Born in Sichuan, China, and currently residing in New York, Yanyan Huang derives influences from a range of Classical and ancient cultures that map out an elaborate mythology of geographies, identities, and interdependent relationships within her own autobiography as well as the natural world. Her paintings decontextualize and synthesize elements of calligraphic strokes with automatic gestural mark-making, echoing devotional ornamentation. Sensuous and poetic, these labyrinthian explosions of colors stem from outpourings of emotion, shaped into garden paths of inner psychic landscapes.
Much in the manner of polyphonic musical compositions, strokes of color soar around the canvas as they induce the viewer into a hypnotic abyss. Her canvases delve into the nature of memory through layered arabesque gestures that give impressions of atmospheric tones while yielding a distinctive vocabulary of airy, colorful washes. The overarching flow and movement, akin to voluptuous balletic performance, conjure compositions that personify tenets of baroque tradition, ancient mythological narratives, and allusions to Chinese landscape and calligraphy.
Her Instagram performances (2017-2022) are a multi-layered form of baroque masquerade, featuring recurring masked and wigged characters who pantomime opera and ballet among other types of historical courtly performance. Referencing the artist’s early musical training, the performances enact a hallucination of intimacy and desire, meshing the banality of everyday boredom with fantastic flights of fancy, overlapped with elements of her Chinese heritage. Sets, both readymade and found, confront questions of our contemporary virtual presentation vs the “IRL” world. Her fragmented Selves exist in an eternal Utopia, a telescoped hallway of mirrors, within sets that provide as much historical context as the characters themselves embody. Underlying the comedic aspects, these performances critique the endless labor of presenting an ideal femininity within the historical Western canon while mirroring the darker aspects of excessive artificiality through which femininity is accepted or rejected.