Long Scroll is a kind of portrait of the artist, a Chinese expatriate living in France. In the early 1980s, while Huang was studying traditional techniques in Hangzhou, China, information about modern Western art became accessible for the first time in decades. Influenced by this influx, Huang began to make conceptually based artwork, and in 1986 he helped found the radical art group Xiamen Dada. Taking the form of a traditional Chinese scroll, this work is a nonhierarchical inventory of images relating to the artist’s career and wide range of influences. In one section, Huang alludes to his 1997 sculpture Thousand-Armed Guanyin, a work that connects two culturally distinct objects: the many-armed Buddhist figure Guanyin and the pronged readymade Bottlerack (1914), by Marcel Duchamp, a key figure of the twentieth-century avant-garde. Two colors—blue and orange—circulate throughout the piece and are occasionally combined, a coloristic mixing that is suggestive of cultural dichotomies that are variously merged and reconfigured.
Gallery label from Contemporary Art from the Collection, June 30, 2010–September 12, 2011.
On a fundamental level, Huang's work deals with the mixing of artistic cultures, specifically those of China and western Europe. In the early 1980s, while Huang was studying traditional techniques at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zhejiang, China, information about Western art became available for the first time in decades. Inspired by figures such as Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, and Joseph Beuys, Huang began to make conceptually based artwork. He founded the Xiamen Dada group in 1986. Long Scroll is a kind of intellectual self-portrait. Taking the form of a traditional Chinese scroll and executed in a style that reveals Huang’s classical training, this work tells the story of his art education and career development. Two colors are used throughout the piece—blue and orange—and it is tempting to see cultural difference represented in that dichotomy, especially in the places where Huang has mixed the colors together. Using a classical form for a Conceptual artwork, in Long Scroll Huang incorporates cultural exchange at a basic level. In every way the piece—one of the most personal and emotive artworks by this preeminent Conceptualist—speaks of difference and conciliation.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 211.