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在线翻译:
szdaily -> People
Iron man holds iron dream
     2014-June-6  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    “I hope to raise public awareness of protecting the environment by focusing on the mental state of urban citizens in a new form of expression.”

    — Li Wen

    Luo songsong

    songsongluo@126.com

    AT a tiny booth in a 5th-floor corner of Luohu Commercial City at Shenzhen Railway Station, a six-foot-tall (182cm) man is squeezed in between dozens of iron wire animal sculptures of various shapes and sizes.

    Behind him, big ants climb along the surface of a display window where an owl, lizard, crocodile, buffalo and other paper animals pose and a rustic horse stands between two twisted, vertical lines, one of which bears the studio’s name: Li Wen Iron Wire Artwork.

    Under a table, photos of his customers from around the world lay under glass, while coils of galvanized iron lean against plastic chairs on the floor. He uses these coils to create simple works, like names, logos and Chinese characters.

    On the other side, an unfinished work features a man and a pregnant woman floating in the jungle of China’s landmark skyscrapers, which rise out of a chemical factory with symbols of PM2.5 and another hundred Chinese family names connected by vertical lines.

    “I hope to raise public awareness of protecting the environment by focusing on the mental state of urban citizens in a new form of expression,” said the 44-year-old burly man from Northeast China with thin, long hair, tanned skin and big hands full of thick calluses.

    Li has already spent more than two months on the project and still needs one more month to complete it. He hopes to attract social attention and recognition at a national art exhibition that will be held at the end of this year.

    Long and winding road

    Before he came to Shenzhen, Li studied oil painting and root sculpture while serving in the army. He even opened an art studio in Heilongjiang Province in 1997 in an attempt to realize his artistic dream.

    Instead of getting closer to his original intention, however, the tedious work on production lines in factories that process crafts frustrated him a lot in the first few years. So he decided to set up a sculpture studio, but experienced greater challenges there.

    His business’ failure threw him into a desperate situation in which he had to rely on his friends to survive, but Li said he didn’t doubt himself and his choice, even in those hard times, and kept moving forward with enormous devotion. To create a lifelike clay horse, he once applied for a job in a ranch for the sake of observing the movement and manner of the animal at close range.

    The situation took a turn for the better in 2009 when he was introduced to Luohu Commercial City, a bustling commercial complex, as a folk craftsman.

    Since then, his metal work began to attract the attention of worldwide visitors. He will never forget his first customer from Canada who bought a rustic horse in 2010, which gave him great confidence and made him recognize the value of what he has been doing.

    In his eyes, beauty is everywhere, and iron wire is his vehicle of personal expression to show that beauty. “People don’t show a lack of sense of beauty, but rather a lack of observation,” he added.

    His combination of iron works and the fashion industry is an example of finding beauty in unlikely places. In 2013, Li used iron wire to create a horn for a student from a fashion school in Hong Kong for one of her graduation designs.

    “An artist has to innovate not only in materials and techniques, but also in the means of expression,” said Li who tries to edge his way towards the field of fine art, and dreams of holding an individual iron work exhibition and owning an iron-themed cafe.

    In fact, Li still struggles to make a living by catering to different appetites with realist works, though abstract works, usually done with a single line of wire, better represent him and his thoughts.

    Now, he has shifted his artistic focus from his early days of seeking resemblance to seeking the inner spirit, or life, of the object he portrays. “The inspiration will come out once you have accumulated enough,” said Li.

    Dou Wentao, a Phoenix TV talk show host, once showed an iron wire sculpture of his name made by Li Wen on his show. He remarked that old things possess a kind of beauty, and become more fresh and valuable as time advances.

    No way back

    Since he came to the city 17 years ago, Li Wen has never returned to his home. He is still unmarried as well. “My biggest achievement is that I am still doing what I chose at the very beginning and that I enjoy it,” said Li.

    “I am just half way up a high mountain and couldn’t keep pace with others if I gave up or turned around,” said Li Wen, who believes that the field of iron works will make him successful someday, and that his works will shine in the long river of history.

    He keeps several books full of the signatures and remarks of his international customers. He said that he hopes these people can share in his happiness if he realizes his dream one day.

    “The veteran is so strong-minded that he feels ashamed of going back home without making extraordinary achievements,” Guan Baichun, a stone-calligraphy artist who once worked in the same commercial complex, commented on Li.

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