Exhibition Beijing

Man, Creature, Wandering Immortal
2019.04.20 (sat) - 05.18 (sat)

On April 20, 2019, Tokyo Gallery will see the opening of Huang Liyan’s solo exhibition entitled Man, Creature, Wandering Immortal.

Huang Liyan graduated in 2007 with a Master’s degree from the Oil Painting Department of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. He now lives and works in Beijing and Guangzhou. This solo exhibition will showcase close to 20 of the artist’s paintings completed over the last few years.
Huang Liyan admits to lacking a fixed plan for his painting practice. He paints as he goes, brushing aside the professional attitude of mapping out his trajectory beforehand, which is customary for contemporary artists. His works show depictions of figures which appear blurry and fraught with phantom-like qualities. He uses an absurd, nonchalant approach, sidestepping the contemporary and keeping abreast of the classical, oftentimes displaying the ludicrousness that comes with being an artist. Nowadays, it’s tough to get to the bottom of an artist on the basis of their oeuvre alone, given the multitude of forms and channels with which their creative clout and sensibilities can be expressed. In order to comprehend and grasp the works of Huang Liyan, we must also take into account his Wechat posts, video snippets and conversations drenched in his native Leizhou accent.

The topic of animals and creatures rarely gets touched upon in artistic creation, whether to bypass some “well-defined” risk, or stemming from natural indifference. In his works, Huang Liyan depicts the relational behavior and lust-driven interactions between humans and beasts. The artist sprinkles a little salt in the above-described weak spot, which randomly enough turns out to be wet salt from the South China Sea. In Chinese, the idiomatic saying “worse than a beast” is used to describe a person’s reprehensible conduct, but in Huang Liyan works’s no differences or distinctions between humans and beasts are made apparent. They (be they male, female or genderless) cling together and behave sadistically in their hedonistic pursuit or self-inflicted suffering. When painted by Huang Liyan’s brush, even the loftiest of thoughts are exposed for what they are, once they materialize on an instinctive level. By depicting creatures and their behavior with tongue-in-cheek wit, the artist playfully tantalizes the demons and monsters which inhabit the land of the living.

Huang Liyan’s works aren’t bound by any obvious connection or chronological continuity, nor are the limited, standalone narratives of each painting deliberately painted to completion. The latter is something they have in common – both in form and essence – with the images and writings found on his Wechat. The artist genuinely goes about creating these fragmented narratives, and in doing so he catapults us into the distant future, making us feel as if we’re reading a mythical tale set in the Six Dynasties.

This exhibition will be on show through May 18, 2019. We greatly look forward to your attendance.