“The river has always been my favorite theme; it represents my definition of the shape of time.”
- Huang Yuxing
Born in Beijing in 1975, Huang Yuxing graduated from Central Academy of Fine Arts’ Department of Mural Painting in 2000. With a preference for using nature as his creative subject, Huang specializes in using colours to create dynamic visual impacts. His artistic style is straightforward and unsuperfluous, projecting a strong sense of narrative and spirits of realism. The series he created in 2010, such as Light and Habitat, are composed mostly with black backgrounds, with the eye guided by a source of light created with light and dark contrasts. Political metaphors or youthful rebellions were also conveyed in his images. In the recent five years, rivers, trees, bubbles, and meteorites have become subjects of Huang’s paintings. As his personal subjectivity becomes more mature and his cogitation gradually gains composure, he has been able to embrace a true liberation with colours, with perceptual documentations created through the use of vibrant and neon hues.
River is a saturated dreamland constructed by the concept of time. If the way rivers flow inflicts melancholia, the vibrancy and speckles of colours bestowed by light also give this melancholic sentiment a touch of amusement. In Huang’s visual rhetoric, the river moves with swirling motions in circles, layers, and ribbon-like shapes, which are segments of memories that can be stored and reviewed at any given time. Vivaciously colourful, rivers also reflect their surrounding sceneries and the sky; they also project deep, internal emotional changes. A realistic spatial depth is created with small circles in the shade of dark blue, with overlapping thinly painted pastel purple and crimson forming thick coatings of pigments. The pure and seldom mixed colours and the boundlessly expanding ripples give the image a dynamic appeal, but the overall image is, nevertheless, peaceful and serene. This sense of serenity comes from a rational display of perceptual representation but is also from the visual horizon that divides the painting into two halves.
Visual horizon is an important compositional element used for creating linear perspective through converging lines, and the two areas divided by a visual horizon are often depicted as visible and invisible realms in European painting tradition. The horizon in River horizontally cuts the image in half, resulting in a sense of balance and stability. The trees at the top of the line seem to dwell in a far distant place. Without tangible form, their downward flowing leaves and branches appear rather transparent. Upon closer inspection, a blurry, undefined realm seems to be concealed behind these trees. Within this sphere, the visual horizon is transformed from a vanishing point into a mechanism that unfolds the three spaces in the foreground, top, and background, suggesting the subliminal, spiritual presence of the artist at different levels.
The river represents time and life; it flows and is eternal, allowing for the coexistence of destruction and vitality. Hawking’s observation has proven that “the moving and migrating of water molecules are unable to evident the irreversibility of time, they never change nor disappear”, and “rivers” transformed from time and life have become vessels of Huang’s perceptual expressions. Juxtaposing deep and thin, thick and shallow, form and image, Huang has successfully captured the elusive and intangible time. A dramatic dynamism is achieved with psychological and visual layers, touching upon important aspects dealt with in aesthetic expressions, which makes the theme of this artwork unique and profound. The flowing river is transformed by the artist into a shifting yet eternal form, with a mesmerizing glow on the painting that seems to sprawl endlessly.