PhD student wins prestigious art award for emotional portrait


A STUDENT is celebrating after winning £5,000 prize for his  intimate painting imagining a conversation between the artist and his late father.

Li Huang, a PhD student  won the £5,000 first prize in the  Scottish Portrait Award for Fine Art.

Li 49, is in the first year of his PhD research at the University of Dundee, where he also obtained his undergraduate and Masters degrees.

Li Huang's portrait - Art News Scotland
Li Huang’s portrait of him having a conversation with his late father.

Li has been selected for the Scottish Portrait Awards three years in a row. Last year, his painting of his mother, entitled ‘Kinship’, won third prize.

His 2020 entry, ‘Between This World and the World Beyond’ is a double self-portrait representing a conversation between Li and his father and the competition judges awarded him first prize, noting the quality of the painting, its depth of emotion and the hints of an imagined language in the background.

Li has drawn his whole life, but wasn’t introduced to painting until he began studying art at Glasgow Kelvin College seven years ago.

Previously, he had worked as a chef, for a trading company, and in various other jobs before deciding the time was right to pursue his passion.

Li said:“Drawing was just a hobby for me, and it wasn’t until I went to college that I started to experiment with other forms of art,”

“I fell in love with portraiture and the way it allows you to explore people’s emotions.

“I have now been working with it for seven years through college, University, my Masters and now onto my PhD, where I explore the dimension of the spirit in portrait painting.

“I was born in China and lived in Glasgow for many years before moving to Dundee.

“My research examines elements from Chinese culture but Scotland has greatly influenced my work because I got my art education here.

“I like to look at the differences and similarities in portraiture between the east and west.

“I am absolutely delighted to win the Scottish Portrait Awards. It is a major accolade for any artist, and the prize is a big boost for me.

“My mother still lives in China and the distance between us has been hard this year, but we speak on the telephone regularly and part of my research for this work involved interviewing her about my father so that worked out well.”