Tai Liping Shaanxi, China

Chinese arts and crafts master, the inheritor of the Fengxiang Chinese New Year woodblock painting technique enlisted in the National Intangible Heritage preservation program.

He acquired the Shaanxi Fengxiang New Year woodcut skills from his father and grandfather; the craft has been passed down in the family for more than 500 years. Together with father, Liping created over 60 types of motifs and discovered, researched, re-engraved more than 400 sets of New Year woodcuts, restoring the art to its former glory.

Tai Liping is an artist with fifty years of experience. His art works have been collected domestically by the Central Academy of Fine Arts, China Art Museum, the National Museum of China, and displayed in several foreign institutions in Japan, France, Germany and the United States. In January 2011, his woodcuts were made into stamps and printed as a special issue by the Chinese National Post Office. They featured various folk motifs, such as the "Humble Servant”, "Auspicious Boy", the "Vase of Wealth" and others. In April 2011, the "Tai Liping Fengxiang New Year Woodcut Teaching Center" was established, making an important contribution to the inheritance and promotion of the craft.

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Artwork

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Q

Features of the Art

A

Fengxiang New Year woodblock prints usually feature strong, masculine male characters with bright colors (usually red and green) and hyperbolic strokes. One of my paintings, Jia Guan Jin Jue (Promotion to the Nobility), features characters that are stockier and more charming than usual. The character Zhang Fei, a famous military general in the Three Kingdoms period, for example, appears to be stronger and mightier in my painting than in others. Another example that illustrates the features of the Fengxiang New Year woodblock prints is a series of paintings that depict Chinese Door Gods. In the famous painting Ba Da Men Shen (Eight Door Gods), the sturdy characters (with heads one-fourth of the total length of their bodies), the perfect combination of thick and thin strokes, the bright colors of red and green and the momentum shown in the stationary characters all help to create a very strong visual impact on viewers. Thus, the series is regarded by artists at both home and abroad as one of the best Chinese New Year Door God paintings and has been collected by many galleries and museums in China and other countries.

Q

Basics and Time Required to Master the Art

A

Experience with painting and the spirit of perseverance are required. The process of making New Year paintings – from designing to wood engraving to printing and to dyeing – requires sophisticated skills and manual labor. It usually takes about three years to learn the basic skills, at least seven to ten years to master the complete process and at least twenty years to become a grand master.

Q

Hopes for Inheritance

A

I hope that I can pass down the art to the right people. I also hope that my country can provide support to facilitate the continuation of the art. It would be great if I can have my own New Year painting museum one day.

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