oleksiy koval

BEATING THE SURFACE

In ESSAYS on September 29, 2012 at 8:31 am

When I visited Gonghong Huang in August this year in Beijing, he asked me if I could write an article about his painting. I want a painter writing about my work, he said to me. I agreed.

In the contemporary art scene in China there is made a difference between figurative and abstract painting. Gonghong Huang is seen as an abstract painter there. If one sticks to the common ideas of art history, such a distinction could be accepted. But if one is painting, takes a tool in his hands and attaches colors on surfaces, you’ll find nothing abstract in this approach. Painting is never abstract. The painter makes a difference between good and bad painting, between art and non-art.

Gonghong Huang is not an abstract painter, Gonghong Huang is a painter. In the beginning the white support is often lying on the floor. Gonghong starts on one side, quickly applies the colors on the surface, then he starts on the other side and does the same. Gonghong paints quickly. After a while he is hanging the painting on the wall and rotates it until he is satisfied with top, bottom, left and right. Then he continues to paint, but this time much slower. While painting, Gonghong is less interested in color, rhythm, the light-dark and warm-cold contrast. He is interested in space. Here ‘space’ does not mean color space, but the ‘what-comes-forth and what-goes-back’ space. Gonghong paints on the surface as long until he is satisfied with the “spacial” balance. I don’t think that his works always emanate a peaceful balance, but rather a combination of destruction and construction. If it becomes too boring on the surface, Gonghong does something naughty and alienating; if he goes too far, he looks after ‘sedatives’. Sometimes Gonghong Huang shows his paintings in his studio to me, we talk about the works, criticize them, he remains silent for a moment, considers and then he immediately fixes some specific areas.

In Beijing I played table tennis and could watch many games. The carefulness with which the players choose their rackets, balls and shoes before the game, reminded me of the precision with which painters choose their tools, supports and colors. Then it starts, it is played, it is painted. Sometimes one is winning, sometimes losing, sometimes one reaches a draw. Many people ask me what Gonghong Huang is actually representing? Nothing. Painting represents nothing. Just like a tennis player is representing nothing, Gonghong as well is representing nothing. The tennis player is playing and wants to beat his opponent, Gonghong Huang is painting and wants to beat the surface.

Munich, September 2012

Thanks for help realizing this text to Prof. Bernhard Lypp and Stefan Schessl

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