Huang Rui

1952 · China

Artist biography

Born in 1952, Huang Rui was an influential force among the Chinese avant-garde. Along with artists Wang Keping, Ai Weiwei, Ma Desheng and Li Shuang he founded the Stars group which was active from 1979 to 1983. The Stars were the first publically active art collective to protest government censorship after the Cultural Revolution, and, in their divergence from State-sanctioned Socialist realism, flaunted a pointed means of artistic and political expression.

In 1982, Huang Rui travelled across Eastern China to Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces where he discovered a resonance between the classically designed gardens and waterways and his developing exploration of abstraction. The highly prescribed use of space in a scholar’s garden is an iteration of Taoist cosmology meant to represent the underlying principles of physical reality. Although Huang says, “I have never had faith in anything other than art, and neither have I worshipped idols of any domain”, Taoist and Zen concepts concerning the earthly representation of essential truths imbue his work.

In 1984, Huang Rui moved to Japan. He went there, he says, “to realize art” while “transcending art”. Japan’s less restrictive atmosphere and Huang’s reaction to what came to be called the Mono-ha group of artists provided an opening for this new stage. The Mono-ha artists rejected many of the tenets of abstract expressionism, stressing the “thingness” and the placement of the work. Huang’s own work, perhaps “post-Mono-ha”, became freer and more expressive; a distilled integration of color, space and energy.

In Japan, Huang was also exposed to the injunctions of Zen practice to depict the essence of nature without being misled by logical thought. Taoism, Zen, and the opposing yet complementary flow of yin and yang infuse Huang’s latest work. The “Zen Space” pieces summon reflection on change, duality, wholeness and what it is that allows things to be.

Huang Rui has participated in various international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale, the Rencontres d’Arles Photography Festival, and his works have been featured in prominent venues such as the Groninger Museum, Netherlands; Cobra Museum, Amsterdam; the China Institute, New York; He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen; and the Guangzhou Museum. His works are in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York; M+ in West Kowloon; and in other public and private collections worldwide.

Huang Rui