Imprint of the Heart: Artistic Journey of Huang Xinbo
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The Lasting Voice: The Late Years (1976-1980)

“Therefore, to paint the dreams and fantasies of today is to paint the reality of tomorrow. However, turning dreams into reality requires human will. All in all, my painting is in praise of the human spirit.”

── Huang Xinbo, Postscript of Genesis, 1979

The Cultural Revolution finally ended in 1976. After ten years of turmoil, the savage Chinese art sector awaits its revival. Many older artists who had been deprived of the right to create art became active again. Gradually, the art scene in Guangzhou regained its former vitality. During this period, Huang Xinbo actively participated in various art conferences, as well as the organisation of art exhibitions. At the same time, he took charge of restoring the operation of the Guangzhou Division of the China Artists’ Association and the Guangdong Art Academy. From 1977 to 1978, he published two personal woodblock print albums, Huang Hsin-Po’s Woodcuts and Xinbo Block Print Album; while also exhibited his works in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing. This was one of the earliest solo art exhibitions in the post-Cultural Revolution period in China. He also participated in the editing and compilation of two large art albums, Selections of Modern Prints of China in the Fifty Years from 1931 to 1981 and Everlasting Chinese Woodcuts.

Though afflicted with illness, Huang Xinbo remained active and enthusiastic as an artist. In 1977, he produced The Eternal Flowers to commemorate the historic downfall of the Gang of Four. At the centre of the work is a sharp dagger, behind which stands a united group of proletarians, peasants, soldiers and intellectuals. The work displays Huang’s passion for life and intellectual agility. He believed the livelihood of the people would flourish through the concerted effort by people from all walks of life. Working from his sick bed, he completed a series of penetrating works in 1979, including Bangchui lsland under the Moonlight, Patrol the Sky, Admire the Earth and Genesis, etc. Huang created the former after his visit to Dalian, where ginseng is known as bangchui. Locals considered finding ginseng growing on the small island to be a happy occasion. Likewise, Huang considered the downfall of the Gang of Four as a joyous occasion worth celebrating. Making use of objective events to convey personal thoughts and feelings, he created this work in celebration. The print was ultimately sent to Japan for the “Modern Chinese Block Print Exhibition”.

Huang Xinbo was a considerate and generous leader with a strong sense of righteousness. In 1979, in Meishu magazine, he resolutely called for an initiative to put in place art policies encouraging a variety of views and free debate from all schools of thought. He put forth his view that, despite his status as a leader of the arts, the implementation of state policy for art should not be made in according to personal preferences. For the good of the development of Chinese art, every form of art should be given room to foster, be it oil painting, woodblock prints, sculpture or watercolour painting. He hoped that all kinds of art could grow and blossom through studies and exchanges, which would in turn cultivate the robust development of art and literature.

Huang Xinbo produced some 600 woodblock prints throughout his life. His creative ideas sprung from his love and care for the people. Since the beginning of his artistic career during the harsh days of the Sino-Japanese War, Huang held firm to his mission to “paint for the society and speak up for the people”. After the war, he set up the Human Art Club uniting those impoverished and drifting artists to condemn the misery in society through their art. After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, his works shifted towards extolling the power of the people; while channelling the nation’s vision and aspirations. During his torment in the ten years of the Cultural Revolution, Huang stood up to the suffering with courage and perseverance. His passion for art never wavered despite the adversity, as Huang would resume making art as soon as the suppression waned. Huang was able to reach the hearts of his audience and move them through the unique charms and revolutionary passion of his woodcuts.

In February 1980, Huang Xinbo created his last woodcut, Rose that Came out of the Greenhouse, for the occasion of the re-publishing of the Yangcheng Evening News. In March, he died of illness at the age of 64. When he passed away, a draft of an artwork remained on his working desk as the last trace of his engraved legacy for the world of people.


  • The Eternal Flowers

  • Sky of Clouds and Sea of Mountains

  • Bangchui lsland under the Moonlight

  • Patrol the Sky, Admire the Earth