Huang Yan was born in 1966, in Jilin Province, where he still lives and works. His artistic trajectory is interesting. During the 1990’s he primarily followed conceptual approaches and conducted mail art projects. For his thirtieth birthday he published a series of postcards illustrating his own work (including a photograph of his own faked suicide) and posted them to addresses throughout the country. He also handed out invitations for a big solo exhibition that existed only in his imagination.
His biggest contribution to experimental Chinese contemporary art, however, is his combination of classical landscape painting and body art. Huang Yan sees himself as a landscape painter. “Landscape is a way for me to reason things out; landscape is proof that I can use objects to unburden my feelings; landscape is a place where my soul is at peace; landscape is an abode in which my mortal body can reside; landscape is a release for my Buddhist ideas. I am a man who paints landscapes on the body. In the midst of a big city teeming with human life, in the humble room where I lead a secluded life, I am not a swordsman; I am not a gambler, still less am I a blind person. There are times when, like flowers fallen into a stream, I forget both the material world and myself, and I just paint landscapes; I just paint on the body with wild strokes and haphazard smears. This is enough, it’s a state of mind that I get into; I believe in intuition; I believe in landscape, I while away the time amid these landscapes…”
Huang Yan, Brother and Sister, 2006, C-Print, 120 cm x 150 cm,