Passion is the best gift
Yaping Fan was born into an artistic, literary and scholarly family in Hunan during theinception of Chinas process of reformation and opening to the outside world. Her parentsgave her freedom and love. Her father, a calligrapher, had special insight into her potential.Guided by the motto, Passion is the best gift, he consistently encouraged her to dowhat she loved, and took her to visit masters of the arts to cultivate her interests and developher abilities.When Yaping was three years old her mother, who is a teacher, taught her ink painting.Yaping was a fast learner - she spent the entire afternoon painting fishes in many colorsand forms, tasting the joy of creation for the first time. Her cousin, a painter, was impressedwith her passion and showed her images of the works of masters such as Leonardoda Vinci, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Liang Kai, and Zhu Da. She fell in love with thesemasterpieces, and put a great deal of energy into copying them. Later, after enrolling inprofessional classes, she drew David with carbon rod for the first time (while avoidingbeing intimidated by Davids naked body!). She was becoming a driven artist, and shedrew like a hardened fighter. When others drew an apple, she drew a bowl of apples. Herteachers were startled by her passionate approach, and her personality shone through inher bold, forceful style. Facing a blank canvas, she was quite different from her peers.When Yaping was five, she was always the last to go home after school because herclassmates would line up to ask her to draw for them. She painted dolls and clothing designsall over her textbooks. She was also good at knitting, crocheting and embroidery.This was the origin of what would be three decades of creating eastern beauty dolls.Yaping also exhibited strong writing ability, and was awarded the First Class NationalExcellent Essay prize in fourth grade - the only winner in her city. The essay was writtenin a single draft, with imaginative agility. She demonstrated a similar agility in the visualarts, never needing to modify her wax paper drawings, and able to draw a circle on theblackboard without using tools. Around this time she was also invited to be editor of herschool newspaper and the weekly blackboard update. Talents such as these helped Yapingmake many friends at school.A very well known local painter noticed Yapings talent, and spent time with her to personallyenrich her knowledge and appreciation of Eastern and Western literature, philosophyand classical music. He used Socratic teaching methods, leading her on an explorationof an intellectual paradise. From Winckelmann to Romain Rolland, fromMichelangelo to Van Gogh, from Plato to Nietzsche, from Sappho Poems to HumanWords, he introduced Yaping to a rich world of knowledge and intellectual growth at ayoung age. Precocious Yapings teacher complimented her painting, calling it more boyishthan boys, but advised her that Art is a lifetime thing! Talent requires polish. Althougha child, Yaping accepted strict, orthodox instruction in painting: character drawingin the morning, color painting in the afternoon, sketching in the market in the evening,writing at night, with bedtime usually at midnight. Sometimes she sketched plaster figuresto the music of Bach until two or three in the morning.In middle school, Yaping began to design and craft all of her own clothes, bags and hats.All of her free time was spent on painting, writing, and design. Her ingenious mother becameher assistant. She was subsequently accepted with honors by a key high school, butstill insisted on painting every day. By the time of her graduation from high school shehad become a minor local celebrity, and she began to host solo exhibitions. Her life visionwas to be a free artist, traveling and painting. Her father noted that Yapings brothers wereall doctoral students or postdoctorals from Peking University or Harvard, and advised herto at least go to college. By this time Yaping had spent two years as a free artist. Shereplied: its easy, I will do it - for you. She chose Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts becauseof its free painting culture. Seeking to learn something new, she chose a printmakingmajor despite her lifelong focus on oil painting. Printmaking requires a solid foundation.Once a print is carved out, there is no way to modify it. It was an exciting new challengefor her.Fast-paced, urban college life was something entirely new to Yaping, although herschools courses were easy to master and her thirst for knowledge left her wanting more.Her college achievements were many - top grades, class monitor, school scholarship winner,full scholarship winner for graduate school, chairman of the graduate student union,Jinnanyue outstanding graduate, winner of various other scholarships, and so on. As hadbeen her tendency since childhood, she made friends with adults. Communicating witholder people greatly widened her vision, and allowed her to draw indirectly on the richlife experiences of others.Yaping strove to assist her classmates in ways large and small, even helping them to modifytheir paintings. Works she had assisted on tended to receive high grades without theteachers knowing of her contributions. Later, wanting to defer to her peers potential andunique experiences, she chose to take a step back and limit her assistance to advice, notdirect modification of their work.Knowledge makes a gentleman.Yaping was greatly influenced by her special teacherduring her middle school years, and continued to accumulate knowledge about Easternand Western literature, philosophy, classical music. She developed taste and became accomplished.This was her base for the absorption of systematic knowledge at the universitylevel. She greedily absorbed all kinds of knowledge, reading at a strenuous pace tolearn ever more and engaging in in-depth research about what she had learned before.She applied to work at the school library, where she spent almost all of her time - sometimesfrom 8 AM to 10 PM. In this job, she bound many unique books to add to the librarysinventory. Her job enabled her to read all of the books in special collections whichwere not easily accessible to other students. When she visited her school ten years later,the librarians still remembered her well. To this day she can clearly envision every cornerof that library. Her time there was the most productive of her school years. Overflowingwith creativity, she would sometimes paint directly over older work to avoid the delay ofpreparing a new frame and canvas. She also published her papers The Journey of Symbols The Synchronicity of Classic Painting in East and West and A ChronologicalHistory of Western Classical Music, and received many national and internationalawards, gaining considerable fame. As chairman of the graduate student union, she ledover 20 students in the founding Contemporary Art and Design Magazine, held severalexhibitions each year, published art books and participated in academic exchanges. It wasa period of great productivity for her peers as well, with ambitious student artists producingand exhibiting a great many works. The director of the graduate program viewed Yapingas uniquely talented and daunting to replace at the head of the student union.Yaping Fan believes that the greatest works represent an outpouring of human nature,awareness and insight. They are a reflection of the artists experience, knowledge andthought. Painting, to Yaping, is like music at the height of its tension, halting at its peak,quiet, vibrant, vivid, long. Behind the color is a rich journey, a home for the soul, and apassion for life. To Ms. Fan, painting is life: We come to this world to cultivate the souland improve ourselves. Maturity means the rejection of temptation and emotional control,along with a broadening of the mind. When material desires have been eradicated, onespeace of mind is impervious to external troubles. This is the path to understanding onestrue desires, friendships, and loves. When the nature of happiness becomes clear, peaceand nature are enough - and the work produced by such a person has a philosophical profundity.Thus, the sword is not in the hand, it is in the heart.While diving in Sanya, Yaping experienced the profound loneliness and emptiness of thedeep blue sea. The mighty sensation slipped away, lost with the falling of night, hiddenin the waves. Above, something drifted away from me in the faint blue sky, as if on a pathof exile. After returning from Hainan to the hustle and bustle of Guangzhou, Yaping experiencedan obsessive outpouring of creativity, completing six black-and-white woodcutprints in 20 days - an incredible feat. Finishing work of this type in such a short time isunheard of, because of the complexity of the printmaking process. It requires skill andgreat strain, both physically and mentally. The carving process is tiring, and once a markhas been carved into the board, it can not be modified. Great precision is therefore required.Yaping doesnt begin with a draft, instead directly carving the board. A carvingmust be done as a mirror image of the final product. Powerful control and balance are requiredof the artist. I was seized by a passion which brought me almost to tears. It closedtight my lips and bound my hands about the haft of the knife, which moved as if beyondmy control. Printmaking felt like life to Yaping, carved out with no regret, no reversal,leaving only traces of the knife. At the same time, she produced a collection of prose,The Death of May. Creative inspiration often strikes in this manner: as an accidentalmiracle.Yaping Fans series of black-and-white woodcut prints, Bedsheets won several nationalacademic awards. Doctoral tutor Judith Lokie of University Campus Suffolk exclaimed,I never thought such a young Chinese girl could create something so sexy in black andwhite! This inspired Yaping to name her collection of woodcuts and poetry Black andWhite Sexy. You are born for art, Judith told her. Despite your age, you connect withthe oldest British art through time and space. At Judiths recommendation, Yapings workwas exhibited by British universities and museums. That year, Fan Yaping was only 23years old.Yaping believes that the ability to control ones own emotions is very important. Artneeds bravery. Artists are often afraid to face the panic that comes with conflict betweenones true self and social convention. They hide from their true selves, and shrink fromthe challenge. This is a pathetic state of affairs. An artist must be moved by his own workbefore it can have that effect on others.Yaping Fans artwork spans many disciplines: printmaking, oil painting, photography, installationart, and so on. Training in the fundamentals which she received in her earlyteens lends her confidence with a wide range of materials. She believes, however, thatself-cultivation is more important than technique in the long run. This means that theartist should first be a thinker, with his or her own system of thought. It is this thoughtwhich determines the artists ultimate level of achievement.Yapings early works focus on elderly people and landscapes. She was greatly influencedby Chinese traditional painting and literature. She loves bronze works from the Shangand Zhou dynasties; painted bricks from the Han Dynasty; and painting from the Wei, Jinand Northern and Southern Dynasties. She can spend all day in the museum withoutnoticing her hands and feet going numb. As early as age sixteen, while returning fromGuizhou, she created a series of paintings, It Passes Like This, with a deeply philosophicalapproach. Upon entering Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, her teachers helped herto host solo exhibitions of that series, which brought her recognition. The exhibitiondemonstrated her understanding of philosophy and life, as well as her skill. Through herwork at this young age, Yapings artistic talent was already shining brightly.From the age of ten, Yaping backpacked the rivers and mountains of Guizhou, Yunnan,Sichuan, Hunan - sometimes for a month at a time. She loves nature, and travels somewherenew every year to fuel her nature-inspired art. On one trip she lived in a woodencabin with a sleeping bag. Washing required a trek through the hills. At night she watchedeagles circle overhead and listened to songs from a nearby village. Those memories ofnature do not fade over time, but return to me and occupy my subconscious mind at midnight,then naturally flow onto the canvas as my heart desires. Critics describe YapingFans use of color in her landscapes as bold, having very strong contrast, beyond that oftraditional landscape painting. Those works exhibit her highly personal style which in theart community is known as Yaping Fan style. She uses a variety of contrasting colors,such as purple, blue and lemon-yellow, to create an image that is bright and fresh. It expressesthe longing for natural beauty and beauty of the heart which perhaps cannot beattained in the real world, but is a place for which we nevertheless strive, internally. Iseek, through my work, to evoke lifes brightness. Kassel Documentas curator SaratMaharaj praised her as a soul capturer whose works have profound and traditional orientalspirit, and international contemporary style. These works have been exhibited andwell-received in Japan, having sold out at exhibition on each occasion.Yaping Fans Girls Growth involves painting, installation, video, and more. Adolescenceis the sharpest period of change in a persons life. The mental structures generatedduring this period have a profound impact on all future life choices. Yaping seeks to useher work to light a warm beacon for growing young girls. Every girl exists within herown free and wondrous kingdom where light and optimism coexist with darkness andfear. They are the little princesses of these kingdoms, afraid to change but wanting togrow. She delicately and sensitively captures the uniqueness of young girls minds,vividly depicting angelic faces and the rich inner worlds behind them. She teaches girlsusing painting to reach their hearts. Each work takes years, spanning a childs growth.Her pieces，Angels Secret Garden, Angel, The First Menstruation, and Lolitafrom this series are considered to have academic and social value. They are sought afterby domestic and international collectors.Yaping Fans Art Angel Doll attracted a great deal of attention from the arts and collectorscommunities. The dolls are posable sculptures which take years to complete. Yapingsdolls are based on her childhood dreams. China has five thousand years of culture history,yet Chinese children of the 1980s were surrounded by imported Western culture such asTV shows, and anime from Japan. Yaping was determined to create oriental beauty dollswhich would function both as a carriers of Chinese culture and as soul mates for imaginative,lonely children growing up in a modern society. The palm-sized Art Angel Doll hasa posable body with free-acting joints, delicate makeup, fine clothing and meticulous details- eyelashes, lips, nails and nipples. Each doll has unique makeup, with subtle colorchanges and rich expressions. They are the finest of dolls. Faber-Castell - a 250-year-oldGerman brand - was surprised to see an artist push a product to such extremes of quality. !Every girl has a doll complex in her heart. An Art Angel Doll is her secret confidant,and companion in imaginative play. An Art Angel Doll is pure, sexy, cute, rebellious,dreamy, melancholy. The artist has given each doll a life. Each has its own name, family,and unique style of dress. Drawing on her own dreams, Yaping created the dreamlikelarge installation pieces Dream, Angel and Fairy Tale. They received high praise inVenice Biennale from collectors. Viewers of these artistic spaces let their minds fly freely,the dolls helping them along the way.The series Old Boy is about male growth. This series includes ink paintings, drawingsand oil paintings. The oil paintings are all more than two meters in height. They depictmale loneliness, despair, joy and passion, exploring male friends, family relationships,and desires for careers and for love. The series Lonely received an enthusiastic reactionfrom curators and critics. Both technical skill and profound artistry were required to generatethe images powerful impact. It is solemn and deep, fully expressive of male loneliness,determination and strength. The hero sits quietly with a cigarette in his mouth.What it evokes is direct and clear. Calm and detailed observation of character demonstratesthe artists rigorous approach and unique perspective. (Bazaar - 100 Art WorksRecommended)Yaping Fans creativity has entered its heyday. It is basically a cool passion. The charmof creation lies in the uncertainty of what will show itself in a work of art from momentto moment. Confronting my own true feelings and soul, and laying them out in my work.My career is based on my dreams. My greatest challenge has been to choose. I strive, ultimately,to follow the most innocent thing in my heart and produce work honestly. Whengrappling with the market I avoid following the crowd, but strive to create my own categories,lead the trend, and let my work be driven by my own soul. This is the art thatlasts.Using Art to Spread LoveBig love was deeply ingrained in Yaping Fans blood by her familys words and deeds.Yapings grandmother was born into a upper-class family. A woman of wisdom and flawlesspersonality, intellectual and elegant, she offered Yaping both systematic guidance andfreedom. Yapings father is a calligrapher as well as a wonderful writer. Her mother is adevout Buddhist and traditionally good wife and mother. Yaping has been greatly influencedby them since her childhood.Yaping believes that beauty and goodness are human nature, but need to be awoken. Usingart to inspire the inner beauty of children is more powerful than preaching. Ten yearsto make a tree, a hundred years to make a human. The young artist Yaping Fan spentyears in tireless pursuit of the true love dream. Her father says she is a naive nationalistand patriot. Her social ideal is peaceful, abundant and loving society.Selflessness is the way to become a master. Yapings Zen mentor lead her to a higher levelof understanding in this. Yaping believes in helping people with a Buddhist heart,which she applies to her life by contributing to charities such as education for the poor.Since 2000, she has participated in charity auctions and donated to various charitable organisations,including the China Legal Aid Foundation, Shanghai Adream, China Councilof Lions Clubs, Guangdong Education Foundation and Guangzhou Charity Association.These ongoing activities were inspired by her first charity auction, at which her pieceswere pre-sold within two hours. The organisers requested four more, which in turn weresold out a day in advance. The sense of accomplishment she tasted at that moment - herwork selling at a strong price to help spread love and beauty - led her to participate inmany more charity auctions, at which her work was often the most expensive piece orresulted in the highest total proceeds. Professor Dong Chen called her an auction specialist,and the director of Secretary for Home Affairs Zhenyao Wang called her art angel.Yaping was later discovered by international experts and frequently invited to participatein international art exhibitions, at which she was usually the youngest participatingChinese artist. Yaping bonds with charities, actively participating in their social missionsbeyond the scope of her work.Serving as a frontline volunteer for charitable initiatives, Yaping learned that the childrenshe served lacked not only material goods, but also love and education. German philosopherKarl Jaspers said, Education is a soul awakening another soul. Give a man a fishand you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Yapingbelieves that art education can awaken a childs mind, and provide psychological therapyto help the child recover from past trauma and become happy, sunny, positive and lifeloving.This is true charity. Adhering to the fraternity, abundance, and harmony socialideal, Yaping Fan combines knowledge and action, devotion to art and educational philanthropy.In 2000, Yaping Fan began her inner growth of adolescents project. Her subjects wereher students and friends children. She communicated closely with children and their parentsand studied the problems of adolescence using art and psychology research methods.After more than ten years of accumulation, all of those individual cases coalesced into aseries of experimental art education courses. This experimental education system drawson philosophy, psychology, education, and management science as well as other disciplines.A combination of visual, tactile and auditory learning through media such as music,painting and literature enhances the childs capacities in the areas of self-expression,communication, problem-solving and cooperation. This builds the childs self-awarenessand ability to plan for the future.When she communicates with children, Yaping never sidesteps sensitive issues. Todaythe internet is very complex, and it has a negative impact on the values of some children.I believe it is best to teach children art and general curriculum in a way which intereststhem and engages their curiosity. She often discusses real-life topics with the studentsand uses diverse methods to help children understand love, life and death, time, money,attitude, and so on. For example, in a painting class with a topic of money, the kidscreativity and understanding of shone through. I hope that through this class, they cangrapple with the idea of wealth rationally, and learn how to manage and share it. Yapingbelieves that painting is a way for children to open up, learn about their own abilities,and reach their full potential. Presenting art through painting, art appreciation, drawing,sculpting, and hand crafts helps children understand art and cultural history, and enhancestheir ability to self-cultivate. It also helps to increase the level of communication and understanding between the children and their parents.Each course includes training in teamwork, self-esteem and time management and integratesgames based on psychology and behavioural science theory. These exercises improvechildrens abilities in the areas of performance, communication, thought and creativity.The greatest purpose of the course is to lead children to think about life, so thatthey will grow up with healthy bodies and minds. Yaping believes that education is themost important force for personal change, and that the core of modern education is communication and sharing. She has been invited to participate in international conferenceshosted by international education organizations, the Ministry of Education of China, theMinistry of Culture of China, art museums and art schools to help spread caring and wisdom.As well as intelligence, Yaping possesses pure childlike happiness. This combination isthe source of her achievements, and the factor that ensures she will move ever furtheralong the road of art. Her pursuit of art is reminiscent of the words of poet Liu Yong, whowrote, I do not mind that my clothes are getting looser. My lover is worthy of desire.Man Liu, the chair of Adream, described her as, a very rare idealistic artist. When famousArt critic Xiaoyan Yang commented on Yaping Fans works, he said history willprove it.