Female artist in NE China’s Jilin Province tells story through lifelike paper-cutting artworks

(People's Daily Online) 15:23, July 05, 2022

Photo shows a piece of paper-cutting artwork made by Li Baofeng. (Photo courtesy of the interviewee)

When people take a first glance at the paper-cutting artworks by folk artist Li Baofeng, such as cutouts of a beautiful girl, an old lady, and a waterfall, they always think that these works are actually oil paintings because they seem so lifelike.

Li has been engaged in the creation of and research on paper-cutting artworks for several decades and has won awards during multiple national and international competitions. Her innovative approaches for creating paper-cutting works have opened people’s mind.

Li has combined traditional paper-cutting techniques with the features of various painting styles, such as Chinese painting and oil painting.

“I have also adopted multi-layer, colored paper-cutting techniques in order to create the artistic effects that I intend to express,” said Li. “Each layer of the whole paper-cutting piece, which is made from the paper of one single colored sheet, can be viewed as a complete single-layer paper-cutting artwork. Most paper-cutting artworks consist of over dozens of layers,” Li revealed.

Li started to practice multi-layer, color paper-cutting techniques about 16 to 17 years ago, having practiced repeatedly until she finally mastered the skills.

The folk artist once created a paper-cutting artwork based on an oil painting created by a renowned artist. The oil painter was deeply impressed by the completed paper-cutting artwork, saying that Li’s artwork was better than his oil painting and that the paper-cutting art could inject a renewed impetus into the art of oil painting.

Photo shows a piece of paper-cutting artwork made by Li Baofeng. (Photo courtesy of the interviewee)

“I cultivated a fondness for paper cutting when I was a child, and I was gifted,” Li said. Born in 1966 into a farmer’s family in northeast China’s Jilin Province, Li started to make paper-cutting artworks with a pair of scissors at the age of 6 to 7. The skills that she demonstrated as a child had amazed many fellow villagers.

Though she dropped out of school at a young age, Li had never stopped learning. In her spare time, she practiced the paper-cutting skills very diligently. Thanks to her persistence and hard work, Li was finally admitted by a vocational school, and after she graduated from the school in 1986, Li became a teacher at a private school.

In 1996, Li started to recreate figures in the classic Chinese novel A Dream of Red Mansions. In order to vividly craft the figures, she read the book again and again for a better understanding of the figures. Her excellent skills demonstrated in the artworks, which feature key characters in A Dream of Red Mansions, were applauded by Zhou Ruchang, China’s leading scholar of the novel.

In recent years, Li has held paper-cutting art exhibitions and live performances in South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, and Russia, promoting the artform around the world. Meanwhile, she has cultivated nearly 10,000 students in various localities around the country over the past years.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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