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Beichen sticks to its farmer painting roots

By Yang Cheng in Tianjin Source: China Daily Updated: 2021-09-14


Spring Comes back to Earth, a nongminhua work by He Xiaobao. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Zhang Weimin, 58, a nongminhua painter and a key inheritor of the school, as well as a former researcher at the Beichen Cultural Palace, said that collectors are mainly foreigners, some of whom sent the paintings home as gifts.

Zhang was famous for promoting the school at grassroots communities at home and abroad.

He Xiaobao added that Westerners have a taste for nongminhua because it resembles Naive Art, the work of artists who lack or reject conventional expertise in the representation or depiction of real objects, and that some commentators have touted the paintings as the work of "Asian Picassos".

"After the pandemic, I hope to boost its presence overseas, to better tell Chinese stories to the world," He said.

Yang Jian, deputy curator of the Beichen Cultural Palace, said: "We have supported nongminhua for decades. The palace will continue to support the art form's effort to become registered as a national intangible cultural heritage, and find different ways of increasing its influence."

For Tian Hao, a professor at Tianjin Normal University and a leading researcher on folk art, this support is critical, for he believes that the future for farmer painting may not be predictable.

"Nongminhua artists lack confidence and the market has shrunk in recent years. I expect more financial support from the government to invest in the art creation," he said.

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