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January 6, 2010

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Tiger paintings burning bright

AS the Chinese Year of the Tiger approaches, the many facets of that fabled and powerful beast are featured in a solo exhibit by the "father of the tiger" painter at Shanghai Library.

The popular solo exhibition by A Xin, organized by Shanghai Library and Citibank China, features 45 ink-wash paintings of tigers in many poses and in many environments, from cute cubs to ferocious hunters. He captures the smallest detail, the swishing of the tail, twitching of a whisker, the bristling of fur as the animals crouch, spring, stalk or play.

The tigers are vividly and intricately rendered, combining traditional implications of the tiger with solid realism. The Year of the Tiger begins on February 14.

For decades A Xin has been painting tigers and nothing but.

"When I was a little kid, a friend of my father's sent me a painting of small tigers as a gift," he says. "Ever since then, I could never forget them.

"I never treat tigers merely as animals," says the artist. "They have their own feelings, their own life and world that we human beings cannot easily understand."

A Xin frequently goes to the zoo to observe and paint, and he has done so since he was a boy.

"I can sit there, observing each movement of the tiger and sketching for a whole day," he says.

To him the widely feared animal is more like a "different kind of friend."

His passion for tigers even moved the former director of the zoo park to grant the artist special access and privileges.

He is allowed to paint in front of the tiger enclosure and is notified when a cub is born.

"I am really anticipating the Year of the Tiger. I'm honored that I can present my artwork and love of tigers to more people," he says.

Many people ask A Xin whether he will someday switch to another subject.

"My answer is 'no,' because I can only paint tigers, and nothing else," he replies.

Date: through January 10, 9am-4pm

Venue: Shanghai Library, 1555 Huaihai Rd M.


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