SAN MARINO—The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens has named Beijing-born visual artist Tang Qingnian as the Cheng Family Foundation Artist-in-Residence for 2019. The annual residency was established in 2014 to promote greater understanding of Chinese culture through music, performance, poetry, and art. The Huntington’s Chinese Garden, Liu Fang Yuan, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance, serves as the focal point and source of inspiration for the program.
Previous artists-in-residence were pipa virtuoso Wu Man, violinist Cho-Liang Lin, composer Huang Ruo, and playwright Stan Lai.
During his year-long residency, Tang will explore the contemporary ink arts and will create an original video artwork—a moving ink painting—inspired by the four seasons in Liu Fang Yuan. The work will be created using a combination of ink painting, calligraphy, animation, photography, video, and other media; it will be screened as the culmination of his residency in spring 2020, during The Huntington’s year-long Centennial Celebration. The residency will also include public programs (the first of which is a free lecture on Tang’s approach to the Chinese brush arts, which will take place on Sunday, May 19, at 2:30 p.m., in Rothenberg Hall); school outreach workshops with several of The Huntington’s educational partners; and an installation in the garden itself, planned for this summer, featuring several of Tang’s large-scale banner paintings.
Tang studied at the Central Academy of Craft Art (now the Academy of Arts and Design, Tsinghua University) in Beijing, graduating in 1984. He later worked as an art critic and as the vice director of the editorial department of the monthly art magazine Meishu. In the mid-1980s, Tang became one of the first supporters of China’s “New Wave” art movement, serving as a member of the organizing committee for the “China/Avant-Garde” exhibition held in Beijing in February 1989. At the time, this exhibition was the largest non-governmental art exhibition held in China since 1949; the exhibition was shut down twice and became international news. Since relocating to the USA in 1991, Tang has been engaged with visual creation in various media, including painting, sand drawing, sculpture, and screen printing. In 2006, he left his position as associate creative director of an advertising agency in Southern California to work as an independent artist.
Tang has taken part in numerous public programs at The Huntington since the Chinese Garden opened in 2008. Most recently, in November 2018, Tang presented an ink-and-brush calligraphy demonstration in which he transcribed a 154-character Tang-dynasty poem, “Song of Eight Drinking Immortals,” in large, cursive calligraphy on a 40-foot scroll of paper—a form of “performance art” with roots in ancient China. A video of the presentation captured the process. Similar programming is planned for Tang’s 2019–20 residency.
The visiting artist program is generously endowed by the Cheng Family Foundation, based in Pasadena.