Oscar Yi Hou

​​Oscar Yi Hou (b. 1998 in Liverpool, England; lives and works in New York) received his BA at Columbia University, NY. His work has been included in exhibitions at T293 Gallery (Rome, IT); Asia Society, Tong Art Advisory, Half Gallery, Rachel Uffner (NYC); Kohn Gallery (LA); and the Royal Academy (London, UK).
August 31, 2021
Tell us about your practice.
I work mainly in oil paint, working on either canvas or paper. Deploying language, symbology, and figuration, my work deals with the complexity of personhood rendered minor.
A big part of your body of work is figurative portraits of people that you’re close to. Can you explain how you approach painting these figures?
Compositionally I pull from a variety of sources — images, archives, other paintings, life, and sketches.
Compositionally you’ve used borders to infuse a lot of the symbolism that is iconic to your works. What is your approach to bringing the figures and the symbols together within your paintings?
I will often use symbols to signify the figures I paint. Since I try and paint the relationship I share with these figures,
I will often signify this relationship through such symbols.
Writing and language, in general, seem to be integral aspects of your practice, whether it’s your take on Chinese characters or infusing your own poems into the work. Can you explain a little bit the thought behind that?
For me, language was just something I’ve always done alongside art-making. And I think any one of the diaspora has a complicated relationship with language. For me, I’ve always had an estranged relationship with Chinese – a foreign language I can’t read or write, yet one that I feel intimate and familiar with. My use of illegible language in my paintings expresses such a relationship.
What are some of the things you are thinking about/reflecting on for your solo show at James Fuentes?
I’m excited to finally present a cohesive body of work all together in New York.
What has been inspiring you lately?
Graffiti. And Warrior, the TV series.

Watch Instagram Live

Stay in the loop