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Life-long rebel who found an artistic cause

By Wang Jie (Shanghai Daily)

09:30, May 07, 2012

ARTIST Shi Qi's birth was accompanied by tragedy. His family was too poor to feed another mouth, so his grandmother decided to sacrifice her own life for the new born, wrapping herself in a quilt and setting herself on fire.

Such traumatic beginnings perhaps explain why Shi has always been something a rebel in the art world, always determined to do things in his own way.

Organized by Shanghai Art Museum and Wanda Group, a solo exhibition of Shi is running at Shanghai Art Museum through May 13.

"Don't call me a 'master,' I just wanted to try something different on rice paper, instead of repeating what the ancient Chinese masters had done," Shi says. "I really admire those artists who go to extremes in their artistic pursuits."

And Shi is most certainly among their number.

Born in 1939 in Fuqing, Fujian Province, Shi endured a harsh, miserable childhood but his talent shone through and he was admitted to a local fine art academy, setting him upon a very different path to that taken by other members of his family.

"Your character decides everything. I feel that my character is quite suitable for an artist with ambition," he says.

Equipped with training in traditional art, Shi rose to fame in the late 1970s.

In the years since, he could easily have sat back and led a comfortable life, simply repeating his style.

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Arthur Borges at 2012-05-07219.150.142.*
Shi"s grandmother is my hero: our true graves are in the hearts of the living who survive us (old Sufi saying pirated by the Frenchman Jean Cocteau).

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