‘Virus, The tricks of acrobatics’, 2008, mixed media on paper, 145 x 114 cm
‘Overlapped history’, 2008, mixed media on paper, 114x 167cm
Hankang Huang’s work bears within it the tensions and questions facing modern China, a country torn between a history going back thousands of years, a teeming contemporary culture and aggressive economic development. What is man’s place in a society that is constantly changing? How should social progress be considered?
Suzhou’s traditional beauty is echoed in the meticulous design of Huang’s works, while the artist’s chosen technique is deeply rooted in the tradition of Chinese painting. He shows perfect mastery of the watercolor medium and delights in modernizing it, making use of synthetic pigments that he applies after the initial color wash to lend that first layer an oddly glossy, vibrant aspect. The technique of watercolor, whose principle is of course the dilution of pigment in water, perfectly suits what the artist wishes to express. Indeed, Huang enjoys mixing unexpected subjects to give rise to hybrid images that are at once gentle, poetic and ironic.
In ‘Overlapped History’ the tiger and the panda, which are both wild animals that are native to China, live in two distinct environments and aren’t usually led to meet in their natural surroundings. Huang has nevertheless chosen to show them entwined in an ambiguous pose. Are they resting on top of each other in complete safety or frightened of one another? It remains anbiguous, a suspended moment reflecting China’s current situation as it straddles tradition and modernity.
‘Hyper Model’ also reveals a blend of hybrid elements. The huge crocodile carcass affords barely a glimpse of the young woman and her delicate legs. The thickness and roughness of the animal’s hide contrast with the model’s own silky skin. And despite the weight of the crocodile, the woman is depicted striding forward. Again, Huang is questioning us. Is the animal devouring the young woman or is she arrogantly exhibiting the product of her most recent hunt? Like an allegory, the half-human half-animal figure turns a critical eye to consumer society. To hunt amounts to being hunted. How to strike a balance between these two positions seems to be the question raised by the artist.
Born in Suzhou (China) in 1977, Hankang Huang lives and works in Paris and China.
Until 4 April
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