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A visit to the ceramic industrial artist Pi Xiangming in Tongcheng
http://English.xianning.gov.cn 11-08-23
 

  (www.xnnews.com.cn)

  On July 6th to 15th, the personal exhibition of art ceramics and traditional Chinese painting works held for the ninetieth anniversary of CPC founding and by Pi Xiangming, the ceramic industrial artist in Tongcheng. It attracted a lot of leaders of art field and art lovers to visit, and received a good reputation.

  Entering into the exhibition hall, and knowing that the exquisite art ceramics and traditional Chinese painting works in front of our eyes were created by an unknown woman, the reporter’s heart glowed. On 5th, August, reporters visited this folk female artist out of admiration.

  “Painting is my childhood dream.”

  Pi Xiangming came from a poor family. Her parents endured great suffering and hardships in order to support their brothers and sisters. After graduating from the technical secondary school, Pi Xiangming went to work in the factory with her elder sister. She worked 12 hours a day with an income of only 75 yuan per month. After working for over half a year, nineteen-year-old Pi Xiangming quitted her first job resolutely, because she didn’t want to let her youth be wasted in the busy factory. She had her own idea.

  Pi Xiangming has been fond of drawing since she was in primary school, and she liked to write down what she saw and thought of every day on the paper. The teacher also noticed little Xiangming’s talent on drawing, and he once found the father of Pi Xiangming and hoped to make drawing as the child’s specialty and trained her on it. “All the money paid for the child’s school was put together, and there is no spare money to pay for such unimportant thing.” the father of little Xiangming refused the teacher’s suggestion with gentle words, and said to little Xiangming in earnest: “you don’t study hard and draw such things everyday, but it can not be your meals. You mustn’t draw any more from now on.” Little Xiangming was full of grievances, but she could only hide her drawing pen and did some drawing at school secretly until she graduated from the technical secondary school.

  On June, 1990, Pi Xiangming who had quitted her first job heard that there were people starting the summer painting classes, so she readily took the money which she had collected for half a year to enter it, and she became the oldest and the most industrious student in the painting class. Since it was the first time for she to receive formal painting training in her life, she extremely cherished the opportunity that was not easy to get. Through half year’s industrious training, Xiangming acquired firm basic painting skills, and mastered painting techniques. At the same time, the news that Tongcheng ceramic institute was recruiting students occurred to Pi Xiangming. She was unable to suppress herself any longer and decided to enter it. “It seemed to be the arrangement of God, which pointed out a clear direction for me.” Pi Xiangming recalled later.

  However, it was hard to make the first step though she had found her life purpose. At that time, the entry fee of 700 yuan was equal to three years’ of living expenses for a family. When the entry deadline was coming, depressed Xiangming locked herself at home. She had no appetite for food and drinks and lost weight day after day, which made her mother’s heart ache. Finally, under the repeated implore of her mother, her father found ways to put together the entry fee and said to Xiangming: “The road is your own choice, so you must do it in real earnest and make something of it.”

  In the ceramic institute, Pi Xiangming began to learn the ceramic colored painting. Because she had firm painting skills, she got used to it very soon. Over a year passed, when she was indulged in the hall of industrial ceramic painting, a piece of shocking news that ceramic industry in Tongcheng was disintegrated occurred to her, and the ceramic institute was faced with being closed down. This was a piece of news no less than a bolt from the blue. And it made Pi Xiangming who had just seen the dawn of hope have to face the reality of losing her job. 

  Making ceramic arts was just like looking after kids

  God will open another door for you when he closes one door. Disappointed in career, Pi Xiangming came across a man with persistent feeling. Chi Hai, who was also studied in the ceramic institute, fell in love with her. They had the same pursuit for industrial ceramic and decided to confront the hardships together. They went into the marriage hand in hand and went to a industrial ceramic road that belonged to their own.

  With the support of her husband, Pi Xiangming was stronger than before, and became more resolute in her confidence of continuing the painting road. She went to Jingdezhen, the ceramic capital of China in Jiangxi Province, to seek for experience at her own expense, to make up for her deficiency in the making of industrial ceramic and learn more consummate skills and enhance his grade for ceramic colored painting arts. In the second half year of 1993, after coming back from Jingdezhen, Pi Xiangming began to open ceramic classes with her husband. And at the beginning of 1994, they signed a contract with the educational center in Tongcheng and set up “Jinfeng Ceramic School”. They combined ceramic painting with private education and tried a complete new private education model.

  In the eight years’ time, Pi Xiangming and her husband tried new ideas of running a school while making great efforts to explore ceramic colored painting arts. And they also imparted the techniques and experiences they had grasped to students. During this period, Pi Xiangming and her husband opened ceramic shops of “ceramic sea” as practice bases for students.

  “Making ceramic arts is just like looking after kids. The process from the initial choosing embryo, taking pictures, outlining with thick lines, painting colors, entering the oven, firing……To the final making of excellent ceramic artworks, is just like training your own children to adults. There is bitter in the process, but also a sense of achievement.”

  Making a ceramic art should go through at least more than ten processes, and some of them need to be painted repeatedly. Pi Xiangming said, “I am never mean with time spent on crafts.” She took out the product of Snowwolf and introduced to us that they had spent a month merely on painting the product---“to make the hairs on wolf looked having layers and tactile sensation, we can only paint it one layer at a time, and then another layer when the previous one has dried. We did so again and again, and the process was meticulous and complex and could fully test people’s will.”

  To paint Chibi well, she went to Chibi to see the great river rolling on personally. She took pictures and tried to figure it out again and again, and painted it on the proclaim embryo for 1000 times until finding the feeling of “the rolling Yangzte river ran to the east, the sprays dashed away all the heroes” at last. Chibi battlefield and Three kingdoms?Chibi, through these works condensed with painstaking efforts, as if we have seen the figure of Pi Xiangming who bent over the desk all night , plotted repeatedly and carefully did the painting……

  Yunxi Reservoir, Chibi, Wooden Fish Lake, and Hundred Pine Picture---Pi Xiangming’s painting was beautiful, and she depicted the scenery of her hometown to her heart’s content, which made people recollect the favor of it and chew it. Among her personal works, the traditional Chinese painting titled The Scenery of Silver-clad Hills used local materials and depicted the beautiful scenery of her hometown. The far and the near depended on each other, the void and the solid were combined together, thus made it really more beauty than it could take in.

  Feeling have got myself back

  As a woman, except the chores and the duty to care the family members, she had dug into painting with great concentration for nearly ten years, which was really praiseworthy. However, in 2002, just in the important period when Pi Xiangming’s dream would take off and she was seeking, her husband, who loved arts as much as her and had great aspirations, decided to set up Yucai Middle School in Tongcheng County. In order to support her husband’s career, she had to spend the time which she had spent on the creation of painting on the operation and management of the school. But she still didn’t stop painting during that period and was diligent in creation. A large amount of ceramic artworks such as “Taiyi Cave in Xianning”, “Lushui Lake”, “Jiugong Mountain”, “Chibi Battlefield” and “Tongcheng Wooden Fish Lake” she painted were very popular, and were regarded as gifts by the administrative department of province, city and county. But running and working for the administrative work of the school everyday, there was a sense of loss that Xiangming had never had before in her heart.

  In 2008, the Yucai Middle School she and her husband had set up was faced with development “bottleneck”. All kinds of pressure and public opinion came one after another, and different opinions appeared between Pi Xiangming and her husband, which made her depressed. Then, her friend suggested her picking up painting again and continuing her unfinished dream. She was awoken by the words. On May, 2010, she started to prepare her own work exhibition, and began to sort out her early accumulated works while creating new works day and night.

  Pi Xiangming reviewed and examined her early ceramic paintings again, summarized experiences from them and gradually improved her ceramic painting skills. In this process, Pi Xiangming’s heart which had been floated these years was placed. “I feel that I have got myself back. My true value can only be reflected on painting.” Pi Xiangming was very excited.

  On July, 2011, Pi Xiangming celebrated her personal work exhibition of industrial ceramic and traditional Chinese painting works in the ninetieth anniversary of CPC founding, revealing the color cloth and officially meeting with the audience. Art lovers in the whole county or even the whole city came to visit. They were excited about it and signed one after another: a housewife, a folk artist, was able to hold her personal work exhibition. It was really a miracle.

  “You can refine it only if you are specializing on it.” This was the truth Pi Xiangming figured out in her painting life. Pi Xiangming said that on her future road of industrial ceramic and painting, she still had a long way to go. She needed to further her study and research and absorb more new skills in order to further enhance her artist accomplishments and explore the style that really belonged to her own and look for the lost ceramic cultural traces of her hometown. (Written by Li Jia, Du Peiqing)


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