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Art Critic and Historian Gérard Xuriguera Talks About the Art of Jiannan Huang

Gérard Xuriguera and Jiannan Huang

Gérard Xuriguera is an acclaimed French art critic and historian, born August 1, 1936 in Barcelona, Spain. Xuriguera has published 140 books, including numerous reference books on contemporary art, 2,000 articles, 1,000 prefaces, and over a hundred monographs. He has been a lecturer, organizer of many large exhibitions, president of several biennials, curator for a number of art collections of paintings for museums around the world, and has initiated the development of sculpture parks around the world. Most notably, he was the general commissioner of the Seoul Arts Olympiad in 1988 and commissioner of the Madrid European Capital of Culture in 1992.

During his career, Xuriguera has reviewed and worked with many artists including Pierre Soulages, Joseph Kosuth, Max Ernst , Antonio Saura, Louise Bourgeois, Chu Teh-Chun, Georges Mathieu, Julio LeParc, Lee Ufan, Jesús Rafael Soto, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Sir L., Jacques Villeglé, Denis Oppenheim, Wifredo Lam, Takis, Gérard Schneider, Jean Hélion , Bengt Lindström, Erik Dietman, José Subirà-Puig, Erró, Peter Stämpfli, John Christoforou, Edoardo Puglisi, and others.

Jiannan Huang and Gérard Xuriguera

According to Xuriguera who met with Jiannan Huang in 2015, many artists and painters such as Huang, seek to consciously present the beautiful moments of the world for the viewers. They have the courage to explore this theme and lead us into the secret of the passage of time, because they not only understand the weight of the four seasons, the sullenness of the storm, but also the clarity of the summer sunset and the gloom of the autumn sky. In addition to the presenting a moment in time, they wantonly use their imagination, and inadvertently outline a scene that is difficult for the world to perceive.

Inheriting the traditional techniques that have been tested over time, Huang has been relentlessly capturing the phantom in the color palette through the appearance from the beginning, the most effective way of expressing this phantom. The textures of the veins of the mountains and mines are presented one by one from the dim ground or the water waves bathed in moonlight, thus becoming a reflection of the extension of nature. In fact, few people or houses appear between the unpredictable and rugged ground, but occasionally a few livestock or a few vaguely lost paths. There are often turbulent rivers, with the turbulent layers shown by the white space of light and shadow with a background of layers of mountains. Huang is a master of landscape painting as he often spreads the illusory pattern of loneliness with a sunny or sometimes dark night, with skilled brushstrokes and bold colors that captivate the viewer's attention.

Coming from an ordinary village in Guangdong Province in southern China, Huang has not undergone academic training. At the beginning of his painting career, Huang worked as a stage artist in a theater and was known to be elegant, thoughtful, and down to earth. Just as Europe was in the era of naturalism, he was said to be immersed in his motherland’s nature, and his works embody a simple happiness. Both his oil paintings and traditional Chinese paintings have a natural sublimation. The clouds, rivers, waterfalls, earth, steep mountains, and heavy snow are depicted in many sceneries. The ink is carefully applied, and the silver-white moonlight quietly accompanies the long stream of water and reflects the reflection in the water. The moon and the land complement each other. In addition, through the combination of ink, whether it is a chatting monk or a running figure, at dusk or day and night, the shining of light and the radiation of colors overlap step by step. Here, traditional Chinese art includes realism. It has been said that a civilization that has no landscape paintings is not worth mentioning. Yves Bonafoix wrote, "therefore, Jiannan Huang has deeply understood this truth, because he knows that the Asian soul from nature is inseparable from human beings."

Although his works are presented with the colorful and intense colors popular in Western art, they still make people feel that there is still the mysterious and unpredictable oriental artistic conception and charm flowing in his bones.


1 Comment

Karen Cantrell
Karen Cantrell
Mar 20, 2021


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