Huang Rui (born 1952) is a Chinese artist known for his social and cultural criticism. He is widely considered one of the founding members of the Chinese Contemporary art movement, and continues to produce work that reflects the concerns of a highly socially engaged artist through historical references and satire of reality.
Huang Rui was born in Beijing in 1952. During the Cultural Revolution, he was sent at the age of 16 to Inner Mongolia where he worked as a farmer. He later returned to Beijing, working in a leather company until 1979. There, he studied art briefly at Beijing Worker's Cultural Center. Huang Rui was a founding member of the Chinese avant-garde art group the "Stars," which included artists Wang Keping, Ai Weiwei, Ma Desheng and Li Shuang and was active in from 1979 to 1983 This groundbreaking group of amateur artists was the first publicly active art collective to protest government censorship after the Cultural Revolution. The group made headlines in 1979 when, under the direction of Huang Rui and Ma Desheng, they held an exhibition outside the China Arts Gallery (now the National Art Museum of China). On the third day of the exhibit, the police shut it down, stating that these activities "affect the normal life of the public and the social order." Before this, the majority of their exhibits were held secretly in private homes, where the artists would participate in lively debates about topics ranging from Western art trends to artistic freedom.
In 1978, Huang Rui co-published the literary journal Today (今天), which was thought to be "one of the most radical publications in circulation after the Cultural Revolution."The journal, which was in circulation for three years, included both the poetry and prose of such writers as Bei Dao, Gu Cheng, Mang Ke, Shu Ting, and Yang Lian. Early on, Huang Rui mostly created paintings that referenced various Western artistic styles such as Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism, Fauvism and Cubism. However, as his style developed, he became more experimental and began exploring different mediums including photography, printmaking, installation art and performance art. As a result, his work is not easily classified.