Huang Hong Tao‘s Nameless Hills series was born from his emotional attachment to the rolling hills of the Heilongjiang region where he grew up. There are no grand and famous mountains or rivers in this land, no real mountains to speak of in fact, just hillocks and mounds that mostly do not have the elevation to lay claim to a name.
There is a dreamlike quality to Huang Hong Tao‘s paintings. The Nameless Hills series has been a subject the artist has been painting for close to ten years. It is not a specific hill or location but a spiritually sacred imagery for the artist, all the more poignant because it is unnamed.
Nameless Hills is the subject that ‘birthed‘ him as an artist, and it has nurtured and inspired him, and provided him with serene solitude and certitude through years of angst and growing pains, yearnings and aspirations.
1983 Born in Heilongjiang, Ke Shan County
2008 Joined the China Artists’ Association at the age of 25, becoming one of the youngest ever members of the Association
2009 Graduated from Haerbin Teacher’s University with a Master’s degree in Art. Studied under Lu Yu Shun
2013 Enrolled in the PhD program at Haerbin Normal University
The artist currently resides in Beijing as a professional artist
Not discounting the emotive content of Western art tradition, oil painting has been a more scientific approach to art, beginning with the Renaissance focus on proportion and harmony, the Chiaroscuro effect of lighting and the invention of illusory perspective. The early Impressionists were in fact concerned primarily with portraying light realistically as the eye would perceive it, which was why the Impressionists emphasized on the importance of nature study.
Chinese Ink painting followed a different path and tradition, one that is focused on the inner spiritual world of harmony, serenity and self-cultivation. It is no surprise that thematically, you do not see (at least in classic Chinese ink paintings) rousing pathos of an El Greco or the humanist struggle between man and God for primacy (that started in the Renaissance and became a central tenet of Western art). The raw, visual presence of Western art, best exemplified in paintings like Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa, does not have an equivalency in Chinese ink. Chinese ink (both painting and its sibling calligraphy) grew from expression of an individual’s personal cultivation, learning and wisdom. It represents the individual’s experience, harmony and attunement with nature.
Huang Hong Tao’s technique is undoubtedly contemporary, and does not follow the style of the great masters of the past. As the artist describes, “style changes with time. How people perceive and access art may change but the underpinnings of what makes art resonate does not truly change.” In this regard, Huang Hong Tao’s ‘Nameless Hills’ series inherits the spiritual tradition and content of Chinese ink painting.
The artist uses particularly thick rice paper to better capture layers of ink wash, creating an atmospheric effect of the play of light on the scenery as well as the imagery of mist in the distant hills. On top of this, the artist uses an almost ‘gongbi’ style of meticulous fine brushwork to bring out the trees and other details in his paintings (‘gongbi’ is one of the many styles of traditional Chinese ink painting, which uses very fine brushstrokes to creating realistic paintings, often of birds and flowers. This technique was first popularized in the Tang, Five dynasties and Song period).
2018 Art Stage Singapore – White Space Art Asia
2017 Affordable Art Fair Singapore – White Space Art Asia
2017 Affordable Art Fair Singapore – White Space Art Asia
2017 “Ran Qingqiu” – Young Artist Invitational Exhibition, Beijing
2017 Joint Exhibition of PhD in Chinese Ink at Dong Shu Fang, Shandong Qingzhou
2017 Joint Exhibition, “Belt and Road Initiative” Youth Academy of Shandong Art Academy, Shandong Jinan
2017 Singapore Affordable Art Fair April Edition, Singapore F1 Pit Building, White Space Art Asia
2017 Joint Exhibition of Contemporary Young Artists with PhD, Shandong Qingzhou
2017 “New Youth” – Invitational Exhibition of Outstanding Young Artists’ Works, Beijing
2017 Joint Exhibition of Chinese Ink Artists at Beijing Xubai Gallery
2017 Singapore Contemporary Art Show, White Space Art Asia
2017 Joint Exhibition - Year of Rooster, Beijing
2017 Joint Exhibition - Chinese New Year Celebration at Wudangshan, Wudangshan Geological Museum
2016 Joint Exhibition Vipassana - National Excellent Chinese Painting Collection of the Post-80s Generation, Beijing
2016 Art Kaohsiung, White Space Art Asia
2016 The Ninth 2007-2016 College of New Phalanx, 2016 “Beijing” Annual Nomination Show
2016 Art Taipei, White Space Art Asia
2016 The Language of Migration – 1980-2016 Chinese Ink painting chronicles, Wuxi
2016 “Harmony Between the Heaven and Human” – “Save the Earth” Green Crops Exhibition, New York
2016 Joint Exhibition “The Mandate from Heaven is New”, Beijing
2016 The Power of Attention – Ink Painting Works of Young Artists (3rd), Beijing
2016 Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary Chinese Ink Outdoor Sketch Works from Young Masters
2016 A New Wave of Chinese Ink - Annual Nomination Exhibition of Contemporary Chinese Ink Young Artists
2016 A Seven Quatrain of Post 80s - Contemporary Ink and Water Exhibition, Shanghai
Nanjing Art Fair
2016 Art Republic, Contemporary Young Masters Nomination Exhibition, Beijing
2016 Singapore Affordable Art Fair April Edition, Singapore F1 Pit Building, White Space Art Asia Singapore
2016 Invitational Exhibition of the 2nd Artist Academic Exchange of Chinese Ink Painting, Jinan
2016 8080, Nomination Exhibition of Chinese Young Artists born in the 1980s, Beijing
2015 Singapore Affordable Art Fair November Edition, F1 Pit Building, White Space Art Asia, Singapore
2015 The 6th Beijing International Art Biennale, China, 2015
2015 Joint exhibition INK by White Space Art Asia, Singapore
2015 Joint exhibition Ink Wash on Paper, Beijing
2015 Dream China, Chinese Ink Artists Invitational Exhibition, Rizhao Museum, Shandong Province
2014 Joint exhibition Beauty of Nature, The Youth Academy from China National Academy of Painting, Beijing
2014 “Contemplation”, Huang Hong Tao Solo Exhibition, White Space Art Asia, Singapore
2014 The Times - solo exhibition in Zibo, Shandong
2014 New Prominent of Academy Exhibition, Beijing
2014 Invitational Exhibition of contemporary ink painting artists, Beijing
2014 When Inheriting Meeting Renovating: New Leaf of Art, Invitational Exhibition by CIYAF, Nanjing
2014 The Change, New Ink Painting Invitational Exhibition, The Wu Guanzhong Museum of Art, Wuxi
2014 Chinese Ink Now, China Art Weekly Art Festival, Nantong
2014 The 1st 80s generation Chinese Ink Exhibition, Hangzhou
2013 Panorama – solo exhibition in Qingzhou, Shandong at the Qingzhou Art Gallery
2013 Tomorrow’s Stars – exhibition of up-and-coming young artists, Hangzhou
2013 Chinese Ink Now –contemporary Chinese ink artists exhibition, Hangzhou
2013 Resonance – joint exhibition of 80s generation contemporary Chinese artists organized by White Space Art Asia, Singapore
2013 70.80 – contemporary young artists exhibition, Beijing
2013 A New Page – contemporary art exhibition, Beijing
2013 Fourth Contemporary Chinese Ink Exhibition and Forum, Taipei
2012 Third Gongbi Landscape Exhibition organized by the China Artists’ Association
2012 Haerbin Biennial Chinese Ink Exhibition organized by the China Artists’ Association
2012 Selected Fine Arts exhibition organized by the China National Academy and the China Artist’s Association
2012 Thirst - solo exhibition at Songzhuang, Beijing
2012 Televised interview for an art program
2011 Third Jiangnan Cultural Festival Exhibition organized by the China Artists’ Association. Artwork collected by the Changshu Museum of Fine Arts
2011 National Chinese Ink Art Exhibition organized by the China Artists’ Association
2011 Seventh China Artists’ Association Chinese Ink Exhibition organized by the China Artists’ Association
2010 Invited to participate in the exhibition Successor and Innovator: Post 70s Prominent Chinese Ink Painters
2010 Sixteenth Asian Games Art Exhibition organized by the China Artists’ Association
2010 Received the Outstanding Award at the Eleventh National Art Exhibition (Heilongjiang Province)
2010 Participated in the Third Contemporary Chinese Ink Exhibition and Forum at the Hong Kong Museum of Arts. First 80s generation artist to have participated in two forums.
2008 The Creativity of Youth – exhibition of outstanding students works at the Today Art Museum, Beijing
2008 Heilongjiang Artists’ Association 50th Anniversary Exhibition, awarded Outstanding prize
2008 China Artists Invitational Exhibition, Beijing World Art Museum
2007 Third National Chinese Ink Exhibition organized by the China Artists’ Association. “Nameless Hills No.1” was collected by the National Museum of China (NAMOC)
2007 Exhibited at the Fourteenth 21CIAA International Art Festival in Qingdao
2007 Youngest participant in the Second Contemporary Chinese Ink Forum, national Museum of China (NAMOC)
2007 National Fine Arts Exhibition organized by the China Artists’ Association, awarded the highest Outstanding Achievement prize
2006 Fourth National Youth Chinese Ink Exhibition organized by the National Museum of China (NAMOC), awarded Silver Prize
2006 China-Korea Cultural Exchange Exhibition, Haerbin
2006 Third Heilongjiang Watercolour Exhibition, awarded Outstanding Achievement prize
2005 Seventh National Watercolour Exhibition held by the China Artists’ Association
2005 Heilongjiang Museum of Fine Arts Exhibition, awarded Silver Prize
2005 Heilongjiang Nature Study Exhibition
2005 First Heilongjiang Chinese Inks Landscape Exhibition, awarded Outstanding Achievement prize
Huang Hong Tao’s Nameless Hills series was born from his emotional attachment to the rolling hills of the Heilongjiang region where he grew up. In this region, one does not find grand and famous mountains and rivers. In fact, there are no real mountains to speak of, just hillocks and mounds that do not possess the elevation to lay claim to a name.
The artist grew up in a poor rural farming village, and his journey to become an artist was not an easy one. This makes the artist’s attachment to this land is all the more understandable.
In keeping with a tradition of Chinese ink painting, Huang Hong Tao’s paintings seem to take in the scenery from an elevated point; in reality there is no point on the ground where the artist could possibly take in the entire scene. The trees are not in direct proportion to the hills. This is in contrast to classic Western traditions where, if an artist stood at the base of a hill, he could not possibly see the hills beyond. The concepts of perspective would have constrained the classic oil painter from portraying the hills beyond. To the Chinese scholar and artist, this does not pose a problem as he has already travelled to and can see with his mind’s eye the hills beyond. In Chinese ink painting, this is ‘seeing the details from a larger perspective’.
There is a dreamlike quality to Huang Hong Tao’s paintings. The Nameless Hills series has been a subject for close to ten years. It is not a specific hill or location but a spiritually sacred imagery for the artist, all the more poignant because it is ‘unnamed’.
The Nameless Hills series is the subject that ‘birthed’ him as an artist, and it has nurtured and inspired him, and provided him with serene solitude and certitude through years of angst and growing pains, yearnings and aspirations. In this land, all things are a possibility.
In many of his paintings, Huang Hong Tao has included a figure that appears to be either a person sitting in meditation or a Buddhist statue. The figure – totally out of proportion to the hills and trees - is part of the dreamy, serene landscape and has its roots in a small, earlier series of meditative paintings he executed.
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Art Republik takes a closer look into the inner workings of Huang Hong Tao and his latest series, Unnamed Hills.
Asia Contemporary Show, Hong Kong 2014 showcases Huang Hong Tao in its Press Release.