Yanyan Huang: Time Feast
Through October 7, 2022
By HU LINGYUAN, October 2022
On Yanyan Huang’s canvases, classical and romantic colors come to life, evoking a pleasant atmosphere in a compact contemporary society. This young abstract artist uses acrylic, ink, and gouache to express herself in a way that is brimming with energy and lightness in keeping with her age, while showing rich cultural influences.
Born in China and educated in the United States, Huang has lived in many different countries, so the freedom in her brushwork is very strong; but it also contains a fair amount of randomness that demonstrates a kind of painting performance. Interesting, sophisticated and attractive, it can generate decorative meanings, as well as go hand in hand with commerce, which might be considered an advantage for young artists currently working in a diverse art market. Huang’s abstraction, however, is also inextricably linked to her thoughts on memory, time and experience.
The brushstrokes in Huang’s paintings are calligraphic, with an overall sense of elegance and panache. It is this control of strength that balances the rhythm and space in the picture. Along with the white space of the canvas, it creates a sense of breathing and hazy imagery. And the colors she employs have a rococo lightness and softness to them that is depicted on the canvas like silk, giving the images a harmonious and consistent effect that delights the viewing experience (she also creates related dress designs and often wears dresses with her paintings on them at her opening receptions).
In the exhibition “Yanyan Huang: Time Feast” at LATITUDE Gallery in New York, a young gallery located in Chinatown that supports Asian artists, she offers a series of paintings that are “visually disruptive.” Layers of light brushstrokes overlaid with ink marks or smudges, for instance, break the graceful and romantic atmosphere of color and add a sense of wild texture; this visual change can be seen by comparing Time Feast #04 and Cloud Continuum. Some thin lines are also interspersed among the large strokes of red, yellow, blue and green. All of these treatments enrich the picture’s layering.
What should not be overlooked is that, despite the fact that Huang’s images are abstract, the viewers can still discern subtle figurative features from the independent brushstrokes. In other words, her brushstrokes conjure up various aspects of things, such as plant forms or different dancers in motion. Through color, they convey different states or movements in time and space. The painting on paper Time Feast #5 reflects this aspect and has a unique feminine refinement. A few colored strokes crossed by ink lines also reveal the air of Willem de Kooning’s late lyrical works.
Nebula, which hangs on the white wall facing the gallery’s entrance, has a slightly different visual expression than the other large-scale works. The brushstrokes are almost blurred, allowing the colors to work alone, permeate and finally blend with one another. It might remind one of the splashing-color (pocai) techniques used in Chinese ink and wash works. Large areas of yellow dominate the image, full and fluid, with a soothing rhythm balanced by a few spontaneous, sharp color strokes on the left. Is this work yet another stage of expression in her painting creation? Regardless, given her involvement in various forms of media, this expression is both positive and highly desirable. WM
Hu Lingyuan is an art writer and independent curator living in Queens. She is also the co-founder and executive editor of Art SuoDeng Magazine.view all articles from this author