Huxxian County

The art institute in Huxxian County is housed in an austere, concrete two-story building surrounding by a tall iron fence in a very remote part of mainland China. About three hours outside of Xian, the building has the ominous atmosphere of communist government buildings, a sharp contrast to the beautiful work created inside. The building is laid-out like a museum, although very unadorned by U.S. standards, with paintings hanging on the gray walls. The painting studios are in large, open rooms in the rear of the building.

Generally, paintings in Huxxian County are pieces that focus on subjects of work and commerce and are often proudly symbolic of the modern changes brought by the Cultural Revolution. As compared to the Jinshan paintings, the pictures are more sophisticated in the use of perspective and dimension. Composition tends to be complex, with many figurative elements that are quite literal in their depiction of life.

Harvest Good examples of this style are found in "Harvest". In this painting, the process of picking cotton on one side of the river and picking apples on the other are depicted in convincing detail. Power lines are also captured in the shot -- a reminder of the industrialization of China.


"Marketplace" shows a large, busy marketplace. The uniformity of the characters clothing reminds us of the cultural standards set by the Cultural Revolution. The bustle is evident with the action flowing in and out of the market perimeter.


Still among the Huxxian County paintings, are some interesting contrasts painted by one of their most successful contemporary artists, who is also an art teacher in the artist colony. Both of the paintings in our collection have a woodcut type style, even though they are actually brush paintings. While we have no information about the artist's training or identity, there appears to be strong influences in his paintings from other cultures — an attribute that is rare in Chinese Naive Art.

Women Washing Their Hair In "Women Washing Their Hair" the artist uses repetitive compositional elements and color palette with a quasi-cubist type design. The rhythm of the water flowing through the center of the painting creates a sense of peace and beauty in scene.


The same artist also painted "Dragon Fights". In this colorful, large-scale painting, the artist experimented with stencils made from sponges to create the on-looking crowds. The effect is very interesting, as the sponged faces provide a sense of commonality among the masses, yet each character has been given a sense of individuality through the use of other elements. While the central activity in the painting — a dragon fight — is clearly from the Chinese culture, the faces, clothing and hair styles of the audience appear to be from a different culture.

Dragon Fights

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