Jinshan's finest produce

Updated: 2016-01-23 00:00

By zhang kun in Shanghai(China Daily USA)

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Jinshan's finest produce

Yan Junjie and his wife, Qiu Jianguo are representative young artists in Jinshan. Peasant art is known for its vibrant colors and depiction of traditional Chinese culture and values. PHOTOS BY GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

He said that peasant art is so popular these days that outstanding artists from Jinshan and their works are often introduced to celebrities from home and abroad. Such paintings have also been popular with international collectors too, as Chen said they offer a completely different alternative to the art that people are normally familiar with.

"Peasant art mostly comprise bright colors and depict joyful atmospheres, so they are quite appropriate for the New Year," said Lu Xing, a spokesperson of the museum, who added that peasant paintings from Jinshan featuring the horoscope animal of the year have been a regular fixture at their Chinese New Year exhibitions every year since 2004.

Blending modernity with tradition

Today, peasant artists from the younger generation are seemingly looking to infuse contemporary elements into this traditional art form. Qiu Jianguo, one of the more successful peasant artists who runs his own studio in Zhujing town in Jinshan, has created pieces illustrating the urban landscape of Lujiazui, as well as the contrast of old buildings and new skyscrapers along the Huangpu River.

Qiu is also experimenting with the pointillism technique, the method of creating images using distinct dots of different colors. Qiu said he was inspired by Vincent Van Gogh, and this is just one of many styles he plans to attempt.

Meanwhile, Yan has turned to the root of peasant art for inspiration. One of his signature series involves the Chinese horoscope animals. While his use of lines and shading shares much in common with paper-cutting, the colors and compositions are much like those found in traditional blue-print cloth.

Besides painting on paper, artists like Qiu and Chen are also producing art works on ceramic plates. In the village of Shantang, located in Jinshan district's Langxia town, this new form of peasant art is thriving. Liu Jian, a potter from Longquan, a town in Zhejiang province famous for its ancient green porcelain art, has brought his ceramic studio to Shantang to capitalize on the boom. Liu uses a refurbished old school house as a showroom for his porcelain works.

Chen will often lead visitors to this school house before sharing with them the development plans and culture of Jinshan — which is also home to an industrial zone — over a cup of tea.

"We are hosting our first marathon event in the coming spring. Athletes will be running along roads lined with beautiful trees," said Chen.

Some of the activities that visitors from downtown Shanghai can currently do in Jinshan is picking strawberries and enjoying local food that is cooked using old-style stoves that require firewood.

Chen added that the residents are hoping the government will develop Jinshan as a cultural enclave filled with flower farms and orchard gardens, though he conceded that one of the challenges faced by Jinshan now is the lack of tourist accommodation.

"We're going to need nice hotels or bed and breakfast services. This is a nice vacation spot that's only a 40-minute drive from downtown Shanghai," said Chen.

"We'd also like to see people come and buy a holiday home here. Then for the rest of the year, the home can be leased as a B&B business. It's a good investment."