May 03, 2023
Everyday is more important than the bigger picture: an interview with Baoying Huang
Article by Mollie Barnes
4 min. read
“In a world that’s constantly bombarding us with information and events, it’s a conscious decision to pay attention to the mundane.”
Moving away from the mechanical state of education she experienced growing up in China, Huang moved to the US to pursue her studies about 7 years ago. Here, Huang learned how to freely create. The last few years have seen Huang embrace the charm of realism, while most of her inspiration stems from intuition, as nothing can truly bind an artist.
Her inspiration also comes from a multitude of spaces; female artists such as Catherine Murphy, Jennifer Bartlett, Vija Celmins, and Sylvia Plimack Mangold, as well as her imagination, research and readings.
Carefully selecting her scenes, Huang makes the mundane, spectacular. She describes the seemingly quiet moments as “creases in our routine that are essential to our lives”. These quieter moments are, to the artist, more important to us in the long run. “That’s why painting is such a powerful medium. It allows us to capture and prolong these fleeting moments, giving them the attention and significance they deserve.” Works are autobiographical, often reflecting her state of mind during the moment of creation. The scenes depicted are transcendental moments she catches in the mundanity of life, making them all the more real and tangible.
Many works incorporate a clearly technological, digital aspect. Be that a machine being depicted, grid lines, QR codes and so forth. Huang began incorporating these elements such as computer screens and pixelated Chinese characters into her paintings during the COVID-19 pandemic when social interactions were limited. In her own words, “these elements represent the increasing role of digital technology in our lives.”
Titles come to her unexpectedly. While working with a cup of coffee in hand and her dog by her side, she listens to podcasts and music, which often synchronize with the flow of the painting in progress. When the lyrics match, these often become the titles. She says this intuitive process of choosing titles not only adds an element of spontaneity to her work, but also balances out the strictness of the painting itself and completes the story. Working in oil paints, Huang often enjoys working on several paintings at once. Her studio is her haven. She describes how it protects her most sensitive nerves.
“I wish my paintings can be more than the images the viewer can perceive on the surface. They embed my hope in the world.”
A series the artist spoke about was Sisters I Never Met. Within this body of work, flowers are imbued with metaphors that relate to women’s fate, going beyond being merely beautiful still-life paintings. Huang contrasts this to the way flowers are utilized commercially in society, such as Valentine’s Day bouquets, wedding flowers; and as she describes “arrangements imposed by humans and meaning imposed upon flowers, as if it is their natural duty to be beautiful”. This body of work challenges the representations of flowers. She elaborates, “this is a shared fate – we are all sisters who have never met. The images juxtaposed with the flowers in my paintings hold many possible definitions, representing authority, restraint, harm, and something opposite to women’s consciousness. It is the reflection raised by the juxtaposition that I wish to bring to the audience’s attention.”
2023 is a busy year for Huang, with her first solo exhibition in the US at Latitude Gallery, NYC in May, as well as two group exhibitions in Beijing in June. As if that wasn’t enough, she is exhibiting in another solo exhibition with Mou Projects, in Hong Kong, in October. Prior to these exhibitions, Huang will be showing two works at Future Fair, with newcube early May.
Visit newcube at Future Fair!
535 W 28th ST
New York, NY 10001
May 10-13, 2023