Huang Ming-Chang often chooses to paint through the night without sleeping. His subject matter in reccent years has turned almost exclusively to the tropical countryside,where endless fields of sprouting rice and clusters of cooling banana trees spread over the land. Entering his studio, one is immediately embraced by the purity and warmth that his paintings depict. In this atmosphere Ming-Chang takes great pleasure in each moment; moments which quietly turn into months as paintings of fields appear. Friends have often joked about his meticulous attention to each brushstroke:“Ah-Chang, you should’ve brought in the harvest by now! What are you still doing planting seedlings?”When absorbed in his work, he treats everything this way, painting typically overlooked details as if he were searching for secrets. Among those in Ming-Chang ‘s panting circle, shi Song and Huang Ming-Chang are two artists who are throught to approach painting as a spiritual practice rather than simply making art. As far as Shi Song is concerned, just about ereryone agrees with this interpretation of his devotion to detail. For many years─the time he has been living in rural Xindian─the simple objects filling Shi Song’s days have lulled him into a peaceful world. Using each brushstroke to sweep away restless confusion, he strives throght his painting for inner peace and balance, he strives through his calligraphy ,as well as his paintings, establish serenity. From this account we can certainly see how calling Shi Song’s work a kind of Buddhist practice is appropriate. Huang Ming-Chang, on the other hand, considers his own kinetic energy, frankness, and eternally childlike demeanor to be completely out of tune with any spiritual discipline, yet it is precisely in these qualities that we see Ming-Chang striving in his explorations. In an artist’s statement tracing the course of his painting career and entitled Tending a Field in the Heart, Ming-Chang quietly explains:“I was born and grew up in Rueisuei Township, Hualien Country, a rural, other worldly paradise located in eastern Taiwan and tucked between coastal mountains and the Pacific Ocean. This is why I love to paint rice fields and the sea. Sweeping imagery, like that seen in my painting Bountiful Sea, lives in my heart, and couldn’t be more natural for me.”
Coming from this kind of environment, he perceives the lushness of his native home and the vitality of nature in everything , never neglecting or simplifyng even the tiniest of details. In doing so, he also allows us to perceive the joy which inheres in living things.
Recollecting Ming-Chang’s as I read his writings I immediately sense the inadequacy of language. For the sake of convenience, he often used“it”to refer to the things in his hometown. I canont help but feel that those things (or even the grass and trees) were actually AH-Chang’s cherished friends and relatives, and therefore “him”or “her”would be more appropriate pronouns. As for those rice fields, grass and trees that Ming-Chang depicted in his paintings─paintings permeated with green, pregnant with atmosphere and radiating mystery─suggest a certain divinity that only “Him”or“Her”could properly represent.
I hope my trivial ideas about Ming-Chang are not misinterpreted as mere lip service ; my aim is to make understandable his journey as it is manifested through his paintings using simple examples. Growing up in the countryside, Ming-Chang necessarily was made to feel a certain unity with everything that surrounded him. The Song Dynasty philosopher Zhang Zai expressed a similar idea with his notion that all things are composed of“qi” and therefore everything, including people and animals, has the same essence. Actually, this is an authentic depiction of the way people who grow up or live in an agricultural society think, and while they may not understand aesthetics, they do know about harmony and comfort. Due to this way of thinking, growth.