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Celebrated artist Huang Yongyu dies

By Lin Qi | China Daily | Updated: 2023-06-15 09:04
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Huang Yongyu (1924-2023) [Photo provided to China Daily]

Huang Yongyu, one of the most productive and best-known artists in the second half of the 20th century in China, died on Tuesday, according to a statement from his family. He was 99.

Huang was recognized as a legendary figure in Chinese art and design. He basically taught himself to paint and write. His versatility has been acknowledged in woodcuts, ink painting, composing poems and essays and novels, and designing postage stamps.

The comprehensiveness of Huang's artistic ability arose from his perseverance, self-learning and long-term accumulation of experiences by taking on different jobs in his early years and extensive traveling at home and around the world.

Hailing from Fenghuang, Hunan province, and a member of the Tujia ethnic group, Huang was forced to drop out of school because of financial burdens. At age 14, he left his hometown and traveled across the country to earn a living.

He once worked at ceramic workshops, taught at primary schools, designed props for theater troupes and made illustrations for magazines. Not only did he land these jobs to support himself, but he was also able to hone his art skills to later establish a career as an artist.

His gift and hard work won him recognition from leading figures like Xu Beihong, former dean of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, who invited Huang to be a professor at the school in the early 1950s.

What made Huang a household name was his designing of several sought-after stamps, including the "Golden Monkey Stamp", which was issued in 1980 to celebrate the Year of the Monkey, and the Year of Rabbit stamp set of two — among his last works — one of which shows a blue rabbit that drew divided opinions.

Huang once said: "I have achieved little in my lifetime. I didn't receive much formal education. But I dared not live a life without an aim or in laziness."

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