Thursday, June 29, 2006 to Saturday, July 29, 2006

    • Thursday, June 29, 2006
    As a recent immigrant to Canada from China, after having been discouraged from pursuing a career as an artisan, Jingyuan Huang’s artistic practice is guided by an interest in exploring notions of identity through the use of historical imagery. Her work highlights the significance of history in shaping identity and in informing the negotiations we make with others. Through the use of rice paper and raw canvas, Huang embarks on a creative process that incorporates both her previous teachings in calligraphy and her most recently developed skills in painting. Huang’s work focuses on the imagery of the Terracotta Warriors, which were found in the giant tomb of Qin Shi Huang Di. These warriors were among the most remarkable discoveries of the late 20th Century. Numbered in seven thousands, the life-sized clay warriors surrounded the First Emperor of China’s final resting place in full military formation. The findings on this site provide a microcosm of his empire and legacy, attesting to his belief in remaining powerful even in the after life through the protection of the warriors. In contemporary China, these warriors have become a strong unified national cultural icon reflecting the expansive development and growth of the country. In Anachronism, the warriors occupy a predominant place in Huang’s paintings. Her contemporary approach in rendering these images provides a connection to history and legacy, and expands our understanding and connection. The heads of the warriors are represented with small bodies and hands on the canvas in isolated narratives, defined in multiple positions contrasting against light backgrounds. This mode of representation is key to Huang’s work to express uncertainties and harmony. In contrast to the popular lifelike renderings of the warriors, Huang presents them as awkwardly proportioned figures whose commanding positions have been subverted by the size and relation of their body parts. Dressed in colourful gowns and adorned with delicately rendered flowers, these animated figures shape and shift between the abstract and expressionistic realms of incongruities. Huang’s work in this sense projects a sense of uncertainty and a hovering between worlds–reiterating in a poetic way about the afterlife and freedom towards the unknown. The representation of the warriors in this manner removes their generally assumed position of power and makes our understanding of such iconic image difficult to recognize, thus connecting us more to Huang’s own personal negotiation of past and present. Text by Rosemary Marland, M.A. Art History, Contemporary Chinese Art, Carleton University, Ottawa