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May 18, 2019

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If you love to paint, it must be with Marie’s

Even for those who are not involved in art, Marie’s is a household name. The logo — one black horse head and one white horse head in profile — is deeply rooted in the minds of generations of Chinese.

Marie’s is a century-old domestic paint brand, closely linked with China’s first watercolor paint, first oil paint, first crayon, first acrylic and ink-wash paint.

The Marie’s Art Factory was established in 1919 in Shanghai by 10 artists, educationists and entrepreneurs, and became known as the Shanghai Artist Color Factory in 1958.

Chen Yifei (1946-2005), one of China’s best-known artists, once said: “The development of Marie’s is actually an indispensable part in China’s modern art history.”

Last week, Marie’s celebrated its 100th anniversary.

“In my eyes, Marie’s is a brand that not only produces various paints, but has also created a distinct human spirit in the past century,” said Xu Wenfu, the general manager at Shanghai SIIC Marie Painting Materials Co Ltd.

Xu still recalls a “confidential mission” he received from Beijing in 1999.

“That year happened to be the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and the administrative office of Tian’anmen Square wanted to use Marie’s paints for a new portrait of Chairman Mao displayed at Tian’anmen Square.”

Breaking the original recipe system at that time, Xu and his team referred to Pantone to develop a new high-quality series as professional artist paints on a tight schedule.

“We were so excited that Marie’s paints were well received by Ge Xiaoguang, the artist who drew the portrait of Chairman Mao, which was a special honor for the people of Marie’s.”

“Marie’s is now 100 years old. When I was a little boy, I already knew this brand,” said 83-year-old Han Meilin, a contemporary Chinese artist known both for his paintings and sculptures of animals.

Han is best known for the creation of Fuwa (good-luck dolls) mascots for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.

Early in 2004, Han wrote a letter to Marie’s, asking if it could produce a new ink-wash paint with better blending, as the current paints were far from satisfactory.

Han’s requirement was finally fulfilled after three years of experiments by a team of engineers at Marie’s.

“I was asked to test the new ink-wash paints more than 10 times,” Han recalls. “Each time, I would write my comments on the rice-paper, such as pass, fail or good.

“I felt quite relieved that all my comments were finally taken into careful consideration.”

At the anniversary party, Han donated one horse sculpture he especially created for the 100h anniversary to Marie’s.

“Several generation of Chinese artists have shown their preference for Marie’s paints, and Marie’s always respects each of them,” said Xu.

At the anniversary party, a group of veteran artists including Han, Chen Jialing, Yu Xiaofu and Lu Zhiping were also awarded the Marie’s Friends Prize.

Marie’s has an even bigger dream to realize in the next 100 years.

Occupying 2,000 square meters, the Marie’s Cultural Garden (Phase I), renovated old warehouses, has been open to the public since May 5.

The garden, including Marie’s Art Museum and Marie’s Research Room of History and Culture, will be a platform of exhibition, creation, art education and recreation, Xu said.

“Over the past century, Marie’s never stops developing new paint products,” Xu said.

“From a small private company to a big joint venture, from tradition to modern, today the sales and turnover of Marie’s become one of the largest among paint factories in China.

“Marie’s is also well recognized by the European and US markets.

“Today, our products have reached nearly 60 countries and regions around the world. We are confident that Marie’s will dazzle the world with more China-made paints in the future.”


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