Huang Gesheng, an internationally recognized painter from south China's Guangxi, talked about his work and the history of Chinese painting with an audience at the Library of Congress, Washington, on June 1.
He feels his paintings are popular overseas because of "the beautiful scenery, the unique cultures portrayed and the feelings I have for my hometown which are reflected in the paintings." Huang says it's natural to have great affection for one's home.
Huang comes from Guilin, Guangxi. "It's my life-long aim to portray the countryside scenery and buildings of the Zhuang ethnic group," he said. He grew up in the mountainous region in northern Guangxi.
In 1980, the 30-year-old Huang entered the Guangxi Art School as a postgraduate student to study traditional Chinese painting. After graduation he traveled around the country painting many scenes which included mountains, rivers, cloud formations, bird life….simply things he came across on his travels. In 1985, after countless visits to Lijiang, he completed the 200-meter long painting Hundred Miles of Lijiang.
Towards the end of the 1980s, his contemporary Chinese landscape paintings began to be noticed. Huang went to the US twice when exhibitions of his works were held.
"During my time in the US, I had a house, a car and a comfortable lifestyle," Huang recalled. "But I decided to come home. You've to change your painting style or even your personality and individuality to please the Americans. The roots of my career are in China."
On his return he made further progress with his landscape painting. Huang created a unique style for sketching which involves lengthy observation of scenery and people. This has inspired a generation of landscape painters. This particular group depicts southern scenery and the ordinary lives of local people. They produce works featuring the mountains and rivers of Lijiang using traditional Chinese painting techniques. Their works have vivid regional characteristics and clear artistic aims.
Huang Gesheng's painting
"In order to hold onto the creativity for an extended period, you can't leave your hometown and the people you know for good," Huang said. Over the years he often went to countryside to sketch and stayed with local people.
"My real home is in the countryside, I can reflect on my childhood and find the real me," he said. "I grew up in the mountains. I know that people are thinking about and what they need from life." With such an understanding of a way of life, his works can realistically reflect the living environment of the country people and their thoughts.
"As a native of Zhuang ethnic group, I will use my skills to extol the virtues of Lijiang and introduce my hometown to the world,"he said.
(China.org.cn by Li Xiaohua, June 16, 2006)