Huang Yin

The Images of Private History

- On Huang Yin's works


Only history makes, in an absolute manner, individuals caught in it no where to hide. Meanwhile, it is also integrated into the specific forms of norms, culture, religion and politics and drifts randomly along the river of time. Both contemporary history and traditional history are always like this. Through horizontal planes and vertical lines, it connects individuals living at specific times into individuals, one after another, which possess contemporary hallmarks and explicitly (or implicitly) shows traditional signs

There have always only been social persons rather than independent individuals in the absolute sense. This is what I want to emphasize. All the elements that constitute personal reality firstly exist in the specific context of their environment where they live. While depicting history, Artistic images as the visual reading text of history also construct or deconstruct the set viewpoints from which some people see history. This is both the instinct and the duty of artists. Those metaphysical reading texts created by images and their specific depicted objects will exist independent of the entity-transcending historical context. In a certain sense, it demonstrates the values and power of art


Before discussing the works of artist Huang Yin, it is necessary to point out that the key to grasp her works lies in an understanding and extraction of China's historical cross-sections. The era as the hidden cross section of the works refers to falls in the present (1978 to the present). But, the years which the explicit cross section of her works was the late decades of Mao's life (1950s-1976). This is the newest to China, an era when only collectives but not individuals existed. People crazily worshiped their idol-Mao, who guided everything of their society. People genuinely believed that Mao could lead them to mach towards a new world

In Huang Yin's works, the most interesting aspect of the explicit images of the Mao Culture was actually the disappearance of Mao's own image. The artist recalls that history not through Mao but some specific scenes (props) that represented that era-red banners, slogans, large-scale production campaigns, large-scale iron & steel making drive, model operas and so on. Given that the artist herself cannot possible experience the real scenes which her works depict (the artist was born in the 1970s, while the Great Leap Forward happened during the 1958-1960 period), we can assume that the part of contents is history (memory) which the artist has extracted and generalized. Of course, there is another evidence to attest to this. In the artistic images which the artist has created (mainly referring to the Fairy Land Series), all the information which carries the traces of the artist's personal life has been excluded (the images referred to here mainly mean the specific scenes that constitute the paintings, such as the Great Leap Forward. The image of the little boy is not taken into account. It will be specially discussed below). What is left is the typical scene of that history in public memory

The purpose of separating the true background of the artist from the image scenes which her works depict is to stress the objectivity of the scenarios of the works (of course, such "objectivity" is also filtered reality when compared with the real world. It is dramatic and stylish). This also implies that the historical background referred to is directly replaced by the linguistic background of the artistic works. The linguistic background can be direct words or metaphor. It provides a reference context to reading the works and a contextual background which metaphors can shift to


Among the literary works with children as the subject, The Adventures of Pinocchio created by Italian author Carlo Collodi in 1880 and The Lord of Flies written by British author Willam Golding in 1983 are the classics. These are literary works which unfold from a cut-in point of human "evil". In a form of fable and through Pinocho's misfortunes, The Adventures of Pinocchio educates people to earnestly abide by social norms (whenever Pinocho tells a lie, he will be punished-to be given long noses. Eventually, he conducts in accordance with the social norms and gets his reward-to become a normal person). In The Lord of Flies, the behavior of those children falling on a desert island is frightening. It goes beyond what the public can endure and the bottom line of basic human understanding. 100 years ago, people talked about, through a fable, the need to be a good citizen in line with social norms. 100 years later, people cast wide doubt over human goodness or evil through their works. It is worth exploring the idea changes which have been brought about in-between

When deciphering the works of Huang Yin, people are usually very prone to fall into the trap of symbolism or realism. This is lazy deciphering. It does have its logical and rational side, as seen in the simple work-symbol and image-reality relationships. But, such a segmented view may precisely cause one-sided reading and negates the existence and presence of the author herself. To me, how to see the images of children in Huang Yin's works will be the key to deciphering the author and her works

The image of children which appear in Huang Yin's works is an image of a little boy who wears blue trousers, a white shirt and a red scarf (this is the most typical image of pupils in the Mao era). Though a little girl may also appear occasionally, it is more of a surrogate of the artist herself. The little boy, the main subject of the personal images of all her works, appears in two specific physical characteristics: one is the image of the little boy with a red scarf mentioned above, while the other is a little boy who has the same form as the first one, but only with the difference of having long Pinocchio noses

All little boys with Pinocchio noses appear in the scenes relating to the images of Mao: the Great Leap Forward, large-scale production campaigns, large-scale iron & steel making drive... This implies one thing - lies are present. People who know that history about Mao know the reasons and background of the lies. What is worth noting is that the main subject generating lies has changed from the self (Pinocchio) to others (the external society). This clearly stresses a kind of distorted and reversed (text) fact. Meanwhile, it also reinforces and accentuates that the special character of fable-like depiction. The image tensions caused by distortion both present a narrative alienation and actually self-deconstruct the grand narratives that constitute the scenes and reality

In real life, little boys with a red scarf appeared from the 1050s to the early 1980s. The period includes a time which the artist has personally gone through. From these serial works, one can see the strong personal traces and flavor which the artist. Part of the works is related to school life: "The State of Learning", "Commendation", "Listening to Radio and "Learning Partner". Others are related to the personal experiences of the artist: "A Meeting Fan", "A Discussion About Andy Wharhol" and "Salute to Jeff Koons". There is also "Night Feast", which implies at the life of the pseudo-bourgeoisie in society today. It can be judged that in these works, the image of the little boy more appears as true me. What the artist wants to stress is direct words but not metaphor. Due to the uniform characteristics of the subject images (the little boys have an identical image), The Fairy Land Series and the works of this part serve as mutual text - the consequence of image shift is a shift in context. This naturally links viewers of these works with the contextual background of the Fairy Land Series. This brings about a question: a potential topic of "the link between ‘I" (in childhood) growing up in the Mao era and the present I (adult I)". I think that this is the most tense text structure of Huang Yin's works


Perhaps, we now can present a relatively clear clue about the works of the artist. First, these works are a critical expression, through fable/metaphor, of the social context most chrematistic of the era when the artist was born (i.e. the Mao Culture). They are conceptual, negative and stylish. The way of their expression is in combination with real and typical social scenarios, together with an image of children carrying a negative critical significance. Second, the artist has extracted her real life experiences to directly speak out her view of the contemporary, through unified leading images (little boys) typical of the Mao era. Of course, this is an incomplete undertaking. In the words of the artist herself: "I want to build an Imperial Palace. But, only two houses have been repaired". For the current works, the artist focuses her discussions on the context relating to education and ideals. On the Road to Ideals, The Dream Journey and Listening to Radio are all main works of this stage. The Weight of Giant and Praises which carry doubt and reflections with them and How to Get Out which has a sense of contemporary life scenes have all started an expression of new topics. This is worth noting

Sorting out the veins of artistic works is to clear up thoughts. To me, the starting point of Huang Yin's works lies in such a contradictory situation: a child which has grown up under the red banner has her deep discomfort and incompatible personal experiences in the face of modern society. In the piecemeal self anatomy, the artist attempts to tell these bewilderments and sorrows to herself through image with a public memory flavor. These belong to herself and private. It is precisely with this that the painting language which Huang Yin creates through her works is definitely different from those works with a clear political agenda. Moreover, it distinguishes the author from those popular image producers who play up and misappropriate and sell Cultural Revolution resources. Here, we see no radical criticism, historical satire or cheap misappropriation of images. What we can only see is the helplessness and the quiet struggle when an individual faces history. I personally would rather call it a sad image history of an individual, i.e. a private history. This is history in writing. This historical text of image narration through the private eye will carry special significance due to its personalized features. It will be no surprising at all if more modern contents appear in the future works of the artist, because this is both determined by external objects and an inevitable choice of self-sorting by the artist herself




Born in Chengdu, Sichuan, China


Graduated from the Oil Department of Sichuan Fune Arts Academy, Chongqing, China

Currently living in Beijing, China

Selected Solo Exhibitions


Chorus, Robinsons Art Gallery, Belgium


Huang Yin Works Exhibition, Galerie Schortgen, Luxembourg

Huang Yin Works Exhibition, Robinsons Art Gallery, Belgium

Huang Yin Works Exhibition, Seven Seventy Gallery, Paris, France


Private History•Works of Huang Ying Solo Show, Duolun Art Museum, Shanghai, China


Kindom of Fairy Tale•Huang Ying Solo Show, Robinson Art Gallery, Belgium


Who&Who, Chongqing, China

Selected Group Exhibitions


Asia Contemporary Art Show Hong Kong 2015, Hong Kong


Aff Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Echo-60 Years of Chongqing Fine Arts, Chongqing Art Museum, Chongqing


Debut, 3 City Halls' Collection Exhibition of Manningham, Maroondah, Whitehorse, Manningham Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

Self-generated, 1992-2012 Experiment and Practice of Sichuan Fine Arts Academy Oil Department, Suzhou Art Museum, Suzhou, China

Multiple Clusters-China International Youth Arts Week-Contemporary Youth Art Exhibition, Beijing, China


Robinsons Art Gallery, Knokke, Belgium

China International Gallery Exposition, Beijing, China


SH Contemporary Art Fair 2011, by Soemo Fine Arts, Beijing, China

Her Vision, Soemo Fine Arts, Beijing, China

Female Art, Imagine Gallery, Beijing, China


Beyond The Broken Skin, Soemo Fine Arts, Beijing, China

Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts 70th Anniversary Exhibition, Sichuan Science and Technology Museum, Chengdu, China

Dazzled and Soul Lost•New Age Animation Aesthetics Biennial Exhibition, Guangzhou Art Museum, Guangzhou, China

Figuratives Research and Pictures Consumption, Century Art Museum, Beijing, China

Chic Art Fair, Paris, France

Lineart, Gent, Belgium

Galerie 138, Honfleur, France

Art Paris, Paris, France

Robinson Art Gallery, Knokke Zoute, Belgium


Pictures of History•Contemporary Art Exhibition, Shenzhen Art Museum, Shengzhen, China

Chemical Changes•Illusion and Reality, Cartoon and Comics Biennial, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China

Historical Image•Chinese Contemporary Art Invited Exhibition, the Art Museum of Shenzhen, China the Art Museum of Hubei, China

Lineart, Gent, Belgium

Art Paris, Paris, France

Open Art Fair, Utrecht, Netherlands

Galerie Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands

Gallery LL, Laren, Netherlands

Robinsons Art Gallery, New York City, USA


Chinese Contemporary Exhibition, Willem Kerseboom&Terborg, Holland

Art Amsterdam 2008 Artfair, Willem Kerseboom Gallery, Amsterdam, Holland

Individual Colour 5+1, Contemporary Art Exhibition, First Sound Gallery, 798, Beijing, China

Chinese Scene•contemporary art, Beijing, China

Origin, Moon River Sculptures Festival, Moon River Contemporary Art Museum, Beijing, China

Group Show of Chinese Contemporary Art, Robinsons Art Gallery, Belgium


1976 to 2006 From Countryside Modern to Ukrainian-Sichuan Artists, Boyi Gallery, Beijing, China


No-Extreme•Contemporary Art Exhibition, Art 8 Space, Beijing, China

Living in Beijing•An Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Art 8 Space, Beijing, China


Simplified Characters•Hong Kong-An Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Hong Kong


Films、Pictures and Paintings of China, Seasons Gallery, Beijing, China


Media City•Contemporary Art Exhibition, HongKong Art Commune, HongKong, China

Listening to Women Telling Stories About Men, Chongqing, China

Youth is Power•Contemporary Art Exhibition, Shanghai Spring Art Salon, Shanghai, China

Hermaphroditism•Contemporary Art Exhibition, 798, Beijing, China

99 Small Works, Tokyo Gallery, Beijing, China

Live Flesh An Exhibition of Contemporary Art, 798 Art District, Beijing, China


Floating Dream, HongKong Art Commune, HongKong, China

Long March•Speak With Judy·Chicago At Luguhu Lake, Yunnan Art College, Yunnan, China

The Long March•A Dialogue With Judy Chicago by Lugu Lake, Lugu Lake, Yunnan, China

The Long March•A Dialogue With Judy Chicago by Lugu Lake, Yunnan Art Academy, Yunnan, China

New Photography Exhibition•The Second Pingyao International Photography Festival, Pingyao, China


Happy Garden Art Exhibition, Donglang Gallery, Shanghai, China


The 9th National Fine Art Exhibition, China Art Museum, Beijing, China


Getting Into New Century•Chinese Youth Oil Exhibition, China Art Museum, Beijing, China