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July 31, 2021

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Young artist paints Kashgar in bold colors

To many locals of Kashgar in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the ancient city has always been dull yellowish-brown due to the dominant color of dwellings. But to 25-year-old Mamattursunjian Mamatimen, the city that ignited his art dream is fairly colorful.

Born and raised in Kashgar, Mamattursunjian started to paint by following in the footsteps of the locally-renowned painters at the age of 10.

“As a child, the monochrome scenes impressed me a lot, and I found no other way but to illustrate the city in a single color, a style prevailing in the local painting community,” he said.

Dirty and messy, the ancient city of Kashgar used to be an unpleasant place for both residents and tourists owing to lack of water pipes, power grid and other infrastructure.

A renovation project with an investment exceeding 7 billion yuan (US$1.1 billion) was launched in 2010 and completed in five years, giving the ancient city a vibrant new look.

That’s why when Mamattursunjian stopped by an alley one day and tried to sketch it, he suddenly realized that the seemingly unchanging city had changed, and so did his painting style.

“Thanks to the renovation, Kashgar has become tidier and much more attractive and a growing number of youngsters are coming here,” he said, adding that the substantial changes in the city landscape stimulated him to think out of the box and explore more possibilities in art.

In 2019, Mamattursunjian embarked on an art tour that took him to the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes in Gansu Province, the 798 Art District and Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, and the Bund in Shanghai.

“A professor with Central Academy of Fine Arts told me that the color and structure of the ancient city-themed paintings had never changed since the 1970s, and that it was time for us young painters to make a difference,” he recalled.

In the same year, he embraced his transitional period of artistic creation, when he painted “Ushering In A New Era,” a work blending the ancient city and modern buildings into one.

“Just like in those big cities in China, ancient and modern elements are perfectly combined in Kashgar today,” he said. “I changed my way of painting because I am eager to present its real look.”

Afterward, the young man made even bolder moves in reforming the traditional color adopted by his predecessors.

“Scarlet, pink, purple, blue and other visually intriguing colors are uncommon in street-view paintings of Kashgar yet vividly reflect the aesthetic preference of today’s youngsters and how they connect themselves to ancient history,” he explained.

“A young artist from Yunnan Province came by the other day and told me that my works were just unique and impressed him the most after visiting all galleries on the street,” Mamattursunjian said proudly.

Mamattursunjian runs a gallery and is now also receiving growing attention from young people as he posts videos on Weibo, Douyin and other social media platforms to promote his paintings.

“I really hope that my works can serve as a bridge attracting more youngsters here to appreciate the beauty of Kashgar with their own eyes,” he said.


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