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24 February 2022, 09:32

A natural talent


BEIJING, 24 February (BelTA - China Daily) - Artist's works show his deep connection with the lifestyles and folk culture in Hunan, Lin Qi reports.

The diverse folklore and ethnic cultural traditions in his native Hunan province, Central China, have long been a source of inspiration for Fu Zhenxin, an ink painter, printmaker and designer. His art, marked with strong colors, often depicts animated ethnic customs and is exuberant with natural vitality.

"I'm from the countryside. What I make is of an intense country flavor," Fu, 80, has often said.

According to those who have known Fu for years, his beginnings as a devoted grassroots painter and connections with his cultural roots are the main reasons why his artworks create resonance among viewers.

Dai Daquan, an eminent print artist who has known Fu for three decades, says Fu's "country-flavored works" of enduring charm will stand the test of time.

"He never forgets his roots in Hunan, whatever medium or style he experiments with. His works are down-to-earth yet deliver a modern feeling," Dai says.

One can't agree more with Dai while entering a hall at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, where Homeplace Feelings, Countryside Flavors, an exhibition of Fu's works, is running through March 2.There are about 60 prints, colored ink paintings and bookplate designs of Fu on show.

The exhibition is a celebration of Hunan's rich folk culture that Fu explores. The subjects in his works include festive and marital customs practiced in ethnic villages. For example, one woodblock exhibit shows women throwing mud on a male matchmaker in a Yao village, and another shows young people in Miao villages enjoying mud-throwing competitions, a popular event held in the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar. Miao and Yao communities live in the province and view mud as auspicious and sacred.

As viewers navigate Fu's other works on show, they will find that a transition in the composition is evident. The artist gradually reduces details to employ a semiabstract style, and the primitive atmosphere in his earlier works gives away to a more experimental, contemporary tendency in his later works.

But no matter which direction he ventures toward, Fu spares no effort in showcasing his passion for Tantou colored woodblock pictures, an intangible cultural heritage, which once thrived in Tantou, Hunan, reputed for a vibrant palette, lively details and wild imagination.

Fu adopts the woodblock techniques and uses the distinctive materials produced at woodblock workshops in Tantou to create his prints. He is also considered a cultural ambassador of Tantou art.

Fu says: "I am lucky to be nurtured by the expansive culture of Hunan and able to ground my art in the magical world of Tantou. The landscapes there are the roots of my life, the woodblocks are where the soul of my art lies, and the industrious people keep supporting me."

According to Dai, Hunan's folk culture is an "infinite spring" for Fu's work and the materials he gets from there enable him to build an "atmospheric stage" on which Fu revives folklore in new ways.

Fu also "pays back" to the people of his hometown through his art.

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