The first British Chinese artist having a solo exhibition at Mall Galleries and first honorary member of Royal Society British Artist receiving Medal of The Whistler Award from RBA
Huaicun Zhang is a British Chinese writer and artist, who has called the UK home for over two decades. She has written and illustrated more than 30 children’s literature and poetry books, plays and translations to date. In addition to her literary achievements, Zhang has created lot pieces of art. She has exhibited her paintings across Asia, Europe and North America since 2003. Her traditional Chinese style is popular amongst many international organisations and private collectors.
Zhang’s inspiration for her art started from childhood and young adult life experiences. Born and raised in the Qilian Mountains in northwest China, she fell asleep every night to the sounds of the Huangshui River and the Yellow River. She dreamt of the snow-topped Qilian Mountains and the blue water of the Qinghai Lake.
As a young child, she loved drawing and writing. She focused most of her spare time on painting and writing poetry and essays during her first career as a primary schoolteacher in China. She pushed herself to develop her skills by thinking of ‘how wonderful it would be if I could fully capture the remarkable beauty of this scene with my brush one day’.
Many years later, Huaicun Zhang has achieved more remarkable feats in writing and painting than her younger self ever dreamt of. Her latest incredible achievement is her solo exhibition “Hauicun’s World – Blossom” at Mall Galleries, one of London’s premier art spaces.
This exhibition ran between 11th and 24th July. It attracted many art collectors and art lovers from the UK, and from Southeast Asia and received international attention and acclaim. The exhibition included over 120 pieces of exquisite traditional Chinese ink and oil paintings. Zhang used her brush skilfully to pay homage in ink and colour to the simple beauty and kindness she appreciates in everyday life. Her works embody her soul by uniquely capturing the timeless beauty of virtue, the passion of emotions like love and the spirit of courage. Her style of delicate mixed with bold brush strokes and strong yet elegant colours enables art lovers to appreciate traditional Chinese art through a new lens in the 21st century.
“Hauicun’s World – Blossom” set a new record: 47 of Zhang’s ink paintings including [I only need a small piece of Land] and [Filled with my Soul] were sold on the opening night alone. Another amazing achievement for the first British Chinese artist to have a solo exhibition at Mall Galleries.
Zhang was invited to Mall Galleries by the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA), of which she has been an honorary member since 2017, the first and only British Chinese artist to receive this honour to date. Times Publications spoke with the President of RBA Mick Davies to find out more about how he became a fan of Zhang ten years ago.
“Her art pieces were incredibly talented and so different. Personally, I like to see something special, unique, and creative that no one else has done before. The art must express your own words and thoughts.” Mick Davies shortly afterwards invited Zhang to submit her work for the RBA annual exhibition, elevating her reputation in the UK to another level.
Mr Davies also discussed the invaluable role the RBA plays in supporting artists in the UK. The RBA was established nearly two centuries ago as an alternative to the Royal Academy. Thousands of British artists are eligible to apply for membership and undergo a rigorous application process. The RBA currently has around two hundred members, who participate in an annual exhibition held at Mall Galleries.
At the opening evening exhibition on 11 July, Mr Davies on behalf of the RBA, awarded the Whistler award to Zhang in recognition of her artistic achievements.
“We value traditional art and we give opportunities to everyone. I have watched a lot of Chinese artists’ art pieces for sale in places like Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Those works are extraordinary. But I think Chinese artists especially young artist sometimes try to steer away from traditional art to satisfy western art buyers and art lovers. Whether this is a right direction for art innovation? Artists without an identity have lost their artistic souls. Therefore, we try to support artists who are very traditional but extremely distinctive. It is not easy to become a member, but we do try to give non-members more support. Ms Huaicun Zhang is perfect for us.” Mr Davies explained.
Zhang told Times Publications “I have always believed it is very important to carry on a tradition. Tradition originates from life, and so every art form such as literature and art is based on life. Tradition evolves and changes rapidly with our lives and the world around us. We all play a part in the development of tradition and we all witness the evolution of tradition into its current shape.”
“Huaicun’s World – Blossom” celebrates Zhang’s love of nature and spirituality. Her thoughts and feeling are explored on ink and rice paper in a beautiful and unique way as she introduces her perception of Chinese aesthetics to the UK. Zhang’s key life principles include kindness and family, so she celebrated her own landmark achievement by generously donating all the income from sold her art pieces at this solo exhibition to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.