Huang Chih-yang doesn't like to be categorized, either as a contemporary artist, an ink painter or a sculptor. He prefers to describe himself as a diligent laborer who has practiced art all his life.
The Taipei native, 49, lived in New York for a couple of years before moving to Beijing in 2006. He has been working with varied media, including ink pigments, installation, sculpture and video, by which he demonstrates his critical thinking of Oriental cultural customs and Western modern civilization.
"An artist is fundamentally a craftsman, but with insightful and sometimes even quirky thoughts," he says.
Huang views his current solo exhibition at the National Museum of China, The Phenomenology of Life: Chapters in a Course of Study, as a work report of his craftsmanship in the past eight years, as well as his thoughts from an artistic career spanning three decades.
"Either in the past or the modern time, an artist should work, practice and think unsparingly, through which one can accumulate certain art vocabularies and symbols that give full expression to one's cultural lineage," he says.
"For me, the practice of art is a lifetime pursuit."
Huang displays some 20 works as examples of his passion for Chinese traditions. His creations provide a glimpse of how his generation of Taiwan artists inherit and enrich Chinese culture, a concept he has expanded since his move to Beijing.
He assembled 19 pieces of white marble to form the installation Possessing a Thousand Peaks. He fashioned the stones to resemble the Great Wall towers built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and dragon totems. He created a landscape of rolling mountains guarding the capital city.
In the huge painting Beijing Bio, composed of nine linked screens, he renders an early spring scene with dense ink brushes. His frenetic depictions of thawing ice, chirping crickets and sprouting plants convey the enormous inner power of Beijing.
He borrowed the elements of his color scheme from traditional brocade when he painted the Zoon Dreamscape series. He applied layers of ink, mineral color and acrylic paint on silk.
Viewers are thrilled by the vivid colors, but the highly concentrated composition could make them feel breathless.
Huang hints at the dramatic, exciting city life that can often be too fast-paced and uncomfortable.
The exhibition is among a few contemporary art shows held at the national museum.