Jan. 5, 2023
Year of the Rabbit
On January 5, 2023, China Post released two stamps in a variety of formats, some of which include additional designs, to mark the Lunar New Year of the Rabbit. The main stamps were designed by 99-year old artist Huang Yongyu.
Huang Yongyu is a contemporary Chinese artist known for both his prints and paintings. Huang’s ink works are often scenes of wildlife, foliage, or human figures. Born in 1924 in Fenghuang, China, he never attended a regular school, but instead studied literature and art on his own. The artist was mainly dedicated to woodblock printing until the 1960s, he began producing ink-wash paintings. During the Cultural Revolution in the mid-1960s, Huang, like other artists was persecuted by the Mao Zedong’s regime. His well-known Owl paintings — which portray owls with one eye shut was a meant as a symbol of government officials turning a blind eye to injustices — landed him in a labor camp for three and half years. More recently, the artist has broadened his practice to include sculpture. Huang currently lives and works in Beijing, China. Today, his works are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.
His carefree outlook and childlike innocence influence his work, which is full of life and vigor. “Get up and move on. Don’t bemoan that place” is Huang’s philosophy about retaining his innocence in both his life and works.
“Some people remember that pit all their life and do not walk further, always scolding. People should get up quickly and move on,” Huang said. “To judge whether one person is interesting, we can see how he treats himself or whether he can tell his own jokes.”
Having held art exhibitions at the age of 80 and 90, Huang’s latest ambition is to hold a new exhibition when he turns 100. “I have worked in art for decades. The only wisdom I gained is not to flaunt one’s seniority,” the self-taught veteran artist said. “God bless if I can live past 100 years old. When the time comes, I will hold an exhibit of my latest pieces.” Two years in the making, the preparations for his centennial exhibition are underway. Scheduled on the ninth day of the seventh month in the Chinese lunar calendar in 2024, the upcoming exhibition is described by Huang Yongyu with one word – “good.”
“It is good because it contains deep thoughts, and I think I can draw better than before,” Huang explained.
His paintings are “about two things. One is painting with care. The other one is to express ideas.” His goal is always to ” draw carefully, work hard, even if it is not good,” he said, adding, “I’m not saying that I have to realize an ideal through my painting, not that at all.”
“Sincerity is always more important than technique; that’s why birds always sing better than humans,” he wrote in an article once.
Huang Yongyu was the painter of the original drawing of the world-famous Red Monkey stamp issued on February 15, 1980 (Scott #1586).
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