For over a millennium, Chinese artists have been using ink to express the beauty of flowers and birds. Artist Huang Yue has carried that tradition on, but uses a different medium – oil.
Flower and bird ink painting, a traditional art form that’s unique to China, originated during the Tang Dynasty (618-907.) Since then, Chinese artists have expressed their emotions with gradations of mostly monochromatic strokes in ink, with scarce touches of color to accentuate. The manifestation differs greatly from those of Western oil paintings, where abundant colors and textures are used to create depth and abstractness.
Huang Yue’s oil paintings of flowers and birds exists somewhere between the two. “My paintings are neither the traditional ink paintings of flowers and birds nor paintings of that under natural light in the West. It’s somewhere in between. It’s completely new, and innovation is the key for me.”
More often than not, artists paint not just to capture the beauty of what they see, but use shapes and contours as metaphors to express their inner feelings and views of the world. So a flower, through an artist’s eyes, is not just a flower. It can be the symbol of femininity, peace, optimism and beauty. Every stroke an artists paints is an expression of culture. When the message that lies behind is too deeply embedded in cultural traditions, audiences from other parts of the world may have difficulties understanding it.
“When we export our art to the world, these metamorphic artistic conceptions are sometimes not understood,” Huang said. “Oil paintings are more easily accepted by the West. Some in the west are puzzled by the traditional Chinese flower and bird paintings. They don’t understand the complex message behind its visual simplicity. My works, however, with its rich usage of colors, are better taken and understood.”
And they really are. Huang started fusing Chinese and Western styles of painting in 2000. As of today, nearly 20 of his pieces are a part of the Rockefellar family collection, a family known for their love of beautiful art. Steven C. Rockefeller Jr. and Kimberly K. Rockefeller both expressed their fondness for Huang’s work in the preface of his latest publication, Huang Yue Flower and Bird Oil Painting (4th).
“Steven Rockefeller said he has never seen anything like my works. This is also the opinion of many who have appreciated my works in the US and the UK.”
Huang, who participated in the Royal Asscher-Beijing Sparkle Roll Luxury Brands Fall Culture Expo 2013, is also tapping into the luxury market. He has already started making scarves inspired by his paintings. Soon, there will be ready-to-wear items, evening gowns and porcelain.
“Luxury to me means beautiful, unique and rare things. Most of them cannot be recreated. They may be expensive, but the price is not what defines luxury,” he said.
by Xiao Xiao firstname.lastname@example.org
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