Jinshan's finest produce

By Zhang Kun in Shanghai ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-01-30 10:00:47

Jinshan's finest produce

Peasant art is known for its vibrant colors and depiction of traditional Chinese culture and values. Photos by Gao Erqiang / China Daily

This suburban district in southwest Shanghai is best known for being the birthplace of a niche Chinese folk art that is currently thriving and evolving with the times

Yan Junjie has not been a farmer for more than ten years, but given his current profession and its intricate ties to farming, he reckons he can be considered a peasant.

Yan is actually an artist who specializes in a very unique sort of craft that has been categorized as peasant art, which originated from the suburban Shanghai district of Jinshan. These sort of art works are typically colorful and they depict a wide range of subjects, from water town landscapes to family gatherings to distinctive elements of Chinese culture and tradition.

Yan and his wife Li Huihong, also an artist, now run a painting studio at a tourism center in Zhonghua village of Zhujing town in Jinshan. Their works have gained them some fame over the years. In their studio, an old photograph of Yan standing next to Chinese President Xi Jinping is placed in a prominent position for everyone to see.

"Mr Xi was the Party secretary of Shanghai when he visited us here, and I created a piece for him and his wife. He really liked it," said Yan.

Jinshan is today so well known for producing good peasant art that Fengjing, one of its towns, built a painters' village as a tourist and cultural attraction. Peasant art has become so deeply ingrained in the lives of Jinshan's residents that many are starting to learn the ways of the craft from local master artists.

Yan, for example, is teaching peasant painting to dozens of children in the town.

"It's not professional training. It's just for children to have fun and learn about our own culture," said Yan, who emphasized that there are no theories or guidelines to follow in peasant art.

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