Yang Shaobin gained international recognition for his Red Violence series of oil paintings featured in the 1999 Venice Biennale. In this series, he began to create an art form that focused on the depressing banality and brutality of the times, showing his reflections and critical thinking about existing social order and situation of the common people and the human spirit, as well as reflecting on the close connection to the modes of thought and cultural discourse prevalent at the time.
Yang Shaobin's exploration in the Red Violence series perfectly embodies this exploration of theme, and elucidates the formation of Yang's developing artistic language, technical skill and thematic vision. Painted in 1999, No. 18 (Lot 1444) uses the contrasting effect of red and white to display the tension of confrontational violence. Applying his wide paintbrushes with speed and agility, and making use of the unbridled fluidity of the diluted oil paint, Yang creates an image that can be seen as an appropriation of the dynamic use of brushstrokes in an abstract expressionistic manner to expose the image of violence. Having tenured as a police officer in the Public Security Bureau before the start of his art career, Yang's images are in fact self-referential metaphors that points to real life experiences. In Untitled No. 7 (Lot 1445), he depicts a direct engagement with the processes and results of violence, and preoccupation with power in its various abuses and incarnations. The result is a stunning composition of active wrestling pose in a contained yet constant motion. The works not only reflect the artist's thorough understanding of humanity, but also illustrates the correlative relationship between compassion and humanitarianism and brutal violence, and provokes re-examination and reflection on current societies and human relationships.
Yang Shaobin's admiration for great film masters Federico Fellini and ingmar Bergman lead to exploring the theme of violence, the artist shifts his concern from personal experiences, to one that places importance on human society and their living environment. Created in 2006, Gray Shadow (Lot 1537) through a segregation of colour gradation; the strong narrative styles cases a cinematic atmosphere like an abrupt scene from an invented plot that the audience is brought to engage in albeit distantly. The shifting international climate and outbreak of wars at the time left the artist to realize that violence does not merely exist as physical attacks; but can also be found in the form of monopolization and exploitation on an ideological and intellectual level - one that Yang describes as 'soft violence'. From the earlier piece to this, Yang's works reveal the evolution and transformation of perspectives within the artist's creative process in eliciting a universal understanding of chaos and violence inherent in human nature.