so close to where I live,” says yi Hou. “I’m thrilled to be working closely with the staff, and I thank the jury for their faith in me. Part of my excitement lies in the fact that I’ll be working in dialogue with one of America’s foremost collections of Asian art, fueling my preoccupation with Western-owned East Asian archival materials.”
Steven Guttman, UOVO founder and co-chairman, adds, “We are privileged to join the Brooklyn Museum in announcing Oscar yi Hou as the third annual recipient of the UOVO Prize. Yi Hou’s work encapsulates many of the themes germane to American art, and we are honored to provide a platform for him to express his vision to our local community.”
Oscar yi Hou received his B.A. from Columbia University. Previously, he studied at the Sorbonne Art School. Recent solo exhibitions include A sky-licker relation at James Fuentes, New York (2021); A dozen poem-pictures at James Fuentes Online (2021); and Crane Seeking Comforts at T293 Gallery, Rome (2021). He is currently an artist-in-residence at 4 World Trade Center, New York, as part of the Silver Art Projects studio program.
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