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Chinese Pride: Peking painter Ma Haifang

Ancient Beijing, a city where people once trod streets now buried for thousands of years. The ancient city has become a subject of growing fascination in contemporary China since the 1980s. Physical remnants of the past are being unearthed every day, while bulldozers clear space for glass-walled skyscrapers and towering apartment buildings. Nostalgic sentiments for the old city are blossoming. For most of his life, Ma Haifang has painted the city, the daily lives of its people, their habits and customs. He has tried to recapture scenes of old Beijing. In today's The List, we meet Ma Haifang, a champion of painting in a nostalgic mood and a voice for conservation.

Ma Haifang's striking colored ink painting features his trademark caricature figures of Beijing folk.

Ma Haifang paints scenes that are typical Beijing, through and through. He captures the leisurely way of life and the laissez faire, live-and-let attitude among ordinary people.

He portrays the labor-intensive strivings of the common folk to earn a living. This is the heart of Beijing.

For years, the 52-year-old has embraced his identity as a man of Beijing, proud both in his everyday life and in his works.

Writer Liu Yida said, "We usually call him "Uncle Ma". Why? Because he carries the air of a Beijing native. Uncle is a respectful form of address for an elderly man. So the personalities and sights in his works are characteristic. When you see the figures in his paintings, you know they are not from Shanghai, or Inner Mongolia, or Guangdong. They're Beijingers, people who carry the special air of living near the emperors. These all are reflected in his paintings."

Ma Haifang's striking colored ink painting features his trademark caricature figures of Beijing folk.
Ma said, "Many people have asked me why you paint these old things. Actually, most of these old things have disappeared. We see them only in museums. Some people say my paintings have the flavor of Erguotou liquor. Beijingers like it. Its flavor is so different from other alcohol."

Art critie Liu Xilin said, "The scenes in his paintings look very ordinary but actually inside them is folk culture, or popular culture. It's also in tune with today's concept of "Building a Harmonious Society". Many elderly people cherish the sense of old Beijing. They live happily in the environment. We are so moved after seeing these so as to enjoy the vitality and appreciate our city better."

Source: CCTV.com    


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