Dong Guochang was born in 1934 in Fenghua. At the age of sixty, he builded a huge grave for himself in addition to two pavilions for future generations to rest when they visit him. The township head discouraged him from taking so much land for his grave that even the mother of Chiang Kai-shek did not own such a huge one. Dong, with rulers in his hand, went three times to compare two graves. Finally, he agreed to dissemble the two pavilions. Now, he becomes a famous painter in the village.
Historical background: Second Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese Civil War
Jiang Fufang was born in 1920 in Tang’ao, Fenghua. His family, belonging to the merchant class, provided him with great living conditions. After graduating from Ningbo High School, Jiang went to Republic of China Military Academy, determined to serve the nation. He joined the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1943. During the Chinese Civil War, serving as a major, he was shot at abdomen when fighting against the People’s Liberation Army. He went home after being cured. He faced discrimination due to his social classes and rebelled successfully in the 1980s. Now he lives in a nursing house for old people and is subsidized by the Academy Alumni Foundation.
Wu used to be a farmer in suburban Yuyao, where he owned a hardware store for ten years. Several years ago, a local shopping mall held a photography competition. He had just bought a used camera, so he took and submitted a random photo without much consideration. Surprising, he got the Golden Award. Finding it largely incredible, Wu closed his hardware store, devoting his life entirely to photography. As an aspiring photographer, Wu has a dream of taking photos of fishermen casting their nets high up on the sky in vast Siming Lake accompanied by a hanging mist. Unfortunately, fishing is not allowed in the Siming Lake. Therefore, he purchased a boat; after practicing for a long time, Wu mastered the skill of casting a net. However, it brought him another trouble: how can he take a photo of this scene?
Wu and I met at the bank of Siming Lake, and we had a great time talking about photography. When he volunteered to perform casting the net for me, I was extremely delighted. He brought his boat with a pick-up truck right away. Solemnly, he handed his camera to me, adroitly put on his rush raincoat, and rowed the boat away from the bank. He stood at the bow, casting the net toward the windy sky over and over again, proudly. I pressed the shutter continuously, and photos of Wu throwing his net were recorded in his camera, finally. (Liangnong, Yuyao)
Wu’s life is very different from the life people from cities imagine. For many, villages represent out-dated peasant life, and being a farmer means that one has to work all day long in the field but only earns little money. However, this is a misconception. From the experience of Wu, we can tell that lives in villages contain far more amazing activities than planting crops. While Wu likes photography, others have various hobbies at their spare time as well. Therefore, the portrayals of their lives have a positive side, in addition to the stereotypical tiring side. The stories of these old people can truly communicate the happiness in their lives with urban people. Our next exhibition will be held in the Culture Plaza of Ningbo starting from this weekend, and I hope that it can once again correct these misconceptions about rural lives!
ca. 20th century
Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 in. (60.96 x 91.44 cm)
Green Room in Library, Lake Forest Academy, Lake Forest, IL
K. Beiber, Winter Landscape, ca. 20th century. Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 in. (60.96 x 91.44 cm). Green Room in Library, Lake Forest Academy, Lake Forest, IL
Winter Landscape, by K. Beiber, is displayed in the green room of the library in Lake Forest Academy. A number of K. Beiber’s other paintings are on sale on online shopping website or in auction houses. The school might have bought this art piece from a auction houses or eBay, or it might also be donated by an alumni of the school. Unfortunately, there is no record at Lake Forest Academy about this art work. The medium of Winter Landscape is oil on canvas, and it is in a very good condition with no visible defects able to be seen by the viewers.
The painter, K. Beiber, is not a very famous artist. She is largely unknown even to experts. The limited information about the artist herself shows that she is an American painter in the second half of the 20th century and that lots of her works are left in Germany as she has gone there to work for a long time. Winter Landscape indicates that she might have lived in the Midwest of the United States. Other paintings by K. Beiber in auction houses show similar characteristics to Winter Landscape. She has painted many landscapes, including a painting depicting the landscape of Germany and one showing the sight of a forest in the morning. She likes to use of a number of different bold colors, such as using bright orange and blue together, in contrast to each other to emphasize the power of her painting.
K. Beiber, German Landscape, ca. 20th century. Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 in. (60.96 x 91.44 cm).
Winter Landscape and German Landscape, painted in the same size and with the same materials, have a lot of similarities. Both paintings emphasize on the creation of depth and space by depicting either a road, in Winter Landscape, or a river, in German Landscape, disappearing at the very end. The two paintings give the viewers a dimensional impression as if the road and the river are extending to infinity. Therefore, viewers get a strong sense in terms of how magnificent the landscape is from the nearer to the farthest end in the painting. They also get a mysterious feeling as everything in the two paintings is attracted to and concentrates at one point in the middle of the painting, and they imagine that the landscapes get more beautiful and mysterious as they approach to the end of the road or the river. The difference of German Landscape and Winter Landscape is shown in the color of trees. The trees in Winter Landscape are totally white, giving people a sense of winter, snow, and bitterness. The trees in German Landscape has warmer colors with the yellow and orange in a mixture of green. The colors make people feel more like walking in an autumn day.
Alfred Sisley (1839-1899), Le chemin de la Machine, Louveciennes 1873. Oil on canvas, H. 54; W. 73 cm. Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France.
K. Beiber’s landscape painting belongs to neo-Impressionist style, which is based on Impressionist art. Le chemin de la Machine by Alfred Sisley is also an Impressionist painting. Both painting are less refined and quick in order to capture the immediate yet the best impression of the scene. The road reaching infinity is one of Sisley’s favorite themes, also used by K. Beiber in her landscape paintings. The road disappearing into the distance connects the foreground and the background, helping the viewers to get a better sense of the space. This technique used by the two painters both creates perspective effects. The trees on the left side of the road in Le chemin de la Machine give rhythm and the impression of three-dimensional space by being perpendicular to the way which the road stretches. The vertical trunks also interact the horizontal lines of the shadows, perpendicular to the way the road goes as well. Le chemin de la Machine and Winter Landscape are different in way that in Le chemin de la Machine, the road slightly rises, creating a vanishing point slightly off center. The point off center increased the dimension and curve of space with different planes. Finally, Sisley painted a few small figures in the landscape painting, making it more vivid and lively. However, K. Beiber does not introduce any human figure in her landscaping, showing a bitter winter when there is no one walking on the road.