“Art is a way for me to find my nature through experience, learning and reflection.”

Born 1978, Yongzhou, Hunan. Lives and works in Beijing

Huang Yan quotes the Platform Sutra: “Seek enlightenment within the heart, not outside.” His paintings emerge almost automatically, he says, as if he is transcribing a waking dream. Their shadowy forms are heavily influenced by his preoccupation with the weird and the otherworldly: extraterrestrials and time travel, the mythical monsters of the Shanhaijing, the weird shapes of clouds and taihu rocks, and the magical traditions of the ancient Kingdom of Chu, which dominated what is today southern China. The demonic-looking creatures represent Huang Yan’s unconscious drives and those of his contemporaries, he says. The continuing series A Plan (2012–) is a visual logbook of his voyages through his inner depths. “I want to examine whether the images that come to me intuitively change over time,” he says. “What will they become when my values change or when there is a great change in my life?”

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