Born in Taipei, Taiwan. Yang moved to Japan in 1923 where he studied at the school of Fine Arts and Crafts in Kyoto. He was then transferred to the Western Painting Programme in the Kansai Art Academy. He returned to Taiwan in 1927, and founded the Ruddy Island Association together with Ni Chiang-huai and Liao Chi-chun. In 1929, he won the first prize of the Taiwan Exhibition. Yang went to France in 1931 where he studied European paintings in the museums. In the following year, his works were selected for the Autumn Salon in Paris. In 1934, he together with Chen Cheng-po, and Liao Chi-chun established the Taiyang Art Association. Yang had numerous solo shows and received many awards from important art exhibitions including: "Fifty Years of Studying Art" at the Provincial Museum in 1973 and "Oil Paintings by Yang San-lang" in 1979, and "Retrospective Exhibition of Yang San-lang's Paintings" in 1983 at the National Museum of History. Yang received a special national art award in 1986 for his great contribution to the Taiwanese art world.