Yang Maoyuan was born in the Liaoning Province in 1966, and, developing an instant affinity for art, enrolled and graduated from the Central Institute of Fine Arts, Beijing in 1989. Since then, he has become one of the most famous contemporary Chinese artists, and is gaining a world-wide reputation for his sculptural figures.
His sculptural busts are some of his most enigmatic and striking pieces. His breathtaking rendering skills in both marble and bronze create works based on famous figures of Eastern and Western culture. With subjects like his philosopher series both carved in glistening white marble or cast in a dark bronze, the once-recognizable images of Homer, Voltaire and the Buddha become polished fragments with much of their faces left as unfinished spheres as if time has eroded their portraits to mere suggestions.
His Buddha faces adopt an ancient quality, with an ochre pigment rubbed on the marble so as it appears to be carved from an umber stone. While his ''Western'' subjects have traditional Grecco-Roman ''feet'' that support the busts as pedestals, his Eastern Faces series have the Buddha heads mounted on stands, as if discovered amongst rubble in a long-forgotten temple and then preserved for a museum context. The facial features also have the shape of South-Asian artifacts, with elongated eyes shut slightly as if in meditation, and a carved circle on his lower brow denoting a ''third eye'', an iconographic marker of the Enlightened One.
Featured in more than 35 shows since his graduation from the Central Institute, he was also honored with the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA) in 2002. While his worjk has been shown in museums and galleries all around China, his popularity also spread through Europe, with exhibitions in Belgium, Germany, France, Italy and the U.K. He now lives and works in China, where he has also experimented with video and performance art.