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Brushes with rural childhood brings countryside into view

By ZHANG KUN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-03-01 07:50

Jinshan folk artist Chen Huifang works on her new illustrated book Golden Childhood.[Photo/CHINA DAILY]

Golden Childhood, an illustrated book about a Shanghai folk art form, will be published by UK-based Balestier Press. With 21 paintings by Chen Huifang, a folk artist from the city's Jinshan district, the book vividly portrays idyllic scenes of rural life in China.

A Shanghai folk tradition that originated in the embroidery and stove paintings of South China, the paintings of the rural residents of Jinshan district are known for their artistic exaggeration and intense color contrasts, which capture the essence of the customs and landscapes of the southern Yangtze River Delta regions.

Born in Shanghai in 1970, Chen learned to paint from her father, Chen Fulin, who pioneered Jinshan folk painting.

During her 30-year career as a professional artist, Chen Huifang has produced more than 400 paintings, many of which have received awards at national art exhibitions and have been featured in the Chinese media. Her acclaimed piece, Jiangnan Village received the highest award at the Chinese Farmer Painting Excellent Works Exhibition.

"I'd expect to be invited to publish this book by a foreign publisher. When I showed my works in the United Kingdom, Austria and Estonia before at solo exhibitions and cultural exchange events, my folk paintings already attracted many viewers," she says.

It was a casual meeting with author Shen Yang that led to the idea for the book.

During the Lunar New Year celebrations in 2021, Shen visited Chen Huifang's studio in Jinshan for the first time. Captivated by the scenes depicted in the paintings, she decided to collaborate with Chen Huifang to convey personal stories through illustrations.

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