Wang Zhenfeng, a farmer from Maerqiu Village, in Shandong Province, shocked everybody around her 18 months ago by revealing that she could paint like a prodigy. This September she'll go from sewing seeds to adorning gallery walls with her first exhibition in Beijing's 798 Art District.
The reason she became popular is that her oil paintings of peach blossom trees were compared with Zhou Chunya’s artworks. Zhou is one of the most renowned artists in China, having earned a lot of respect as well as money during his forty year painting career. His works rank among the most expensive in China's contemporary art scene, with one of his peach blossom paintings selling for RMB 5 million.
Zhou, whose paintings usually contain green dogs, nude people painted in reds, and peach blossoms, studied at the Sichuan Academy of Fine Art in 1982 and went on to receive his MFA from the Kassel Academy of Fine Art in Germany in 1988. "I have always liked bright colors and enjoyed the visual stimulation - this is in my nature," Zhou told the China Daily in 2010.
People online commented that Wang's "work approached the quality of Zhou’s paintings.” The key difference? Hers "sell for RMB 200 each, while one by Zhou fetched a staggering five million in 2013,” according to Xinhuanet.
How did Wang learn to paint? Her daughter is a teacher at an oil painting center, and she returned to the village to launch the “Everyone is an artist” campaign. Increasingly curious, Wang joined one of the sessions. It wasn't long after that that her first painting was sold online for RMB 200 to an artist in Hebei Province. She didn’t begin to paint the village’s peach blossoms until March. Shortly after that, villagers posted her work online, where it drew massive attention.
This news has prompted debate about some artworks being overpriced, especially because Wang's paintings, which are much more affordable, sell like hot cakes. We are not going to argue about the value of the artworks, but there’s one thing for sure: becoming an online celebrity has changed Wang’s life. "Compared to my life in the past, I feel like I am living a newer and more meaningful life with painting," Wang said to Netease. "I will hold on to my dream, no matter how late the day may come."
We're guessing she's also pretty keen on selling one of her pieces for RMB 5 million. Who wouldn't be?
Keep your eyes on the Beijinger to find out about the opening date of Wang's exhibition in Beijing.
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