Ying Huang: Popular Culture and the Political
Growing up in China, Ying Huang was torn between becoming an artist and an Egyptologist. While she was fascinated by stories of the ancient Egyptians fascinated her, it was her studies in Chinese calligraphy and Chinese classical painting with her older brother that truly captivated her. Her artistic family, particularly her older brother, helped to inspire and educate her.
When Ying settled down in Melbourne after travelling the world, she decided to really pursue her art career. She returned to studying art, and dove into the Australian art scene. Of this decision, she says “it’s not easy to choose art as a profession but again, nothing is easy.”
During her time studying art at RMIT University in Melbourne, Ying created the political art movement she calls ‘Polipanda’. She explains that “Polipanda (Political Pop Propaganda Art) is a hybrid practice combining political propaganda art and pop art to satirise and explore how history is manipulated through mass media images. It challenges us to rethink notions of authenticity, originality and the truths behind the mass media.” Polipanda began with Ying “exploring a negotiated cultural identity to find the humour in popular culture.”
Ying herself closely follows politics, which provides much fodder for her satirical paintbrush. However, she isn’t impressed by what she is seeing – “I think the world of news and media is quite depressing these days. It’s a dark age we are experiencing.” Her playful work aims to alleviate this atmosphere. Although Ying has a humorous take on the current political climate, she does hope to still provide a serious commentary. One of her most frequent subjects, like so many others today, is Donald Trump.
During her time at RMIT, Ying discovered the joys of printmaking, after painting with oils for years. Now she works in both oil paint and printmaking, although over the last couple of years, prints have dominated. Ying hopes to return to more painting-based work soon.
Of the two mediums, she says “I love everything about oil painting, from stretching your own canvas to making the first mark. As a printmaker, I enjoy the challenge of when you are making a large edition, the ‘accidental’ marks on the plate when you do etching and the almost painful time consumption from making a print to a proof.”
“Being an artist is a romantic idea but not cool in reality.” While pursuing her passion for art has not always been easy, Ying believes in the important role that artists play in society. She explains, “we criticize and critically examine our humanity through art.” She’s learned to embrace the highs and lows of this career, and loves that it gives her a real purpose in society.
Ying’s apartment has become her studio. Inside, she has a large collection of works by both herself and other artists. Her two cats keep her company, busying themselves while she works. “Sometimes they walk on my palette and run away. So I have to clean their paw prints behind them around the house.” The cats are brothers and get along very well. In fact, they’re even a bit artistic themselves, accidentally brushing their tails against the palette and then onto other surfaces.
Since joining Bluethumb, Ying’s work has reached a much wider community than it did before. Ying believes selling art online is important, as “we are creatures of evolution” and the “online platform is inevitable in modern times.” Both her original works and prints are available for sale on her Bluethumb profile.