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在线翻译:
szdaily -> People
Wood burning artist dedicated to carrying on tradition
     2014-December-26  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Martin Li

    martin.mosue@163.com

    ZHU PEIXING, who is over 60 years old, is skilled at using an electric soldering iron to write and draw on wood blocks and is hoping to renovate the age-old art of pyrography in China.

    “It’s called pyrography, which has a history of thousands of years in China,” Zhu explains as he introduces the traditional art form.

    Originating in China’s Han Dynasty, pyrography is also known as “fire needle embroidery.” Pyrography works are traditionally produced on wooden materials such as tree bark or boards, but by utilizing carbonization principles and temperature-control techniques, pyrography can also create a rainbow of colors on some materials without any paint.

    Accidental touch

    A Hubei native, Zhu was sensitive to colors and lines when he was a child. Raised in the countryside, Zhu was often asked to draw portraits of villagers when he was as young as 8. This was before photography was common in China. The portraits he drew were highly praised for being so vivid.

    Zhu joined the army in Shanghai in 1972. His was assigned to the publicity department because he was good at writing and drawing.

    He later became interested in radios and tried to use an electric soldering iron to make radio components.

    He once accidentally dropped an electric soldering iron on a wooden table when making a radio. The hot iron burned the table face, and then traces and patterns formed on it.

    Zhu was drawn to the phenomenon and started using an electric soldering iron to draw simple patterns on paper. Soon, he could draw more complicated patterns with the iron, including mountains, rivers, flowers, grass, characters and animals.

    Overseas study

    Zhu learned Japanese and studied in Japan as part of an academic exchange program in 1985.

    “During my four-year study in Japan, I visited a local calligraphy research institute on weekends to communicate with Japanese experts and calligraphy enthusiasts,” recalled Zhu.

    Zhu said he gradually realized that pyrography was an ancient art by which both calligraphy and painting can be created.

    Zhu spent eight years in Japan and participated in a UN aid program to Cambodia.

    During his 16-year stay in Cambodia, Zhu devoted himself to studying the traditional art and created a variety of pyrography works, gradually earning a reputation abroad.

    Many art museums have collected his works.

    Many celebrities in Cambodia asked Zhu to make pyrographic drawings of them, including the Cambodian prime minister.

    Zhu is the only pyrographist drawing portraits in China today, according to a recent report by the Daily Sunshine.

    A giant pyrograph

    In 2007, Zhu started work on a wood burning version of “Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival,” a well-known ancient Chinese painting.

    The painting was created during the Song Dynasty and faithfully depicts the lives of people from all walks of life in urban and rural areas.

    “It took me three years to complete the pyrographic version of ‘Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival,’ drawing whenever I was free,” recalled Zhu.

    The original painting is 25.2 centimeters wide and 5.25 meters long. Zhu used an electric soldering iron to copy the painting on a board that is 50 centimeters wide and 12 meters long.

    “I made the decision to copy the masterpiece in an effort to show people that pyrography is an independent art worthy of being kept and carried on and not just an auxiliary art,” he said.

    Zhu has not shared the huge artwork with the public.

    “I put photos of the work on the Internet, which was soon plagiarized. Someone else even claimed to be its creator,” he said.

    Zhu said he hopes to exhibit the massive work in a big exhibition room.

    “I also hope to exhibit several hundred other complete works, so the exhibition room would have to be more than 1,000 square meters,” said Zhu.

    Zhu returned to China and settled down in Shenzhen in 2011. He brought most of his works with him.

    Low profile

    Even though he has a high profile abroad, Zhu’s art has failed to gain domestic popularity.

    “Isn’t it easy to use an iron to iron something?” some people even said.

    “Pyrography is not very well known by ordinary people, so they don’t understand it. Meanwhile, it’s very difficult to learn it. Therefore, I don’t even have an apprentice,” said Zhu.

    “A Chinese once wanted to learn it from me in Cambodia, but later gave up because of difficulties and hardships.

    “Besides fine art and calligraphy skills, people have to concentrate and be patient when making a pyrography work,” said Zhu.

    Zhu said he is worried that this traditional art could be marginalized and become extinct.

    “Pyrography is a valuable art. It can turn a block of wood, bark from a tree or a piece of bamboo into a beautiful work of art,” he said.

    Zhu has scars on his hands from being burned by soldering irons. However, he said he would continue efforts to promote wood burning as a traditional art.

 

    “I made the decision to copy the masterpiece in an effort to show people that pyrography is an independent art worthy of being kept and carried on and not just an auxiliary art.”

    — Zhu Peixing, 60, who is skilled at using an electric soldering iron to write and draw on wood blocks

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