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MENG Huang: Landscape and Shanshui

Apr 10 — May 14, 2024

March 27, 2024 (Palo Alto, CA) – Qualia Contemporary Art is pleased to present Landscape and Shanshui, the gallery’s first solo exhibition of Berlin-based, Beijing-born painter MENG Huang. Having shown extensively throughout Asia and Western Europe, Landscape and Shanshui is the established artist’s first-ever solo exhibition in the United States. As part of the gallery’s ongoing programmatic focus on contemporary artists from the Asian diaspora, Qualia is proud to introduce national and local Bay Area audiences alike to Meng’s rich practice. A selection of nine oil paintings on canvas, ranging from 2016 – 2023, and a series of drawings, will highlight the past decade of the artist’s critical commentary on present-day Chinese society and history as informed by his own lived experience between China and Germany. The exhibition will be open to the public from April 10 – May 14, 2024, with an opening celebration hosted on Saturday, April 13th, from 4:30-6:30 PM PST with the artist in attendance. For more information, please visit

Over the course of his career, Meng has employed Western European mediums and techniques in the service of his own ideology and attitudes toward art making, with reverence for his Chinese roots. Citing Deng Xiaoping’s 1976 pivot toward the West, and the ensuing reintroduction of modernism to Chinese cultural discourse, Meng notes the profound influence of this atmosphere in shaping his formative years as an artist in the 1980s, and in guiding his choice to pursue oil painting. The artist views painting as representative of an entirely different value system than that of other mediums available to artists in China. Meng’s mother worked at the foreign languages library of Henan University when he was a child, affording him access to a wealth of visual and literary resources and a deeper awareness of Western culture. This understanding, combined with the Western social and cultural wave that crashed upon his generation, continues to inform and situate Meng’s distinctive practice. 

Speaking of the value system represented by the Western “landscape” and its intersection with his own study of traditional Song dynasty painting, “shanshui,” Meng explains:

“When I look at traditional landscape paintings, I don’t see them as representations of unattainable landscapes. I see them as examples of ways to roam in a place of imagination. For me, they are a gateway toward finding happiness and peace in the midst of everyday life.” 

For the artist’s first exhibition in the United States, audiences will be introduced to two major motifs in his oeuvre – water and railroad tracks. Meng’s focus on water came about in the wake of his experience seeing the sand release process for the first time at Xiaolangdi Dam on the Yellow River in Henan Province. Meng describes this moment:

“The fast, flowing water was so full of sand that it appeared solid at times. The waves looked like mountains…When I am painting the waves, I feel as if I have entered a space where I can journey unimpeded from the valley to the peak of these ‘mountains,’ while still being in ‘water.’ So when I am painting the waves as mountains, I’m thinking about their arrangement. I’m also thinking about my loved ones. I’m thinking about water. It is all part of a process, a habit, and also a source of happiness for me.”

In addition to water, railroad tracks are a prominent motif in Meng’s work. As an adolescent, Meng’s family lived near a train station in Zhengzhou. The trains epitomized freedom and infinite possibility to Meng; in particular, the vanishing point at which the tracks disappear into the horizon has captivated the artist. Appearing endless, this imagery represents both a temptation and a torture to Meng that he continues to grapple with through painting. While the visual and practical significance of the train tracks were established in his youth, Meng did not fully comprehend their symbolic meaning until he moved to Berlin, where he enjoyed a degree of personal and political freedom previously unknown to him. Since this pivotal moment in his personal life, Meng has employed the visual of infinitely converging train tracks as a means of depicting freedom, and the lack thereof. 

Meng’s fascination with both motifs was twofold – not only the sublime visual, but also the historical and political context. The context serves as a critical undercurrent in Meng’s paintings, and is illustrative of the subtle critical reflection and analysis toward the current Chinese society and history that permeates his practice.

Qualia is proud to welcome Meng and his illustrious practice to the United States, and is eager to engage the community with Landscape and Shanshui.

About MENG Huang

Born in Beijing in 1966, Meng Huang is primarily a painter, but he also works in other media like photography and installation. His unique grasp of hue and his choice of theme, which has a rather realistic flavor, mirror the artist’s reflection and analysis on the state of contemporary Chinese society. Huang currently lives and works in Beijing and Berlin.

Huang has exhibited nationally and internationally in solo exhibitions at Kang Contemporary, Berlin, Germany; AMNUA, Nanjing, China; Kunst-Kollektiv, Berlin, Germany; WiE Kultur, Berlin, Germany; BizArt Art Center, Shanghai, China; China Art Archives & Warehouse (CAAW), Beijing, China. His major group exhibitions include New Gallery of Art, Shanghai, China; TAG Art Museum, Qingdao, China; Schütz Art Museum, Austria; Colchester & Ipswich Museums, England; Shanghai Himalayas Museum, Shanghai, China; Ke Art Museum, Shanghai, China; Hubei Museum of Art; Wuhan, China; UCCA, Beijing, China; Xi’An Museum of Contemporary Art, Xi’an, China; Swiss National Museum, Zurich, Switzerland; Museum Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden, Germany; Cucine ex Ospedale Psichiatrico, Pergine Valsugana, Italy; Situation Kunst, Bochum, Germany.

About Qualia Contemporary Art

Located in downtown Palo Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley, Qualia Contemporary Art is dedicated to showcasing outstanding established and emerging artists working in a variety of media. The gallery is committed to building lasting relationships with artists, collectors, curators, and scholars nationally and internationally, and providing a vital platform for dialogues on contemporary art and culture in the Bay Area and beyond.

New Location

229 Hamilton Ave

Palo Alto, CA 94301

Gallery Contact 

Dacia Xu


Media Contact

Lainya Magaña, A&O PR 



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