Ying Huang is a Manchurian-born Chinese Australian painter and printmaker. Known for her unique style of screenprinting that is directly etched onto raw steel metal, Huang’s work has been exhibited throughout Australia and in Hong Kong and Scotland. She has won awards from Print Council of Australia, the Victorian Flanagan Art Prize (Ballarat) and RMIT University Best Student Prize. In 2016, she was commissioned by Melbourne’s City of Yarra to create a six-walled mural representing its multicultural community.
Huang conceptualises a political art movement that she has termed Polipanda or Political Pop Propaganda Art. Polipanda is a hybrid practice combining political propaganda art and pop art, explores how history is manipulated through mass media images and challenges us to rethink notions of authenticity and originality. Inspired by iconic images from film, photography, other cultural media and everyday life and personal experiences Huang recontextualises these images through her own lived experience of a negotiated cultural identity. Although often still recognisable, the images are unsettling, providing only a trace or imprint of their origins, their meaning altered and taking on a life of their own.
Her current work continues to satirise popular culture and political history. This work finds inspiration from Rose O’Neill’s Kewpie Doll, a character who is “a sort of little round fairy [and] whose…idea is to teach people to be merry and kind at the same time.” Huang inverts its optimism through its uncanny mischief by appropriating the ‘pie’ of kewpie. This series, which she terms as ‘Political-pie’, includes producing caricatures of notorious and influential political leaders such as Donald Trump (‘Trump-pie’), Kim Jong-Il (‘Kim-pie’) and Malcolm Turnbull (‘Malcolm-pie’). Huang’s work is playful, rebellious, humorous, yet provides unflinching and unapologetic commentary on the world of mass media images in which we live. She takes viewers on a light-hearted tour of the art world, prompting us to re-encounter our taken-for-granted experiences of ‘art’, everyday life, and popular culture.
Before Huang settled in Melbourne in 2005 she has lived and travelled in many counties throughout Asia, Europe and the Middle East working as scuba diving instructor and teacher. She completed her Bachelor of Fine Art (Honours) at RMIT in 2014.
It was during her last year of study at RMIT that Huang developed and originated her unique style of steel metal work that combines numerous traditional printmaking methods in one plate. She uses the same raw steel metal that manufacturers use to make cars. She etches the steel plate like a copper plate and then silk screenprints the image directly onto the steel surface. Sometimes, she also digitally prints the image onto the steel, similar to how traditional print making uses the copper plate to print images onto paper. She also explores work on brushed aluminium, a medium that allows its colour and texture to illuminate the image itself.
Huang describes her steel metal works thus: “I’ve always loved textured surfaces, the aged and corroded look. My mission is to create prints that possess the quality of paintings, to blur some boundaries from prints to paintings. All my steel metal works actually has a super smooth surface although they look opposite because I sand prime the plate surface very carefully before they being printed”.