Febuary 27 1980 About Painter Huang Yao by Sui Bo
About Painter Huang Yao
By Sui Bo (Taiwan)
I read in the newspapers about the painting and calligraphy exhibition of two of my friends. One of which is Huang Yao from Malaysia. You are probably unfamiliar with this painter under this column but he is an old friend of whom I have known in Shanghai for more than forty years. Prior to the resistance war period, in the cartoon industry in Shanghai, Huang used the pen name of Huang Xiaochou (Huang the Clown) to create the cartoon character “Niubizi’. His penmanship is to use a simple relaxing style to powerfully illustrate the ironies of life. His works were very original. His peers include Feng Zikai, Ye Qianyu and Zhang Leping of the “Sanmao” fame. His works were widely published in various newspapers and periodicals.
We began working about the same time and we got to know each other better via interaction from our contributed articles to the newspapers. At that time, he had not started to draw yet! Later, a group of fellow enthusiasts garnered together to form the Shanghai’s “Friends of literary society”, and he was also one of the pioneers. Now some of the notable members of the society include Zhou Laofu, Zhou Jinong, Wu Chengen and me. I remembered once during an outing to Kunshan, while we were cherishing a rest in a temple, a monk brought out an alms book. With the stroke of a pen, Huang wrote, “Amitayus Buddha writes Buddha nature " seven words without paying a cent, leaving the old monk feeling awkward. From this incident, it exemplified his sense of humor. This is where he got his name Xiaochou (clown) from and he received widespread approval from fellow enthusiasts. Not too long after, he joined Wu Chengda who became the editor of the column in the newspaper “Yihai” (Sea of Art), to be part of the editorial team. During his spare time after editing, he was also committed to drawing cartoons. His artwork began from here. He became a hit overnight. Besides inherent talent, his studious nature also played a major role in his success. It is by no means achieved through sheer luck.
During resistance-war period, he followed the government and retreated to Chongqing. Ever since, we have lost connection for more than four decades. It was not until he was in Malaysia to preach Christianity* that I came across the commercials on his art exhibition, and quickly rushed to view them, to relive my sense of nostalgia. I noticed that his painting techniques had shifted from cartoons to authentic Chinese paintings. From the 12 pieces of human figure paintings, which exhibit his excellent artistic attainments, the vigor of his strokes were with archaic elegance and more than innovative. It was no wonder classical poet Mr. Yi Junzhuo praised and held him in great esteem by saying that “Huang Zi’s paintings were so beautiful like luster of gems, they depict the necessities of life and portray grief as hearing cries from golden partridges” and “He made good use of fine lines to describe the characters’ beauty and attempted using splash-ink to express the magnificence of landscapes. His ink paintings of human figures were derived from Zhou Wenzhong and his landscapes from Mi Family father and son. As for his creation process, he frequently innovates out of the ancient styles. His works were avant-garde and ingenious, giving its art appreciators a sense of freshness.”
Seeing the paintings is like meeting the old friend. I am more than pleased with my old friend’s splendid achievements in the arts. This should be a great gratification for me during the New Year period.
* Note by the Huang Yao Foundation, Huang Yao preached Christianity in Thailand, not Malaysia.