Artist Focus – Danful Yang at PAD art fair 2012 @PearlLamGalleries


Set in the vivacious heart of Mayfair, PAD (which runs alongside the Frieze Contemporary Art Fair) exhibits a heady mixture of contemporary, modern and antique art, design and decorative arts. With its sophisticated setting in the middle of Berkeley Square, it was a place to discover how modern art, design, decorative arts and photography – along with tribal arts – come together to reveal the most phenomenal fusions. At PAD,  the galleries themselves take centre stage to showcase a huge diversity of what is currently considered art – all presented with panache, innovation and an interesting contrast between the staunchly traditional and frighteningly avant-garde.

Since 1993, Pearl Lam Design have been exhibiting and promoting Chinese and world contemporary art and design.This October, they were in London for the first time since 2007, showcasing six international artists and designers from very different design backgrounds.

Danful Yang stands in front of her piece, ‘Angels or Devils’ (wall-mounted ceramics). Knitted eyeballs are a piece called ‘Observer’ by Patricia Waller
With her work exhibited and sold internationally, Danful Yang is one of these six. Her work is a vivid reflection of her own views about consumer culture worldwide, and we recently managed to speak to her about the ideas behind her pieces.
Tell us about yourself and your background?
I taught myself. I did not have any academic training regarding art and design. I worked for Pearl Lam Designs since 2003 as a member of production team. Around 2005, Pearl thought I had the talent, then she encouraged me to be creative, and so I started my own designs.

Did you always want to be a designer?

No, I had no idea of what is design or art, as my BA is international business. So I was completely new to the design world.

How do you come up with these ideas?

The idea comes automatically. If I have an idea, I can’t sleep. My brain gets very active and excited. My pieces are not like an industry design but they have narrative stories behind the objects I would like to tell.



Are the messages within you pieces directed at someone in particular, or just for society to think about?

Chair from Danful’s ‘FAKE’ series

Part of the FAKE series, I was thinking about how everyone wants to have the brands and the younger generations can’t afford the real ones so they want to buy the fake ones –  but it’s so boring! Why not be creative instead of making an exact fake copy of a real product? Sometimes people are not comfortable without the label because people judge you by your appearance. So what I want to say that this is wrong because if you have confidence you can have anything. When I develop more, I found out deeper meaning. The rich people can buy everything while the poor can not afford to buy even a fake. Such a contrast and real world.

How would you define your own style?

I would never define my own style because I have no style. I just enjoy all the creative things.

How long do your pieces take to make?

It depends. The embroidery on the stools I called ‘Packing me softly’ because I’m talking about people’s different attitude to packaging boxes and things inside. I would like to use the most fragile technique on the box to show that people have to take care of the packaging box as well instead of treating them very rudly. I had six ladies’ hand embroidery for two months.

Pearl Lam Designs presented at PAD London

Do you take inspiration from anyone?

Yes, Andre Dubreuil. He’s the master. In the western world for design, people always ask you what’s the concept behind your pieces. But why do you have to have a concept? Sometimes you’re just following your passion. He said, ‘Next time I’m going to China I’m going to make a t-shirt which says “Andre Dubrueil – no concept”. It’s a kind of statement.

Your work is very cross-cultural.  Why did you choose for it to be cross-cultural?

I didn’t purposely choose it as cross-cultural. It is said that China has lots of fake bags, etc. – that they don’t respect copyright, and that they don’t invent things…they just follow. In Milan and France you can buy fake Louis fourteen , fifteen furniture, and in China you can buy fake Ming and Qing Dynasty furniture. That’s why I like to combine, because it’s not a problem of China, it’s a problem of the whole world.

I really like your piece [Angels or Devils]. What is the meaning behind this piece?

I think that we human beings are doing so many nasty things on the planet to the other creatures. But it’s not only us, we share the world. If we continue doing this bad behaviour then the future human beings which are our babies will suffer because of our actions. When people see babies they show love, but and when they see a broken baby they have a question why. I want to use the babies in my design to draw attention to think about how we can have good behaviour to the other creatures on the planet, so this does not happen to our babies. We are so selfish…we are just doing things for human beings, and that is not right and it’s not fair.

Wall mounted ceramics – ‘Angels or Devils’ by Danful Yang. Zig-zag table console – ‘Painting on the Wall’ by Philip Michael Wolfson
Text and interview by Freya Shah
Photography shot on location at London’s PAD in Berkerly Square by David Harilal
With thanks to Danful Yang and Veronique at Pearl Lam Galleries.

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