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April 3, 2010

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Home » Feature » Art and Culture

International acclaim for folk paintings

THE China Farmers' Painting Exhibition, recently initiated in Fengjing Town, Jinshan District, aims to preserve and promote the traditional Chinese folk art. The show is on until May 15.

During the exhibition, farmers, professionals and amateurs can send their paintings to the committee by uploading their works to Winners voted by online clicks and judged by experts can get free admission tickets to the World Expo Shanghai which opens on May 1.

Jinshan District in Shanghai, Luxian County in Shanxi Province, Dongfeng in Jilin Province, Huangzhong in Qinghai Province and Qijiang in Chongqing Municipality are the five places in China that boast this particular style of farmer painting.

It is art derived from the soil, depicting the real life of the country's rural villages and farmers, and showing their strong love of life, of children, of festivals, of animals, of work and chores.

Jinshan is unusual in that it is part of a busy, modern city.

But the folk art is a hobby for many local people. From their unique paintings, one can feel the pure and fresh smell of the soil of the countryside.

Almost all of the Jinshan District's farmers are painters, and range in age from 10 to 70.

In the 1970s, some farmers in Zhonghong Village, its birthplace, tried to combine techniques from traditional Chinese folk arts, such as paper-cutting, paper-folding, wood-carving, dyeing and embroidery that heavily influenced the style of painting, thus creating the unique art form.

Most of these first painters were older women skilled in various folk arts that had been passed down through generations.

Village life -- celebrations, ceremonies, snow scenes and farming -- are all popular themes. In 1980, several villagers launched a Shanghai Jinshan Farmers' Painting Exhibition in the China Art Gallery in Beijing and this was very warmly received.

In the same year, the art form stepped onto the international arena. Shows were held in the United States, Germany, Japan and many other countries and farmer's art was crowned "the best Chinese folk art."

Jinshan farmer artists normally use tempera paint mixed with chalk on rice paper, all of them cheap and practical painting tools. The paintings are then attached to heavier paper.

Another feature of the folk art is that the painters like to use a wide range of bold, bright colors and spread them throughout the paintings, just like children's paintings -- vivid, easy to understand and full of imagination.

Spatial reality and perspective are unimportant. Figures and objects are usually drawn in a way that looks childlike. Taken together, these elements give the paintings a charming, primitive style.

In 2008, Zhonghong Village was named the "Village of China Farmers' Painting," attracting farmer artists from 10 provinces to settle to showcase different traditions and customs in China's rural places.


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