One of Huang Yao’s wenzihua works. Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai Art Museum
Of the famous trio of Chinese cartoonists who came to prominence in the 1930s, Huang Yao (1914-1987) may not enjoy the enduring popularity of his contemporaries Zhang Leping, the “father” of San Mao, and Ding Cong, who illustrated Lu Xun’s novels, but a current exhibition is helping to keep his memory alive.
The reason for his relatively low profile may be connected to his emigration to Malaysia in the 1940s, where he remained for the rest of his life. He never saw his hometown, Shanghai, again, and passed away in 1987.
An exhibition at Shanghai Art Museum is aptly titled Rediscovered Talent and features more than 160 of his works. The Huang Yao Foundation has donated Maodun Ji (Contradiction), a collection of 65 of Huang’s original works as a permanent gift to the museum. “Huang was an important figure in the cartoon industry during a time when the industry was reaching a peak in Shanghai,” said Xiao Xiaolan, curator of the show and also the director of the academic department at Shanghai Art Museum.