Zhanshou Archipelago is located in Zhejiang province, which is in the southeastern coast of China.
Due to the great geographical advantage of the Yangtze estuary and the Hangzhou bay on the outer rim of the East Sea, Zhoushan becomes the world famous fishing grounds (Gernet, 2002). Unique marine culture gives Zhoushan a large amount of special island custom, such as Zhoushan shell carvings, the memorial ceremony for sea and Zhoushan drums. The most impressive one for tourists and natives is the fishermen paintings. Plain fishermen painters combine the sea, unlimited imagination, the good wishes and sincere emotion together to conceive different kinds of gorgeous fishermen paintings. Zhanshan is my hometown where I have lived there for more than twenty years. When I was young, I always puzzled over how vast the sea is.
I was so amazed when my father told me that the earth is mostly covered by sea. From that time, I am proud of that I am the daughter of the sea because I live near the sea. The other reason why I am so interested in the sea is the stories that were told by grandfather, which attracted me very much. He was a fisherman when he was young and he had lots of wonderful experience while he was going shipping far away from the land. Although it is regretful that I cannot gain the opportunity to go through it by myself, I often imagine how wonderful it is in my own mind.
The first time when I saw the real paintings in the Zhoushan Art Museum, I was deeply moved and impressed. The stories that my grandfather told me had become the vivid sight that appeared in front of me. I could feel the power that painters tried to convey to audiences, and the paintings gave me more understanding of the marine culture of my hometown. There are two pieces of masterpieces that give me a very deep impression.
One of them is named The Song of Heart. This is a painting that regards ships moored in the harbor as the creation of materials. Thousands of fishing boats are waiting in line and slowly towards the sea, and the some boats are just parked there. The painter of this work is Baicun Luo who uses bright color to depict it, such as using pure colors to paint boats. The composition of it is compact and dazzled, and gives audiences enough visual impact and spiritual shock.
The other one is called Fishermen and Sea that depicts how fishermen live and eat by sea, which expresses the hope, happiness and power. The sea is so magnificent and has countless treasures to explore. Fishermen paintings represent mostly the sea and the sea-related things, even if the myths and legends also are related to sea tightly. Fishermen come and go into violent storm and roaring waves, or even experience the life and death struggle. The incredible adventures offer works fantastic, mystical, abstract and grotesque style, and give them a strong flavor of modern regional characteristics and national consciousness.
Likewise, these subjective feelings and intense flavors of life are expressed through exaggerated, casual images and gorgeous, strong colors. Even the people who live far away from the sea and never have a look at the sea, they also can feel the power that the sea brings to them and look forward to seeing it by their own eyes. Fishermen painters love their island, their work and their lives. They regard the sea as the inspiration, create the paintings in accordance with their imagination of environment and life, and express their thoughts and feelings with the image of simple thinking emotions. Also, the paintings are based on the actual image of the objective reality.
Painters start to carry out bold ideas, exaggerated conception and imaginative through brushes that reveal their true feelings about life and affection for the sea. Therefore, every work exudes rich “Smell of the Sea. These works of art filled with sea flavor, and have a distinct regional characteristics and flavor of life. For example, they draw a lot of fishing nets, gulls and sea animals on the fish’s body, which is a clever combination of these things that is woven into a distinctive style and a brand new form. As for the different kinds of tools that fishermen and crabbers use, when painters try to perform them, they can put different time and space, different viewpoints and characteristics of various objects together intricately.
It means that everyone can put his own interested things in a screen, so that the painting is unique and has a great life capacity. What is more, fishermen paintings are full of imagination, deformation and exaggeration, and there are no restrictions in shape. Painters often use their feelings as the center, according to the needed sights that appear in the same screen where you look up, look down, flat-looking, side-looking or others, which constitute the special shape mode of Fishermen Paintings. All the inspirations of Fishermen Paintings come from the painters’ real lives.
The work is a kind of specific language for fishermen, and it is a kind of beauty’s expression of their personal experience and perception in labor productivity, island customs, rituals and the fishing festival. Also, it is a life’s interpretation of living beside the sea, watching moody and violent tsunami waves, and listening to the howling winds. Romain Rolland once said: “The great significance of the arts, basically because it shows the true feelings of the inner mysteries of life and passion of the world” (1888). I clearly remember the first time I saw the fishing boats. The fishing boats maybe not so big but have their distinctive features.
These fishermen are well trained and they put all efforts into fishing in order to support their family. I once learned how to paint and I know it is not a simple thing to express your feeling in a simple work. It is a really hard thing to show the sprit of the work unless you love and understand it more than anyone else. Nature endows everything for human beings, and also motivates the creation of human’s inspirations and passions. We cannot talk about art without art works, and art creation is inseparable from real life works and artists. Arts come from real life, but more than life”(Cotter).
The beauty of real life can be divided into many forms including social beauty and natural beauty. Natural beauty is the beauty of the natural world itself, while society beauty lies on the beauty of the thing itself, and people’s beauty depends on the person’s own appearance and virtue. Fishermen paintings rely on their every day’s real life, simple but full of surprise. They draw what they see, what they do and what they feel, and add many creative imagination to the works. In an earlier time, I thought the more realistic the image of artwork is, the painting is more beautiful, so I was accustomed to using the “realistic” standard to measure whether a piece of artwork is good and bad.
It now appears that these works would be too tacky, not engaging, and have no depth. Like fishermen paintings, they are exaggerate and colorful, which beyond the reality and give people more space to imagine. It is said that Zhoushan fishermen paintings use unrealistic way to represent the real life scenes, which is a kind of fantastic virtual cultures in our life.
Cotter, Holland. “The Art Is in the Detail. ” New York Times.
2007. Web. 21 Nov. 2008. Clunas, Craig. Art in China.
Oxford University Press, 1997. 150-250. Print. Gernet, Jacques.
A History of Chinese Civilization. translated by J. R. Foster and Charles Hartmann (2nd edition ed. ). New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Print. Rawson, Jessica. The British Museum Book of Chinese Art (2nd ed), British Museum Press, 2007. Print.
Rolland, Romain. Beethoven. New York: BiblioBazaar, 2009. Print.