Cultural Connection – Enter the Year of the Dragon

Image courtesy of K.T. Wong Foundation


The K.T. Wong Foundation shares spectacular video created by celebrated Chinese artist Yang Yongliang on show at the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town to celebrate Chinese New Year and promote cross cultural relations between China and South Africa

In support of the impending Chinese New Year, heralding the year of the Dragon, the K.T. Wong Foundation has partnered with Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town for a special screening of Chinese contemporary multimedia artist Yang Yongliang’s (YYL) masterpiece ‘Five Dragons’ on Saturday 10th February 2024. It will be free to the public.

The generous gesture of goodwill is the brainchild of Lady Linda Wong-Davies, who founded the K.T. Wong Foundation in 2008 in the UK, to nurture and foster cultural understanding of China, and the rest of the world and vice versa. The Foundation now has outreaches in South Africa, UK, Europe, and China. The foundation supports several initiatives with local public arts and educational institutions by linking the vibrant African arts scene to the established but often, unknown cultural scripts in China.

Of the donation of this public screening to the Iziko South African National Gallery which will run for three months, Lady Wong-Davies says: “I am delighted to be able to share this exceptional work by one of China’s most important contemporary artists today. The aim of screening this art piece is not only to welcome in the year of the Dragon, but to reflect on the artistic representations of landscape in contemporary encounters between Asia and Africa, and to promote awareness to South African audiences about other cultural histories.”

“I am grateful to the Gallery for their support and their important role in facilitating this cultural exchange.”

Traditionally, Chinese dragons are water gods overlooking the ocean and protecting the ecology. However, since the twentieth century, dragons have been misused widely as auspicious figures, or generalised as Asian cultural symbols. In the Five Dragon series, Yang Yongliang has focused on melding fantasy and ancient wisdom, to set a new narrative for self-interpretation and reflection and by the viewer.

According to the artist himself, Five Dragons unveils the cohabitation of five dragons amongst a natural landscape with their destinies unforeseen. The work is inspired by the Southern Song dynasty master painter Chen Rong’s (C.1200 – 1266) traditional depiction of these mythical beasts.

Andrew Lamprecht, Chief Curator at the Iziko South African National Gallery is equally pleased the Gallery can be involved in this sharing of cultures, saying: “I am thrilled to be part of this cross-cultural event which brings the historical art of China into a contemporary focus. We are grateful to the KT Wong Foundation for bringing this innovative example of cutting-edge video art to the Iziko South African National Gallery and look forward to exciting collaborations in the future.”

2024 is specifically the year of the Wood Dragon and as expected of a dragon, the year ahead is anticipated to deliver opportunities, evolution, and abundance. The dragon is traditionally the emblem for Chinese emperors as they are the earthly manifestation of the Sons of Heaven. Red is most often the colour associated with the Dragon and in Chinese mythology, wearing red or adding red to décor is a traditional attraction for good fortune.

The video is a visual marvel that will delight audiences of all ages and allows all who watch it to suspend the everyday for the 8 minute 54 second duration (which is on a loop) and beyond.

The Five Dragons screening forms part of the Foundation’s ambitious ‘Marvellous Realism’ art exhibition, which will entail curated African photographic artworks travelling to Shanghai later in 2024. The exhibition’s purpose is to present a reorientation of the meaning of Africa beyond the commonplace imagery circulating about the continent and its peoples.

Five Dragons Event details:

Saturday 10 February 2024

Time:     14:00

Cost:      Free

Venue: Iziko South African National Gallery in partnership with the K.T. Wong Foundation.

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