The Reassurance and Wisdom of Huang Yuxing’s Paintings

And ne forhtedon ná — ‘Be not afraid’ is a phrase from an Anglo-Saxon poem commemorating the Battle of Maldon, during which the Anglo-Saxon, despite their gallantry, were defeated by the Viking marauders. It was also the inspiration for the great twentieth-century Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges who was not afraid to explore the chaos of disrupted narrative and literary forgery that blurs fact and fiction. And, Huang Yuxing is another kindred spirit who has found his tome of wisdom in the leitmotif: ‘Be not afraid’.

Humans face the unexpected and sometimes inevitable facts of life, often accompanied by apprehension and fear. They can be grim, but humans are resilient creatures with a capacity for adaptation and survival. These can be invaluable lessons in life, and something wondrous may be born of such tribulations. Thus, in his recent works, Yuxing encourages us to look at such happenings with a positive outlook just like his source of inspiration: And ne forthedon ná.

Such wisdom pervades his works. For example, it might suggest that such changes, however foreboding they are, might unexpectedly turn out to give cause for delight. And, the moment I stepped into Galerie Perrotin, I was greeted with a psychedelic eruption of colours and patterns in ‘New Order Hurtling Down The Proletariat’. The exuberant outburst of neon colours somehow had given me an inexplicable sense of exultation even before I read the title of the work.

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New Order Hurtling Down The Proletariat

Indeed, the skull-like forms embedded amongst the rigid geometric crystals represent the impoverished proletariat, and they are being bombarded by changes of all sorts in the forms of colourful beams. The result is a turbulent moment of liberation and an outpour of feelings, and the proletariat, seemingly from the vivid palette of colours, might even enjoy this process. The bottom line is ‘be not afraid’ of these changes.

My favourite from this series is ‘Software Factory’. Ignoring the title for a moment, it feels to me that the work contemplates the passage of human existence as one space of fluid colours dissolving into another geometric space. It looks as though they were passing on our human essences. I particularly like this painting because it gives a sense of continuity. As our corporeal body fades, our spirit remains and we pass it on to the next generation. Here, Yuxing’s wisdom once again prevails.

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Software Factory

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Maternal Body

Beside the inspirational theme, what makes the work striking also shines through the various motifs. The splash of neon colours, the geometric forms, and the skull-like objects act as signifiers. With an adept hand, they are rendered smooth and benign even, free of any macabre associations. Simply look at ‘Maternal Body’ and one realises that the skulls, albeit born of a grim reality, have become quite the contrary. I find these elements most reassuring and they guide us back to the leitmotif — And ne forhtedon ná.

Source: Galerie Perrotin

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