The story appears on

Page B3

January 20, 2012

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » People

Actress turns to abstract art

ZHENG Rongrong enjoyed a successful career as a film and television actress, but to most people's surprise, she changed careers and today is a successful abstract artist. She also runs a couple of businesses and cultural projects.

Multitalented and innovative, she gave up the kind of career in entertainment that many young women crave and turned to painting, porcelain and mixed media. She recently held a solo show in Shanghai and will hold shows in England and Germany this year.

When asked why she gave up acting, Zheng said, "Painting has always been my hobby since I was a little girl. The art flame never faded, even during my days of acting."

The Shanghai native was among the first students attending the Xie Jin Film and Television College established by famous director Xie Jin who cultivates star talent.

After 10 years of acting, she turned to another art, painting.

"Although acting was very interesting, I never stopped painting in those days. It was time for me to concentrate on painting," she said in an interview at her recent solo show of painting and porcelain.

"Compared to acting, painting is very independent - as an actor, I needed to communicate with the director, the screenwriter, actors and other staff, but in the world of painting, I am a director, a screenwriter and actress simultaneously."

While turning to art was a deliberate decision, Zheng's interest in abstract painting came about by coincidence. One night she spilled paints on a piece of fabric and planned to clean the mess up in the morning. But in sunlight the painted fabric was arresting; friends and experts praised it.

Thus began her journey into the Western modern art. She learned from local masters, read books, and visited galleries around the world.

"I can't remember how many times I have been in Paris to visit art galleries, not for luxury shopping or sightseeing. Many masterpieces are hidden in dim streets and I spent days exploring," she said.

She held her first solo show in 2009 and was praised as a "talented beauty" - emphasizing a woman's beauty is typically Chinese.

"I'm just a beginner in art. The compliment was a nice gesture to encourage me to stick to this career," she said modestly.

During her exhibition, she nervously listened to viewers' comments. To her surprise, most people grasped what she was trying to do and said they could feel a mountain, a river or starry sky, though they didn't understand all the colors.

"Everyone has his own ideas on painting. Abstraction is based on concrete objects. Different opinions are good inspirations for me."

Zheng spends most of her time exploring the possibilities of paint, fabrics and brush techniques, as well as other materials.

"I even tried using jewels, spreading them on the fabric, both on the surface and hidden in the paint."

In her recent joint exhibition with Jiangxi-based artist Xiong Jun, Zheng combined abstract painting and traditional Chinese porcelain. At famous workshops in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province, she poured paint on porcelain and fired it - beginning with broken pieces until she perfected techniques and kiln use.

"It was extraordinarily interesting, despite all the failures, so I worked every day until late at night. Finally, we made it."

One expert called her work "breathtakingly bright and gorgeous."

In addition to painting, Zheng is also involved in art investment and art salon management.

"I'm ashamed I have to run a business," she laughed, "but it's also important for me to understand the market and art world - though it conflicts with my painting."

Acting has helped her to multi-task. "As an actor you have to jump into the scene and act from the bottom of your heart even with thousands of people staring at you. That trained me how to concentrate even in an impossible environment."

She doesn't paint in an isolated studio but in her various work spaces and sketches throughout the day in breaks with her other work.

"Painting is already rooted in my heart," she said. "I get quite anxious if I haven't painted for a day."

Next year, Zheng plans to study art in France. "I know I still have a lot to learn and I have to concentrate on it for the rest of my life, since this is what I really want to do," she said. "I hope more people will come to love abstract painting."


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend