|Many ancient buildings and residents' old houses, whose doors, windows, pillars, beams and walls are decorated with magnificent, colorful paintings. Given their high practical and decorative value, the paintings represent the treasures of China's folk art. [Tuchong]|
If you visit Jieyang, a city in South China's Guangdong Province, you will surely be impressed by the many ancient buildings and residents' old houses, whose doors, windows, pillars, beams and walls are decorated with magnificent, colorful paintings. Given their high practical and decorative value, the paintings represent the treasures of China's folk art. In 2013, Guangdong added Jieyang's craft of creating colorful paintings (used to decorate buildings and furniture) to the list of the province's items of intangible cultural heritage.
During the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), Jieyang's craftspeople began creating colorful paintings to decorate residents' wooden houses. While creating the paintings, various skills, including those used to make traditional Chinese sculptures and lacquer paintings, are applied. The craft entered its golden age during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.
During the dynasties, refined paintings were used not only in the imperial palaces, to display wealth and power, but also in common people's houses, to add beauty to the buildings.
Most of the historical buildings, which stand in Jieyang, were built during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Craftspeople used paint to create colorful paintings (used to decorate the buildings), so the artworks could withstand wind and rain. If you take time to observe the paintings' various patterns (including figures, animals, plants, flowers, and/or scenes), you will surely be impressed by the craftspeople's ingenious designs and superb workmanship. Through the exquisite works of art, which embody Jieyang's distinct cultural features, one may get a glimpse into the residents' aesthetic tastes. The paintings also embody the residents' desire to enjoy happiness, high rank and longevity.
Huang Ruilin, who was born into a family of craftspeople in Jieyang, in 1959, is a provincial -level inheritor of the craft of creating colorful paintings (used to decorate buildings and furniture). Huang often recalls his experiences in creating the paintings during the past several decades. "Influenced by my father, I developed an interest in painting during my early childhood. When I was a little boy, I began learning how to paint under my father," says Huang.
Given his diligence and wisdom, Huang quickly honed his skills. Absorbing the advantages of other craftspeople's paintings, Huang, a bright and talented man, gradually developed his own artistic style. Given his constant efforts to improve his painting skills during the past 30-plus years, Huang has become one of the few great painters in Jieyang. The National Architecture Institute of China in 2009 named Huang one of China's masters of creating colorful paintings (used to decorate buildings and furniture). Guangdong's Department of Housing and Urban-Rural Development in 2016 named him one of the province's top craftspeople of traditional architecture.
During the past several decades, Huang has put a lot of effort into inheriting and innovating the craft-making skills, to display the charm of the paintings to the world. He is pleased that Huang Zeping, his son, has followed in his footsteps and mastered the painting skills. Huang Ruilin and Huang Zeping often discuss how to create paintings with "vigorous vitality," by integrating modern artistic elements in the designs of their paintings.
(Women of China English Monthly October 2019 issue)
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