Young artist’s big Beijing dreams come true

China 24

Finding success in Beijing can be a lot harder than it seems, but this young woman followed her dreams and succeeded. She started as a waitress, but soon became an up-and-coming artist. 

CGTN’s Han Peng reports.

Every time she paints, she said it’s a mystery being unfolded from deep in her heart.

“I focus on abstract paintings, because I do not have to paint the real world,” Wang Hua explained. “I like to paint what I feel inside. Straight lines mean I’m feeling something sharp, while curved lines show my heart becomes gentle and soft.”

Following her heart, the painter said she has no idea what will appear on the canvas until the image is there.

“Everything around me, including your talking with me right now, or even a cup falling nearby, will all change my feelings, and thus change my strokes. So I never plan anything, but just let them all naturally flow out to become the final work.”

Her final work, ten impressive 30 meter long rolls she spent the past seven years finishing will be exhibited along with the masterpieces from some of China’s highest profile artists

Wang had humble beginnings growing up in a rural town. The artist never went to university and came to Beijing in 2011.

“I knew nothing about Beijing then, except that the environment for art looked better than my village.”

Like many the newcomers that came before her, she learned it would be a struggle to survive. Wang took a job as a canteen waitress at China’s Central Academy of Fine Arts, a place where she felt her dreams would be in reach.

With a wage of just a few hundred dollars, she settled down in a tiny basement. There, she started the ten long rolls.

“When I’m not eating or sleeping, I’m painting. All my neighbors thought I was either crazy or a fool. That I had no future,” Wang said. “But just like in my art, where I don’t know where my next stroke will be, I left my life to fate to see where it would lead me.”

But a random conversation with a student at the canteen changed everything. Moved by her story, the student recommended Wang to a professor.

A TV documentary caught the meeting that changed her life.

“Her painting is very special. In all the years of my teaching, I never met a student like this,” the academy’s Professor Yuan Yunsheng said. “She never had professional training, but it’s exactly the lack of it that helped her work because she wasn’t restrained by the rules.”

When Wang began to cry, the professor said it was her being so easily moved that makes her work so moving to others.

After years of instruction from her new mentor, she is now much better off, even though she still lives near her basement as a reminder of her humble start.

Beijing authorities have since closed the apartment, banning the rental of all basements because of safety concerns. This along with tough new rules to control the city’s population has made rents rise even further. But if newcomers dream like Wang, they stand a chance.

Curator Daisy Wang explains China’s modern art industry

Daisy Wang is a curator of Chinese and East Asian Art at the Peabody Essex Museum in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. CGTN’s Mike Walter asked her about the growing interest in China’s art scene.