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 Huang Yi  (1968 - )

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Lived/Active: China      Known for: still life painting

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Biography from Verna Glancy Fine Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

One of the most noteworthy characteristics of traditional Chinese painting, highly regarded throughout the world for its theory, modes of expression and techniques, is the frequent use of shifting perspective within a single painting.  One Chinese painting may simultaneously depict activity within and without a village house, a palace, a temple, as well as on mountains looming in the far distance.  For centuries, the Chinese painter's freedom from the restrictions of time and space has enabled him to express himself unhampered by the limitations imposed by everyday reality. Painter Huang Yi has embraced these traditional Chinese techniques, while blending them seamlessly with contemporary Western theoretical and stylistic approaches to painting.

Huang Yi was born in 1968 in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu Province in southeastern China, a culturally rich repository of Chinese history and art that has been inhabited for over 5,000 years.  Nanjing, China's capital during a total of ten imperial dynasties, including the Ming Dynasty, is home to Nanjing Arts Institute, established in 1921, where Huang earned a degree in 1991 from the institution's Department of Oil Painting.  From 1996 to 1998, Huang pursued research and advanced studies in oil painting at China Central Art College; he went on to serve as a tutor at the Nanjing Arts Institute.

Once called "The Capital of Heaven," Nanjing has been the cultural and educational center of southern China for more than 1700 years.  Huang Yi took advantage of the cultural resources surrounding him there, and his university studies and research have afforded him the opportunity to thoroughly immerse himself in the study of Western art history and theory.  Huang's paintings reflected the duality of his native environment and arts education.

Stylistically, Huang feels he has been most influenced by the work and thought of Fan Kuan (circa 990 - 1030 A.D.), a Chinese landscape master of the Song Dynasty who was listed by Life Magazine in 2000 as 59th of the 100 most important people of the last millennium.  Fan Kuan based his lush, flowing watercolor-and-ink-on-silk-scroll paintings of mountainous scenery on the central Daoist principles of Laozi (580-500 B.C ), i.e. becoming one with the changing forms and eternal laws of nature -- and embracing the belief that nature is not a background for human existence and experience, but rather a whole of which humans are a mere part.  Huang cites the work of Song Dynasty court painter, poet and scholar Mi Youren (1074-1151), who raised the integral "poem-painting" to high art, as another important factor bearing upon his own visual style, together with that of Dong Qichang (1555-1637) of the Ming Dynasty, a painter, critic, collector and scholar whose writings on the history of Chinese painting remain significant to this day.  Huang's imagination has also been piqued by the highly calligraphic and poetic painting of Zhu Da (1626-1705), an artist-poet who became a Buddhist monk, eventually went mad, left his monastery and became an itinerant painter, wandering from place to place creating memorable masterpieces (in 1985, Unesco recognized Zhu Da as one of China's top ten cultural figures). 

The realistic style of America's iconic "painter of the people," Andrew Wyeth, and the pop culture-inspired work of Robert Rauschenberg, which often comments on contemporary society using the very imagery that has helped to produce that society, have both made a lasting mark on Huang's paintings.  These paintings explore the effect of post-modern industrialization on the human spirit, as well as man's unquenchable delight in and reverence for the aesthetics, lyricism and dignity inherent in the details of his workaday environment. 

Huang Yi's Pattern of the Object is a prime example of the fusion of Eastern and Western thought and technique the artist skillfully effects in both his painting style and critical content.  In muted, almost monochromatic tones, Huang presents what seems to be the remains of some uncased electronic device atop a cement pillar, above which mysteriously appears broken light bulbs and diodes, though the view we get of the latter is one the viewer would expect only if positioned above and looking down at these objects.  The electronic detritus is displayed frontally, as if it were some sacred object or offering on a post-modern ancestral altar.  Huang's imagery is Daoist in spirit, uniting simplicity and complexity, clarity and mystery. Pattern of the Object defies our sense of reality, physics and holiness, using Fan Kuan's ancient approach to different points of perspective, both literally and figuratively.  Pattern also harnesses the quality of critiquing societal and cultural mores, as mastered by Rauschenberg, by deftly combining mundane, discarded objects and images in a single work of art.

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