Huang Yongyu 黃永玉


“One of China’s Three Prodigies”, “Genius”, “Living National Treasure”


In 2008, Huang became the first Chinese to be awarded the “Olympic Art Prize” by the International Olympic Committee to acknowledge his contribution to arts and cultural development.


In 2006, he was awarded an honourable “Art Forms & Performance Achievements Award” in China. During the same year he donated a large 2m x 3m painting titled “World Peace” to United Nations in China, which, like Picasso’s “Gernica”, is a large scale painting that promotes peace. The following year Huang was given a special award for his charity.


In 2005, he was the winner of “Lifetime Achievement in Arts and Culture Award” in China. His outstanding artistic achievements are recognised in Italy as well, where he was awarded the highest honour award “Commander of the Order”.


Huang Yongyu’s Special Bond With Hong Kong


In 1948, 24-year-old Huang took part in left wing activities and had to flee to Hong Kong to avoid persecution. Here he held his first solo exhibition at Hong Kong University’s Fung Ping Shan Library. During his 5 years stay, he left his mark in the local arts, culture and film scene. He was once the arts editor of newspapers such as “Tai Kung Po” and “The Great Wall Pictorial” journal, where he published his sketches of places that he lived and worked in, like Kennedy Road and Wanchai. He also edited scripts at Great Wall Movie Enterprise Limited, and actors and actresses there also became subjects of his portrait sketches.


Between 1953 and 1988, Huang left Hong Kong but returned several times to exhibit his works. He has exhibited at many places including Hong Kong City Hall, Museum of Hong Kong University, Hong Kong Art Museum, and Times Square, Causeway Bay in 2007.


With Humour and Inexhaustible Creativity


“Huang Yongyu is a very versatile and multi-talented artist who always brings surprises. He never ceases to explore and take risks.... Moreover, he pushes boundaries and tries for the extreme and he is a very prolific artist. There are very few artists who channel as much energy into art as he does. Huang’s talent is also apparent in his literary works. There is wisdom, observation, wit, humour and compassion... His writing enriches the way one sees his paintings.” (excerpt from the speech given by the Vice Chairman of the Basic Law Committee, Elsie Leung in 2004 at the opening an exhibition by Huang)


In 2007, Huang’s sculpture “Adam and Eve” displayed male and female genitalia, which caused complaints from some Hong Kong viewers. Huang answered, “I just wanted to have a taste of being sued, and see how the government would react.


Huang’s Zodiac Series


Huang Yongyu especially loves animals. In 2008 Huang created the sculpture “Happy Rat” to celebrate the auspicious coincidence of his 84th birthday. The Year of the Rat, which is also his own birth sign, marked the year Beijing hosted the Olympic Games. It was the incredible popularity of the “Happy Rat” which inspired Huang to continue his Animal Zodiac Series, something which he enjoyed as it brought happiness not only to himself but to others.


Every year, Huang Yongyu creates a set of Animal Zodiac paintings to welcome the New Year. Although Huang is already in his 90s, his “forever young” mentality and optimism still shows in his artworks. Choosing not to incorporate the traditional New Year greetings in his paintings, Huang presents the New Year in his own humourous manner. Whether he is painting a little horse with a sunflower or mastering his calligraphy technique of the character “horse”, Huang’s carefree personality continues to shine through.


About Huang Yongyu


Internationally acclaimed Chinese painting master Huang Yongyu is known for his woodblock prints, ink paintings and literary works. A multi-talented man, Huang has published poems, essays, novels, screenplays and photo albums. Born in 1924 in Fenghuang, Hunan Province, Huang never went to a regular art school but he had talent and worked hard. He studied art and literature by himself and learnt from friends, society and life. Perhaps this is why he shows such initiative and vitality in his works without any set pattern.


Since the 1970s, Huang has produced an abundance of coloured ink paintings depicting landscapes, flowers and birds using freehand techniques. There are also human figures and scenes with humorous messages or historical allusions. His fresh themes, bold strokes and dripping colours combine to make an original style in contemporary Chinese painting; while his unique style of using traditional Chinese painting techniques helped contribute to his fame. His caricatures and canvas paintings are also recognised for their brilliance.


Plum blossoms and water lilies are two major subjects of Huang's work and he has made up to 8,000 images depicting water lilies. Besides paintbrushes, Huang also uses branches, his fingers and dry pulp as painting tools. He paints with amazing speed and confidence. His folk works are particularly popular in other countries. He has held exhibitions in France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan and Southeast Asia. He was granted the highest honour award "Commander of the Order" in Italy, confirming his status overseas. On August 24, 2008, he was granted the "Olympic Art Award" by the International Olympic Committee to acknowledge his contribution to arts and cultural development.



Compared to his illustrations and ink painting, Huang had a late start in sculpture. He believes sculpture is completely different from literature and art, and he sees bronze casting as another kind of enjoyment. Huang has created numerous large outdoor sculptures depicting women and animals, creating sculptures that are lively, humourous and unique.