Lot 088

b. China, 1917 – d. Kuala Lumpur, 1987

LUCKY CATCH 得鲤, 1979-80

Signed and inscribed in Chinese with seal on calligraphy
(lower left)
Signed and inscribed in Chinese with seal on artwork
(upper right)
Ink and colour on rice paper mounted on scroll
30.5cm x 35.5cm (calligraphy)
51cm x 35.5cm (ink painting)

Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur;
acquired directly from the artist.

ESTIMATE  RM 12,000 - 15,000

Huang Yao illustrates an elderly fisherman holding a fishing rod and a child carrying a large carp after a big catch. The calligraphy on top reads “智者多在渔樵问”, which means invalueable knowledge can be obtained if we ask even the commoners like fishermen or lumberjack. Huang Yao then uses his signature humourous allegory and use of Chinese characters of the same pinyin “鲤” and “理” to illustrate a message that is embedded within the imagery.

Throughout an illustrious career as a cartoonist, scholar and painter, Huang Yao had produced diverse collections of artwork from his travels depicting local landscapes and human figures in various styles namely: Bai miao, a technique of drawing fine outlines of a figure using Chinese brush; Yibihua, one stroke painting which entails the main subject completed in a single brush stroke; Tu’anhua, a stylised painting of nature or animals; Wenzihua, Huang Yao’s innovative way of depicting ancient Chinese characters through his years of research in Chinese philology; and Ziyouhua, the freedom to paint expressively resulting in abstract works unlike anything produced by other Chinese artists at the time of creation, circa 1970s.

Huang Yao’s ancestor can be traced to Huang Xiang, a filial son of the Eastern Han Dynasty and through his father, Huang Hanzhong, he was taught the traditional Chinese art of calligraphy, painting, classical literature, philology, history and philosophy. He was raised in an environment that strongly appreciates arts and culture. In 1935, Huang Yao became Art Editor of the Shanghai Post and drew a huge following with his cartoon character, Niubizi, which had also become his nom de plume, from 1934 to 1956. He had written and published numerous educational books namely A Chinese Soldier (1941) for the army during the war in China, Ten Talks on Niubizi for art classes in schools which was later translated into Malay language as Eight Talks on Niubizi, Chongqing in Cartoon (1943) and many more.

He travelled extensively during his lifetime, leaving China for Vietnam before moving to Thailand, Singapore and finally settling down in Malaysia. His legacy has seen a great resurgence since his retrospective exhibition in Singapore and Shanghai, China in 2001 and 2011 respectively. More major museums are including works of Huang Yao into their list of pantheons. They include the British Museum, Ashmolen Museum, the National Palace Museum of Taiwan and the Shanghai Museum in China. A special memorial show titled The Remarkable Guest of Malaya attributed to Huang Yao was held at the National Visual Arts Gallery, Kuala Lumpur in 2013.

Return To Innocence: Huang Yao’s Painting of Happy Children,
Dr. Tan May Ling.
Rediscovered Talent, Huang Yao: Cartoonist/Scholar/Painter,
Shanghai Art Museum, 2011.