Claire Huang, an artist inspired by architecture

Photo courtesy of Claire Huang

Born and raised in Shanghai, China, Claire Huang moved to Vancouver with her husband in 1999. Previously an architectural designer in both Shanghai and Vancouver, Huang switched careers and decided to pursue her love for the arts.

In 2005, Huang graduated from the Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in drawing and painting. A few years later, she was able to set up a studio with other artists in East Vancouver.

“I started a busy but fulfilling journey working with my paintings,” explains Huang.

In talking about whether she always intended to follow her passion for art even though she had a career in architectural design, Huang recalls how strong of a hold art had on her family.

“I grew up in a family with roots in the love of art. I remember I liked to draw the artifacts in my old house when I was a child. It seemed inevitable for me to fall in love with art,” she says.

Appreciation of a milieu of culture and styles

As an artist, Huang appreciates the simplicity and duality of Chinese ink painting but, at the same time, is taken aback by the sublime exuberance of oil paint. She looks up to and finds inspiration in the works of Chinese expatriate painter Mu Xin and German visual artist Gerhard Richter.

As an admirer of art and art styles from two very different cultural spectrums, she has also attempted to explore these varying styles in her own work. Another aspect that has a large impact on her work is architecture.

“My background in architectural design certainly has an impact on my practice in art,” recalls Huang. “The building or the interior embodies layered human ambition which becomes a particular focus for me to look through the intertwined relationship between the space and people with a contemporary pictorial language.”

Painting a multitude of possibilities

Even though Huang may not have a clear roadmap of exactly where her art is going, she knows what she likes and dislikes.

“My art is a tribute to the places that evoke a moment of contemplation,” says Huang.

She begins her painting process with pictures from her travels as reference material.

“I present what I imagine could be rather than what I actually see, and I enjoy places that have mystery and atmosphere,” discloses Huang.

Her work evolves through various stages with a mix of fragmented images and accumulated layers of colour. The subject and background often melt away into each other, and, in many ways, people may view her work as a hybrid of abstract and representational images.

“I like to see that my painting can open up a multitude of possibilities to the viewers,” says Huang.

A global outreach

Huang’s show displayed the concepts of her view with clarity and ambiguity inhabited with mysterious landscapes and ambiguous architectures. An example of this is her Vista series that was mainly based on the inspirations taken from her trip to Italy a few years ago.

In the last two years, her work has been exhibited in the Silk Purse Gallery, West Vancouver and the gallery in Douglas College. Huang’s painting, City of Glass I and II have also previously been displayed in the Canadian Pavilion of EXPO 2010 in Shanghai, China.

Her work and future exhibitions can be found on her website or through