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Land of Growth

Land of Growth
signed and dated ‘Huang Yuxing 2015-2016’ (lower centre)
acrylic on canvas
145 x 230 cm. (57 1/8 x 90 1/2 in.)
Painted in 2015-2016
Private Collection, Asia

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Annie Lee
Annie Lee

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Lot Essay

Since the artist graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2000, Haung Yuxing has developed his craft through multiple series that explore his own emotions and experiences: building upon the early basis of a figurative reality, the artist has subverted ready-made images to elicit the interpretation of a virtual world, followed by his macroscopic perspectives of abstract geometric spaces, featuring a deconstruction of everyday forms rendered in colourful shapes. With no consistent semiotics, Huang does not restrict himself to a monotonous way of signifying, rather, the trajectory of his work mutates at the edge of different dimensions. They are the sediments carried out by a lengthy accumulation of subject matters and artistic advances, where every shift in style responds to the artist’s life history; the sensible changes in his work, not created out of a proclivity for purely conceptual art, are catalysed by real life events. By doing so, Huang Yuxing has deliberately avoided the turn toward absolute Conceptualism that many of his peers had made.

In recent years, the concept of ‘time’ and ‘life’ has become the creative and meditative source for Huang Yuxing. While Huang is pondering on the same questions about life, as those artists, writers and philosophers did a thousand years ago, it is Huang Yuxing’s attempt to re-evaluate such fundamental problems with a renewed and immediate vision; through different passages, Huang desires to find an answer for human existence.

The composition of Land of Growth (Lot 50) is a collage of two coinciding pictorial planes: divided by spatial fields, the seemingly distant architecture resembles of a psychedelic arena, where Huang takes simple geometric forms and weaves them together to render a metaphorical environment. On closer inspection, one sees the portraiture of a skull-like form setting against the background, with eyes glaring as if in fear or wonder, staring out to the world with relentless curiosity. The subjective interplay of space and geometry, melting and floating in a world that is collapsing and disappearing, are rendered in an aura of transparency. In the way of mortises and tenons, the fractions make up an infinite space extending beyond the picture plane. Nevertheless, Huang places an emphasis on the ‘human’ presence; the fragmented ‘man’ is placed in the center and the other ‘life forms’ are to be viewed, ultimately, in the mindset of a subjectified ‘worldview’.

On one hand, Huang is keen to elaborate on the perception of his fictional and fantastical ‘worlds’, one that is enveloped in an abstract suspicion. At the same time, the ‘life forms’ of these worlds are not entirely illegible; capable to ‘see’ in multiple perspectives, they have demonstrated a profound realization of the universe. As in Buddha’s words, “All appearances are illusory; to see the truth that lies beneath perception, is to see the true Tathagata.” All that we perceive through our senses becomes of the projection of individual consciousness; only with the ability to tell the true from the false, could bring to us spiritual awakening. The enlightenment created in such ellipses, is reminiscent of Yayoi Kusama’s installation Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity (Fig. 1): all immersive and enthralling, the illumination proliferated endlessly with the mirage of the spectators’ fragmented self. It might just be that, the invitation to lose oneself in the infinite mirrored rooms, is to offer to us with an unique perspective, through which we could see to the true essence of things.

Subsequently, with his River and Bubble series, Hauang Yuxing has encountered the theory proposed by Heraclitus, that “No man ever steps in the same river twice”, as he parallels the moving and gurgling water with the shape of ‘time’, evident to the cosmic space we are living. All the while, the artist has become less dependent on a singular structuralism and has, as in Land of Growth, welcomed the complete discharge of colours, reconstructing through geometrical markings, the inner experience that allows the preconceived worldview to shatter and dissipate. In this way, time and space seem to congeal in a regenerated dimension, to represent the coexistence of destruction and vitality. Hence, the Land of Growth embodies the artist’s reflection on the infinitude of time and life, alternating between objective realities and subjective perceptions. 'Life forms' dominate the imaginary space of alluring mystery; such nurturing organic shapes, floating amid a tempest of gemstones and meteorites, aim to impart on the existential challenges that ‘life’ presents with itself. In the human experience, it is a journey of an endless cycle that is irreversible. The meaning of Huang's 'life forms' is derived from its simultaneous existence, as a substance that is ever expanding yet also disparaging. For this work could be said to process an Expressionistic style tending to the dreamlike Map (Fig. 2) paintings by Jasper Johns, where the artist subverts the conventions of cartography, and invites the observer to scrutinize its distorted content that is both familiar and uncanny. The freedom of interpretation is given to the attentive viewer; thought-provoking as it is, Huang's painting contains ample room for contemplation and intellectual exchange.

On the other hand, Huang is fascinated by the tension produced by colours, and the reality of contemporary painting, at "where a work originally intended to portray, is subjected to material changes at the hands of shapes and hues, manipulated to the point of absolute perfection." The modification of colours has taken control of the artist, it is in this submissive process, that painting gains for itself a life of its own. In this way, Huang applies low saturated fluorescent colours as the ground, to construct his ideal image through the repetition of adding and erasing layers of paint. Stressing the preservation of his creative process, Huang allows us to glimpse of the vibrant colours, perpendicular structures, and labyrinthine dimensions of quotidian objects and scenes. The traditional concept of ‘subject’ is rejected, as we are reminded by Robert Delaunay's Simultaneous Windows on the City (Fig. 3), Huang has turned to the pictorial surface as a place to constitute reality; with light and its structuring of vision, conjuring the kaleidoscopic effect that was characteristic of spectrum activity.

In today's modern society, our static perceptions are slowly deteriorating by the fragmentary present and the bombards of cultural consumption. As it follows, we will soon be deprived of our grip on reality, and not least among our difficulties, we would lose ourselves to the post-truth phenomenon. Throughout the years of Huang Yuxing’s creative life, as an artist that is critical and agile, he has presented to us with a diverse aesthetic allusion, underlying with a persistent interest in the intrinsic nature of 'life' and of the 'world'.

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