Oscar yi Hou's Debut Solo Exhibit Is Where The Diasporic East Meets West

By Bianca Gracie | October 14, 2022

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Oscar yi Hou in his studio, 2022. (Photo: Hannah Wyatt)

The Western point of view has historically been exclusive, portraying a white-washed and unattainable lifestyle that has long been reflected in various creative mediums from music to fashion to art. But artists like Oscar yi Hou (@oscyhou) are shattering that archaic standard by injecting heart, vulnerability and sociopolitical commentary into their artwork. Yi Hou, a Liverpool, England, native who now resides in Brooklyn, N.Y., uses his paintings to highlight the experiences of the queer Asian community. The artist’s work explores both the beauty and struggle of the Asian diaspora and marginalized communities, which recently led to the Brooklyn Museum crowning him as the recipient of its third annual UOVO Prize. The award includes a $25,000 cash grant, a solo exhibition at the museum and a 50-square-foot mural on the facade of the Brooklyn facility of UOVO, the art storage company that funds the prize.

This fall, yi Hou’s first solo museum show, East of sun, west of moon (which is on view from Oct. 14 through Sept. 17, 2023, in the Brooklyn Museum’s fourth-floor Ingrassia Gallery), is comprised of 11 paintings. They all celebrate and explore the intersection of Asian and Asian American identities in the wake of the increasing violence and racism toward Asian people across the U.S. The mural, titled “Flock together, aka: a mural family portrait” (2022), draws upon the artist’s painting “birds of a feather flock together, aka: A New Family Portrait” (2020) and is on view at UOVO through June 2023.

Oscar yi Hou (born Liverpool, UK, 1998). birds of a feather flock together, aka: A New Family Portrait, 2020. Oil on canvas, 61 × 43 in. (154.9 × 109.2 cm). Courtesy of Carl Freedman Gallery. © Oscar yi Hou. (Photo: Oscar yi Hou)

“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. “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. I hope that in encountering the figures, symbols and texts that populate my practice—contextualized within the Brooklyn Museum—viewers will trace relations between the past and the present, kindling new meanings and connections.”

Oscar yi Hou (born Liverpool, UK, 1998). Cowboy Kato Coolie, aka: Bruce’s Bitch, 2021. Oil on canvas, 28 1/8 × 22 in. (71.4 × 55.9 cm). Courtesy of James Fuentes LLC. © Oscar yi Hou. (Photo: Jason Mandella, courtesy of James Fuentes LLC)

Yi Hou’s work has previously been featured at New York City’s James Fuentes LLC and Rome’s T293 Gallery. He is currently an artist in residence at Silver Arts Project in 4 World Trade Center.

Photography by: Hannah Wyatt; Oscar yi Hou; Jason Mandella, courtesy of James Fuentes LLC