Huang Rui – The Stars Period of 1977-1984

cover of Huang Rui – The Stars Period of 1977-1984

Huang Rui: The Stars Period is one of a very few books to be published about late-1970s avant garde art in China – and it certainly stands as one of the most extensive and insightful statements on this important genre ever attempted. Illustrated with images of more than 200 works by Huang Rui plus more than 200 archival photographs, the book goes on to describe the Stars Group, which pioneered many of the themes and techniques in Chinese contemporary art. Essays by important scholars and critics such as Wu Hung, Lü Peng and Shu Yang give additional context for this exciting period in Chinese artistic and cultural history spanning from 1977 to 1984. A number of the pictures, invitations, and magazines related to the exhibitions and events discussed in this book are newly rediscovered archival materials and are republished here for the first time.

Huang Rui is a Chinese contemporary artist who creates two- and three-dimensional installations and performance works. Widely considered to be a founding member of the Chinese contemporary art movement, he continues to produce socially engaged works that resonate with satire and historical references. In the late 1970s, Huang was a founding member of the Chinese avant-garde art group the Stars along with Wang Keping, Ai Weiwei, Ma Desheng and Li Shuang. This groundbreaking group of amateur artists was the first to use art to publicly protest government censorship after the Cultural Revolution. Huang’s early works referenced Western artistic styles such as Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism, Fauvism and Cubism. His style developed along more original lines as he delved into experimentation and began exploring other mediums including photography, printmaking, installation and performance art. Huang Rui’s work is characterised by symmetry and simplicity of form, and while they stand alone as superficially pleasing objects, closer inspection of their minimalist aesthetic reveals a richness of meaning and connotation stemming from ancient Chinese philosophy, modern-day hypocrisy, and the bland obsessions of society today. More recently, Huang Rui has been a vocal advocate of the 798 Art Zone in Beijing. He was instrumental in the establishment of the art district in 2002, and in efforts to protect the area from demolition in 2004 and 2005. In 2006, 798 became the first state-recognised and protected art district in China.