“If I am lucky, it is the song that gives clear and luminous meaning to my passion for art,” shares glass artist and painter Arlan Huang, whose first solo exhibition of paintings, MOST VIOLET:PAINTINGS 2003- 2008, will be on view from October 30-December 6 at Walter Randel Gallery in New York.His permanent public commissions in glass in New York City include Suddenly Laughter: Reflections from Within a Zen Rock Garden at the Jacobi Medical Center, American Origins at P.S. 152, and Wall of Honor for the Asian & Pacific Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS (in progress). If these works in glass demonstrate the artist’s cooperative and collegial spirit, the distinctive paintings presented in this exhibition afford a privileged view of the more personal side of his creative focus. An accomplished and expressive colorist, MOST VIOLET is a five-year survey of Mr. Huang’s work.
Through the vigorous examination of tint underlying the very tracks of his brushwork, Huang envisions the act of painting as a lyrical, harmonious and whole moment within an exceptional, mindful zone. The artist describes a “humm” that flows through him and envelopes his senses when he paints. What is commonly called Qi-life force and energy-for Huang translates more specifically as “breath,” the vital tool he has mastered and refined through his glass-blowing. It is the force that transforms all of his creative efforts.
In his painted oeuvre, Huang’s brush becomes an extension of his very breath. He skillfully “breathes” boundless energy into his interlacing lines and colors to produce a visual account of the struggle, profundity and fluidity central to his spirit. His painted surfaces alternate rhythmically between dense opacity and near transparency; passages dominated by thick impasto, at times glistening with a metallic sheen, contrast markedly with areas of subtle, atmospheric washes of color. These paintings distill a visceral, tender spirituality. The work, abstracted from and elevated above culture or the continuity of any specific national tradition, is in essence a painterly Esperanto.
A 12th-century musicologist and cleric Gerard of Wales’ description of a Celtic manuscript perhaps best captures the spirit of this 21st-century painter’s sophistication: “When you concentrate your eyes… with a sustained effort [and] penetrate the secrets of art, you will be able to perceive intricacies so delicate and subtle, so knotted and interlaced, and so much illuminated by colors which have preserved their freshness up to our day that you will attribute the composition of all this to the industry of angels rather than humans.”
A more current view of Huang’s canvases has been offered by Samuel Fromartz, who has written of Huang’s canvases with apt reference to the poetry of Allen Ginsberg, “There is turmoil and energy here, but, paradoxically, the works seem tranquil and meditative. Like music, but silent, or life’s stories, and then their absence. The paintings hold these poles together for a minute and then let go, leaving you with, as a poet once called it, ‘the dearness of the vanishing moment.'” Huang himself affirms, “These paintings dwell in the abstract sublime, and for one brilliant moment, life becomes crystal clear. This is why I paint.”
This exhibition also includes a part of his ongoing life project ironically called A Day’s Work. New York Times critic Holland Cotter reviewed this project in 1998 as “an impressive work…a set of hand-blown glass “stones”… clustered on the gallery floor and carrying a range of meanings.” Mr. Cotter noted that, “Huang created the original group as a memorial to his Chinese-born grandfather but continues to produce them, each stone sequentially numbered, both to mark the passage of time in his own life and as a gesture of commitment to art as a story unfolding.” Eventually, the artist intends to make 10,000 glass stones; to date, he has completed 1337.
Arlan Huang was born in Bangor Maine in 1948 and grew up in San Francisco’s Chinatown. He is a graduate of the Pratt Institute in New York City and has studied at the San Francisco Art Institute. Mr. Huang has been a visiting artist in residence at the Brandywine Workshop in Philadelphia. His numerous honors include awards from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Department of Cultural Affairs of New York City.
The opening reception is on Thursday, October 30 from 6-8pm.
October 30-December 6, 2008
Hours: Tuesdays through Saturdays 11am-6pm
On-line exhibition live October 25, 2008: www.wrgallery.com
Walter Randel Gallery
287 Tenth Ave -2nd Fl. (Btwn 26th & 27th Sts.)