This interview was conducted at Yang Xiaoyan's studio in Guangzhou on 19 January 2008. For more information please visit the Materials of the Future website.



Yang Xiaoyan (b. 1957, Guangzhou) is an art theorist and critic who works in Guangzhou.

Yang studied in the Department of Oil Painting at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts (GAFA) between 1978 and 1982, and continued at GAFA to receive his master’s degree in 1987. Over the years, he has held a number of key editorial positions at the Huacheng Publishing House (1982–1984); the Lingnan Art Publishing House in Guangzhou (1984–1987); and was chief editor of Art Gallery (Hualang) magazine between 1993 and 1998.

Between 1999 and 2004, Yang pursued his doctoral degree on the theory of architecture in the School of Architecture at the South China University of Technology. 

Yang’s studies and critiques have contributed greatly to the fields of art, photography and journalism. His publications include Art History and Its Significance (Yishushi de yiyi, in collaboration with Shao Hong) (2001) and Sixty Years of Chinese Photography (Xinzhongguo sheying liushinian) (2009).





In 2006, Asia Art Archive began a focused archiving project called 'Materials of the Future: Documenting Contemporary Chinese Art from 1980-1990'. This project aimed at developing a comprehensive collection of primary research materials including books, periodicals, newspapers, exhibition brochures, invitations, video recordings, correspondence, and other relevant documents. 

As part of this project, AAA digitised more than 80,000 items of material from personal archives to include artists Mao Xuhui, Wu Shanzhuan, Zhang Xiaogang, and Zhang Peili; curators and critics Fei Dawei, Lu Peng, and Zheng Shengtian; as well as the archives of Tokyo Art Gallery. As part of the research process over 75 in-depth interviews with key artists, curators, and critics were conducted. From a portion of these interviews, AAA created a documentary film about experimental art in South China (Guangzhou) in the 1980s entitled From Jean-Paul Sartre to Teresa Teng: Contemporary Cantonese Art in the 1980s.

AAA’s 1980s archiving project culminated with the launch of a comprehensive website portal called in September 2010.

Alternative title

Fang Wen: Yang Xiao Yan

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Spoken language


Content type

event photograph/recording, 

interview documentation

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Interview: Yang Xiaoyan (Chinese subtitles), 訪問:楊小彥