Nightfall, the first solo exhibition of emerging Chinese artist Huang Xiaoliang in Hong Kong, is open to the public from today until 16 June 2018 at Over The Influence. Featuring 23 photographs and three videos made between 2009 to 2017, Huang establishes a dialectic as the image maker with this collection, positing himself simultaneously as both observer and participant in the ordinary, quotidian routines that make up our modern existence.
Huang’s images depict a hazy border when dreams meet reality; they are liminal sites between slumber and waking life, between what is remembered and misremembered, how memories can shift, change, and fade. The artist purposefully plays with ambiguity and displays his visions, often devoid of color, of subjects in silhouette form – lacking details that can distinguish identity, location, or specific points in time. Themes of nostalgia, transience, and universality figure heavily in these scenes of magical realism, where some elements may appear strange yet familiar to the viewer. “At night, everything is ambiguous yet dramatically beautiful,” Huang says.
Huang’s practice incorporates extensive pre-production to construct his photoworks: crafted sets, projections and cut-outs all work in tandem to produce an image in camera, and are not the result of digital manipulation. His archival pigment prints display expansive depth due to elements in greater or lesser focus; “Outskirts” (2009), for example, presents high-rises in light grey-scale, with a train in sharper contrast. Children playing in the foreground are denoted by their stark, matte silhouettes. This treatment is also seen in “Waiting for the Wind” (2012), in which a horse stands in the middle of a bridge as the water and greenery that surround it fade away.
More recent work incorporates colour with dramatic effect in two “Untitled” pieces from 2015 – one with a blazing orange backdrop that illuminates the social activities occurring inside a dwelling, and the other with a bright pink gradient, suggestive of the sky at dusk, as a backdrop that brings the details of a row of architectural structures into view.
A master in balancing light with shadow, Huang’s photographs echo the early masters of the medium Eadweard Muybridge and Louis Daguerre, while keeping implicit the influence of traditional Chinese painting and shadow puppetry.
About Huang Xiaoliang
Huang Xiaoliang (b. 1985) Currently based in Beijing and Changsha, Huang has held solo exhibitions at M97 Gallery, Shanghai, ChART Contemporary, Beijing, and See+ Gallery, Beijing. Select group exhibitions have included China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne, Magda Gallery, Paris, Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum, Shanghai, Today Art Museum, Beijing, in addition to participation in AIPAD, Photo London, Paris Photo, Dali International Photography Festival, New York Photo Festival, among others. Huang received the Tierney Fellowship in 2010, in addition to the Three Shadows Photography Award, and the Fang Jun Art Award from Beijing’s Today Art Museum.