March 28 1987 Remembering Huang Yao by Lang Taosha
By Lang Taosha
As currently reported: Mr Huang Yao’s memorial service and retrospective exhibition have already been fixed to be held on 3rd April, at the Malaysian Institute of Art Exhibition Centre. Given that the above-mentioned event is a meaningful one, it is expected to attract a significant number of visitors.
Recalling the first time that I met Huang Yao, it was in Penang. At that time (towards the end of late 70s), he had just retired. (Prior to this, he headed a school and was also a teacher.) He had once actively participated in the activities of the Penang Art Society. Before that, my late best friend Ye Taihen, had told me earlier on that Huang Yao is the famous China cartoonist, and his work included the Niubizi art collections.
That day, he hastily told me a few words and left; perhaps he has an appointment. The first impression that he has gave me is [that he is] forthright, sincere and a well cultured person and unassuming. I know nothing about paintings but I liked his comics. His works are very meaningful, within which there are tears in laughter and laughter in tears.
Later, my family moved to Petaling Jaya. I remember one day in 1979, I met him on a bus. Two of us sat together and chatted. He told me that Dr. Zheng Liangshu of the University of Malaya, Department of Chinese Studies is learning painting from him. Conveniently, I asked for Dr. Zheng's address. He immediately copied down and handed me the slip of paper. Since he is so helpful, he will never be unfaithful!
In the later part of the year, he brought a Dr. Tadao Sakai, from a Japanese professors’ delegation, to my own office and I met him again. During the conversation, he expressed his desire to compile information and historical facts about Malaysia’s rubber industry. I promised to assist him to the best of my knowledge, in order for him to complete this great deed. In fact, he is not only a painter, but also a writer, and as for history, he had done in-depth research. His book “The History of Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore” which is the essential reference book in the libraries at home and abroad. From this book, I have benefited a lot.
There is no need for my mediocre writing skills to elaborate, he is our well-known national folk painter. I have appreciated a few of his New Year masterpieces, including the one he painted in the year of Ren Shu (Chinese calendar Year of the Dog). He said dogs are loyal.
About more than three decades ago, he was invited by the “China Press” to be a full-page cartoonist. In addition, in many articles that he wrote, there were many with illustrations. For example, he repeatedly wrote for “Literary Road”, which is a ready example of it.
The last time that I saw him was in the second half of last year. He was with his wife sitting in the mini bus, returning to his home at Petaling Jaya. Coincidentally, I was in the same bus. Unfortunately, due to the short distance we chatted only for a few minutes.
He was born in Zhejiang in 1915, and passed away in the spring of this year (not counting leap years), at the age of 72.
I admit that I am a lazy person. His and my home, being in the same district, is not too far away and even within walking distance. However, I was too lazy to take the initiative to make visits, losing lots of opportunities to make connection. Today we are worlds apart, I wish to regret but isn’t it too late?
In Tang poet Li Shangyin’s poem, it said: “Such feelings have become memories, just that I do not understand it at that time.”
This is what my lazy bones deserve, nothing else to say.