Yu Youhan was born in 1943 in Shanghai, where he continues to live today. Graduating from the Central Academy of Art and Design, Beijing in 1973.
One of the most important and influential artists in China, Yu Youhan’s artistic practice dates back to the 1970s, while the 1980s is widely considered the beginning of Chinese contemporary art. As a leading pioneer of Chinese abstract painting and political pop movement, Yu's oeuvre combines multiple perspectives, investigating the structure of cultural identity in China through various pictorial techniques. His paintings—ubiquitous yet intriguing—has had a major impact on the art scene, and inspired a younger generation of artists.
Yu represented China at the 22nd São Paulo Biennale, Brazil (1994), the 45th Venice Biennale (1993) and the 1st Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (1993). His works have been presented in numerous prestigious venues worldwide, including YU Youhan: Eternal and Ever-changing, G Museum, Nanjing (2022); Cycle · Freedom: Yu Youhan’s Abstract Works in the 2010s, ShanghART, Beijing (2020); The Representational and The Abstract, The Long Museum, Chongqing (2018); Shanghai Beat - The Dynamism of Contemporary Art Scene in Shanghai, Contemporary Art Museum, Kumamoto, Japan (2018); Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, U.S.A. (2017); Yu Youhan: The Representational and The Abstract, ShanghART, Shanghai (2017); Yu Youhan Retrospective, PSA China Contemporary Art Collection Series, Power Station of Art, Shanghai (2016); YU Youhan 1973-1988, Long Museum (West Bund), Shanghai (2016); Yu Youhan's Paintings, ShanghART H-Space, Shanghai (2011); Out of Shanghai, Museum gegenstandsfreier Kunst, Otterndorf, Germany (2009); Writing on the Wall: Chinese New Realism and Avant-Garde in the Eighties and Nineties, Groninger Museum, The Netherlands (2008); Yu Youhan: Landscape of Yi Meng Shan, ShanghART H-Space, Shanghai (2004); Chine, le corps partout? (China, the body everywhere?), Museum of Contemporary Art, Marseilles, France (2004); Ah! Us, ShanghART Fuxing Park, Shanghai (1999); China/Avant-Garde Art Exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing (1989) etc.