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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Big-name artist in small hometown

(Shanghai Daily)

14:19, November 20, 2011

Artist Liu Xiaodong (left) ponders over his unfinished realistic work of his friend (right) during an extensive trip back to his hometown, Jincheng, in Liaoning Province. The painter's visit is documented by Taiwan filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien in "Hometown Boy."

When a very famous artist goes back to his small hometown to paint family, friends and locals, the visit can be a little awkward at times. Wang Jie reports on Liu Xiaodong's visit home that is now a documentary film.

Liu Xiaodong is often compared with Lucian Freud as a master of realistic, figurative painting known for portraying ordinary people and their difficult lives without sentimentality, like those of people awaiting the rise of water from the Three Gorges Dam.

Considered one of China's most important painters, Liu joins his subjects and paints swiftly on big canvases or prepared paper, often creating life-size scenes of people at work or rest.

His painting visits to the Three Gorges area and to Thailand were documented by noted Chinese six-generation director Jia Zhangke in the film "Dong" ("East"), which was praised at the 2006 Venice Film Festival. Liu has been the protagonist in other documentaries.

A new documentary "Hometown Boy" follows Liu as he makes his first extended visit back to the small town of Jincheng in Liaoning Province where he paints family, friends and locals in the old paper mill town that has undergone enormous changes.

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