Huang Yao



The work of modern Asian ink artist Huang Yao is one of man’s extraordinary exploration of ink and is a testament to his love of culture and his motherland. His trademark lively brush strokes are evident throughout his diverse collection of works: from cartoons to traditional Chinese genres; weaving through the upside-down calligraphy “chuyunshu,” to his modern calligraphy of ancient Chinese characters “wenzihua,” and finally encompassing abstract works that rival those of his western counterparts.


During his burgeoning career as a journalist, Huang Yao’s early schooling in Chinese calligraphy (taught by his literati father), painting, history, literature, philology, and philosophy was put to the test when he decided to create a cartoon character with ink and brush. In the creation of his famous cartoon “Niubizi,” he used contemporary art techniques familiar today to express the social realities of his time. To enhance his cartoon, Huang Yao developed a suitable childlike script to accompany Niubizi, which marks the start of using “chuyunshu” in his career. During the war in mainland China, Huang endured a journey through many cities. His travels led him to Vietnam, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, and finally Malaysia. His scholarly side was drawn out in these foreign surroundings, and he was able to wield his brush to expand the boundaries of ink.


After Huang passed away in 1987, his family decided to set up the Huang Yao Foundation and later a studio (in 2001) for researching, collating and documenting the collection of artworks that he left behind. From his paintings, cartoons, sketches and written works, we can realize the depth of his incredible life's work, personal values, and devotion to China. 

1917    Born in Shanghai
1933    Worked for Shanghai Post, Shanghai, China
1934    Started the creation of Niubizi cartoons
Journalist at the Shanghai Post, Shanghai, China
1935    Art editor of Shanghai Post, Shanghai, China
1937    Lived in Ningbo, Nanjing, Hankou, China
1938    Moved to Chongqing, China
1942    Lived in Guiyang, Guilin, Liuzhou, China
Guiyang City Government acquired the manuscript of Guiyang Cartoon
Married Zheng Baolin in December
1944    Lived in Guiyang, Kunming, his son Huang Yan was born in Guiyang
1945    Lived in Chongqing, Luzhou, China
1945-46     Lived in Kunming, China; Haiphong, Vietnam
1947    Lived in Kunming, Guangzhou, Hong Kong
1951    Started scholar period
Lived in Bangkok, Thailand
1956    Moved to Singapore; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
1959    Senior teacher, Han Jiang High School, Penang, Malaysia
1960    Travelled Malaysia extensively for his scholarly book The History of Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore
Researched ancient Chinese characters
1962    Headmaster, Xin Min High School, Alor Setar, Malaysia
1967    Published The History of Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore
1973    Started to be a painter
Retired and lived in Penang, Malaysia
1978    Moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and lived with his son’s family
1973-87    Creation of “Wenzhihua” (paintings of Chinese characters), “Ziyouhua” (Contemporary abstract paintings), “Chuyunshu” (Calligraphy with or without picture as background), traditional and innovative landscape paintings, figure paintings including scrolls of 100 children at play, Goddess of Mercy, God of Longevity, folk culture figures, important figures in Tao, Zen and Buddhism
1987    Passed away in Malaysia



  • Huang Yao: Malaya’s Remarkable Guest, National Visual Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


  • Huang Yao, Jiashan Government Exhibition Hall, Jiashan, China


  • Rediscovered Talent: Huang Yao, Cartoonist, Scholar, Painter, Shanghai Art Museum, China Art Museum, Shanghai, China


  • Exhibition in Commemoration of Huang Yao, Soka Gakkai, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 


  • Huang Yao Retrospective, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore


  • Huang Yao’s Calligraphy and Paintings, Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


  • Huang Yao Retrospective, Malaysian Institute of Art, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Huang Yao’s Calligraphy and Painting, Art House Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


  • Huang Yao: Painting on Pottery, Association of Chung Hwa High School (Seremban) Alumni, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


  • Huang Yao’s Calligraphy and Paintings, Malaysian Writers Association for Scholarship Funds, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 


  • Huang Yao’s Art, Bethlehem Lions Club, USA


  • Huang Yao’s Art, Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Folklore: Calligraphy and Art, Art House Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


  • Huang Yao: Exhibition of Eastern Paintings, East & West Art, Melbourne, Australia


  • Huang Yao Painting Exhibition, Ipoh, Malaysia


  • Calligraphy and Art, Sanjiang Association, Singapore 


  • Niubizi Education Cartoons, Merdeka Trade Fair, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia 


  • Niubizi Education Cartoon Exhibition, Chin Wu Stadium, Kuala Lumpur, Malaya
  • Huang Yao: Cartoons, Calligraphy, Paintings, Organised by the China Society, British Council, Singapore. All proceeds from the sale were donated to the Singapore Overseas Chinese Creche


  • Niubizi in Hong Kong and Words of a Child, Hong Kong


  • The Contradiction Collection and the Vietnamese Scenes, Guangzhou Restaurant, Guangzhou, China
  • The Contradiction Collection and the Vietnamese Scenes, Zhongshan Library, Guangzhou, China
  • The Contradiction Collection and the Vietnamese Scenes, Junri Building, Xingwen Bank, Kunming, China


  • Kunming in Cartoons, Guilin in Cartoons and Others, Guiyang, China 
  • Chinese People in Wartime, YMCA, Kunming, China. Proceeds to build Wu Hua Middle School Dormitory
  • Kunming in Cartoons and Guilin in Cartoons, Provincial Party Headquarters, Kunming, China. Sponsored by Returned Veterans of Overseas Wars
  • Huang Yao Exhibition, Guilin Archives, Guilin, China


  • Plum Blossoms by Huang Yao with 20 poems inscribed by Liu Yazi, Guilin, China 
  • Chongqing in Cartoons, Guiyang in Cartoons, Guilin in Cartoons, The Secondary Capital in Cartoons, City Party Headquarters, Guilin, China. Proceeds for the maintenance of orphanages


  • Guiyang in Cartoons, Scenes of Guizhou, Guiyang, China. Proceeds donated for the city’s art and culture fund 
  • Chinese People in Wartime, Guiyang, China. Proceeds donated to the homeless
  • 100 Longevity Deities, Guiyang, China


  • Niubizi Digging War Trenches, a play by An Er, China


  • Niubizi Resisting the Enemy Cartoon Exhibition, Chongqing, China




  • Radio Malaya: Abridged Conversations about Art, National University of Singapore, Singapore


  • Permanent Exhibit at Asia Comic Cultural Museum, Penang, Malaysia
  • Speech Bubble Comics Exhibition, National Library of Singapore, Singapore
  • Manhua+Manga, University of Maryland Gallery, Maryland, USA


  • The Art of Influence: Asian Propaganda, British Museum, London, UK
  • Exploring the Cosmos, Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore
  • Chinese Comic Exhibition, Chinese Comic Gallery, Shanghai, China


  • An Exhibition of Dragons, National Museum of Natural Science, Taichung, Taiwan
  • Contemporary Chinese Art from the Khoan and Michael Sullivan Collection, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK


  • Permanent Exhibition, Shanghai Animation and Comics Museum, Shanghai, China 


  • An Exhibition in Memory of Malaysia’s Late Calligraphers and Artists, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 


  • Nokia Art Singapore 2002, Calligraphy House, Singapore
  • The Manuscript and Pictorial Exhibition on Chinese Authors in Early Singapore, Singapore National Library, Singapore


  • Spring Exhibition, Rico Décor of art, Le Beaux Art Gallery, Creative Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 


  • International Calligraphy Exhibition, Seoul, Korea
  • Exhibition of Klang Valley Ink Painting Association, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia              
  • Live Calligraphy performances for the Lim Lian Yu Fund, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


  • Exhibition of Calligraphy and Paintings by Friends of the Pei Foong School, Chin Woo Stadium, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


  • International Calligraphy and Painting Exhibition, Tokyo, Japan 
  • International Calligraphy and Painting Exhibition, National Museum, Singapore
  • International Calligraphy and Painting Exhibition, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


  • Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy Exhibition, Huang Tai Chi Association, Sabah, Malaysia


  • Exhibition of Famous Contemporary Ink Artists, The Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, Singapore
  • Calligraphy and Paintings by Malaysian Chinese Artists, Nanyang Siang Pao, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


  • Joint Exhibition, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong 
  • Three Friends, Calligraphy and Painting Exhibition, National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan


  • Ten Friends Calligraphy and Painting Exhibition, Hong Kong 


  • Calligraphy Exhibition and Sales in aid of the Yeongdong Famine, Guangxi, China 
  • The Yaoshan Travel Sketches Exhibition, Guilin, China


  • Travelling Exhibition of Niubizi, by Shanghai Children’s National Salvation Association, Russia; Chongqing, Hankou, Shanghai, China 


  • The First National (China) Cartoon Exhibition, Shanghai, China


British Museum, London, UK
The Khoan and Michael Sullivan Collection, Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford, UK
National Gallery Singapore, Singapore
National University of Singapore Museum, Singapore
Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation, Singapore
National Visual Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Malayan Banking Berhad, Malaysia
Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China
Guiyang City Government, China
National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan