Jun 29 - Aug 04, 2019

Press Release

Curator Article

Huang Zhiyang's life as an artist has been a mix of psychedelic and mysterious experiences. 

Huang attended Chinese Culture University in Taipei from 1985 to 1989. While in university, he participated in activities organized by the Modern Ink Wash Painting Society, an organization started by Taiwanese artist Liu Guosong. After graduating, Huang spent two years in the army before returning to art. In 1991, he created ‘Maternity House for XiaoXiao,’ which won the 2nd Taipei Biennale Award. He travelled abroad for the first time in 1991 when he was invited to take part in an exhibition in Australia. He won another prize for his work in 1993 and used the money he earned to visited mainland China for the first time.

In 1995, he was the first Taiwanese artist to be included in the La Biennale di Venezia-centennial with his exhibition ‘Identity and Difference.’ During his stay in Europe, he saw how traditional and modern art could work in unison. After Huang return to Taipei, he was invited to hold a solo exhibition at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany in 1996. Later that year, Huang moved to the United States in on an Asian Cultural Council Fellowship, where he gained notoriety with his work ‘Tracing Taiwan,’ the first work from a visiting artist exhibited at the Drawing Center. In 1998, his work was included in ‘Inside out,’ an exhibition of Chinese Contemporary Art across the United States curated by Gao Minglu. 

After making his debut in the New York contemporary art scene, he became the only Taiwanese artist exhibited in the Ethan Cohen Gallery. After the 9/11 attack in New York City in 2001, he felt that policies towards foreigners would become more strict. He returned to Tawian in 2002.  

After four years in Taiwan, Huang moved to Beijing in 2006. He hadn’t visited the city in ten years and was struck by how much had changed. He felt suffocated by the realization that even though his experiences in Europe and the United States helped him grow as an artist, they hadn’t evoked the same intuitive feelings of purpose he felt upon returning to Beijing. 

Beijing became a place where he could develop his art and mixed artistic existence in tandem. He still lives in Beijing today. 

By the time he moved to Beijing, life and art for Huang had acquired mixed meanings. He’d climbed the ladder in his career quickly – winning international awards soon after he graduated from university. As a young artist, Huang felt proud of his work and the notoriety he received from winning prizes at competitions like La Biennale di Venezia-centennial. But Huang could not ignore the inner force from inside that called him back to where his life started. His first piece of work, ‘Maternity House for XiaoXiao,’ relates to the stubbornness and toughness of his childhood experience. 

In his work, Huang shows a sensitive and extraordinary discernment towards life; his perceptions grow wildly and his vision touches everything around him. When he picks up the pen, vines, branches, birds, and characters are all turned into the traces of life. They are shaped without any restraint for they are self-explanatory. His works express primitivism and the present, loneliness, conflicts in the silence, and a longing for tranquility. 

They do not need to engage in debates about eastern and western art, nor should they be cited to illustrate differences between them. Their impact is in their individual vitality, and they will surely excite the sensitive soul to tears. 

Huang Zhiyang is highly regarded in the art world for the quality of his work, and the free soul of his paintings. He paints what he sees and how he feels, without trying to embody Chinese or Western styles. Huang learned from his experiences abroad that all perceptions of art can be mixed. The most organic states of life are mixed and the diversity of nature is not uniform. All states of life are accompanied by heterogeneities. These dissimilarities maximize one’s perception of the world.

These artistic traits can be summarized as ‘mixed living,’ which Huang most commonly expresses in Chinese and Western styles. Mixed-living is the result of Huang’s insight on Chinese and Western art. He started studying traditional art but also but also produced contemporary works. He participated in the modern ink wash movement in Taiwan -- extracting symbolic traces from life to form a unique artistic language. 

Huang’s new work reflects the characteristics of Chinese and Western mixed style: eastern flow works freely within modern compositions. Eastern and western are not divergent theories in his paintings; they learn from each other with each brushstroke. A dot or line in ink are traces of action and they reflect more than a simple static condition. The mixed-style of art is also reflective of the artist’s state of mind, his freedom of soul, and his experience of life. It reveals his confrontation with bitterness.

Huang has lived in Beijing for 14 years – longer than he spent in Europe or the United States. The air of Beijing has entered deeply into his skin. 

This same Beijing air is breeding an art revolution in our corner of the world. In Huang Zhiyang, we have a pair of mixed-living eyes to help us to see, to know and understand the revolution happening in contemporary art. 

At Chicheng for a short visit, 22nd June 2019 



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