Using the present to preserve the past

Updated: 2014-12-02 08:18

By Peng Yining(China Daily)

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First person/Xiao Xu, 32

The professional artist

In the county where I grew up, there were a lot of craftsmen. Many of them were farmers who traveled around the local villages looking for work during the slack season. When I was 16, a man came to our house to help us paint a wooden closet. It took him two weeks to finish the job. I watched him painting, sketching and drawing on the closet, and was impressed by his patience and the beauty of traditional Chinese painting.

He painted mountains, rivers and ancient beauties, the commonest themes in Chinese painting. But he painted so carefully that it was like he was pouring his emotions and life into the work.

It was snowing outside, but very warm in the house. I watched him working by the fireplace and was deeply moved. That man was an artist. I have been interested in the arts since I was a little boy, but that scene was definitely one of the most touching moments in my art career.

Sadly, people no longer make things themselves, and the beautiful techniques are disappearing. The reason I chose to draw and design masks for Shanxi Opera was that I didn't want the art form to die with the older generation.

I display my masks in my studio and visitors come to see them. I didn't trust the Internet before because information online is often incomplete and unverified, but now I realize that I can introduce my work to many more people online than in any other way.


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