Born 1983, Shantou, Guangdong

There is nothing remotely natural about Huang Yishan’s pictures. His windowless, clinical rooms seem to hold no air, only carbolic and formaldehyde. Their contents are those of the hospital or morgue: gurneys, specimen jars, sinks and operating tables. People—if they appear at all—are either doctors or patients, perpetrators or victims of bizarre experiments. In Study of Facial Expression (2009), the expressions in question are on detached heads, arrayed on a table.  In Magic (2009), a surgeon in cap and gown saws through a naked man laid out like a specimen in a glass box. White Rabbit’s Dish Disinfection Cabinet (2009) shows, on a grey-tiled floor, a stainless-steel freezer with doors of clear plastic and a real wire connecting it to a power outlet. Inside are stacked white dinner plates spattered with blood. As in all his pictures, the effect is of an immaculate, antiseptic hell in which life is analysed and dissected to death. The tiles that pave so many of Huang Yishan’s rooms are undistorted by perspective, giving the impression that they form a wall rather than a floor—and that anyone who tries to step into the picture will instead slide into the abyss.

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