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January 17, 2011

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From murals to animation

ARTIST Ye Linghan has a one-meter-long boa constrictor for a companion. "Why? I always feel that a snake exists in my spiritual world for a reason I cannot explain," says the painter and animator.

Born in 1985, Ye graduated from the mural painting department at the China Academy of Arts in Hangzhou, capital city of Zhejiang Province, though he says he was misled into thinking that this department also included canvas, sculpture and glass art.

Now he is engaged in experimental animation films.

"I can support myself. It's clearly impossible to survive by making experimental animation so sometimes I paint murals," he says. He just completed a mural featuring naked females for an entertainment center in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province.

"I need the bread," he explains.

Ye has completed six experimental animation films, varied in style, visual language and angle.

"One Part of A Narrative Film" depicts the slow process of destruction - by suspended swinging blades or scythes - of items scattered on a tabletop, including a human skull, a small dinosaur skeleton and golf club.

"If you take a close look, you will find the arrangement of objects is like that in a classical tableau," he says. "It's about the passage of time and the destruction of all things."

Another film is based on the 1940s film "Spring in a Small Town" directed by Fei Mu and considered one of the 10 classic films in China's modern film history. It's one of Ye's favorites.

The seven-minute black-and-white film purposely blurs the individual characters by focusing on the surroundings.

"(Director) Fei Mu is a genius. He was so keen on every scene, making it perfect like a painting," Ye explains. "Today there is almost no Chinese director who could achieve what he did."

Ye rents a 20-square-meter studio in Hangzhou and hasn't signed with a gallery, though he says several are interested in working with him.

He says working with a big gallery would be uncomfortable since typically most support goes to big names and rising stars, leaving little room for newcomers.

Unlike his teacher, Sun Xun, one of the big names in experimental animation, Ye says he is exploring possibilities and hasn't settled on a consistent style.

"But I am not worried because I'm talented," he says. "I knew this from the time when I was a small boy."


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