In 2002, Yanyang obtained his Bachelor's and in 2005 his Master’s Degree of Fine Art from one of the most elite art academies in China, the Sichuan Academy of Fine Art. In 2005, he participated in his first important museum show at the He Xiangning Museum in Shenzhen, China. And in 2006, he was selected to participate in his first international exhibition in Pusan, South Korea.

In 2007, Mao Yanyang was selected as one of the top 25 emerging Chinese artists (out of over 1,000 applicants) at the Chinese Art Prize (CAP). In the same year, his work was exhibited at the Zhu Qizhan and Duolun Museums in Shanghai and at the BS1 Contemporary Art Museum in Beijing. In 2008, he won the CAP Gold Prize and was selected to participate in the Asian Triennial in Manchester, UK. He was also awarded a scholarship to study at the Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester, United Kingdom. Yanyang has also exhibited at the Art Cologne Art Fair, as well as in New York City.

Mao Yanyang’s realist expressionist works are a social commentary on the ubiquitous nature and visceral impact of the media. The microphone, a symbol of the media’s voice, is central to the works and, importantly, is always depicted in groups, reflecting the media’s ever-present nature.

The microphones also highlight the media’s subjective nature and the profound impact that it has on writing history. "The main purpose of the microphones, as a part of different historical events creating a surreal effect amidst depiction of conflicts, is to reveal in my works a dramatic absurdity mixed with hyper reality. This should lead the viewer to question the truth of media reports on historical events. No one can figure out exactly what happened in history".

Mao Yanyang relies on iconic images, as well as his own surreal creations to carry his point across. His subjects are highly diverse, from a primal, cigarette-toting monkey to a spoof on the iconic “Times Square Kiss” photograph taken the day World War II ended by Alfred Eisenstaedt, often called “The Father of Photojournalism”. Yanyang points out that the collective unconscious shaped by the media touches everyone and we should therefore constantly question its objectivity. Such a direct criticism of the media is highly daring, particularly given China’s tight control over its media.