Claw Prints on Melting Snow

By Liu Guozheng

Both the exhibition and publication of oil paintings on pandas reflect the achievements of Bian Jian, who has pursued his painting dream for more than 30 years. In his 50S, Bian knows well his mission of life. 

Different from his peers, Bian shows little interest in fame and wealth. In his own words, painting is nothing but a proof that proves his ever existence.

Meanwhile, the path of Bian’s art pursuit is not a smooth one. 

When he joined the PLA Jinan Qianwei Song and Dance Troupe at the end of 1970s, Bian was only an ordinary soldier with a dream of artist. His job was to design stage setting but his favorite was drawing. Interestingly, the stage art team of Qianwei Troupe has continuously served a cradle to foster a number of famous painters , such as Qin Dahu , Wang Zunyi, Liang Yiqiang and Dou Peigao ,Beijing was a latecomer, Bian never stopped his steps.  

To work with a song and dance troupe provides Bian a precious opportunity to enrich his living experience and enlarge his perspective rather than raise his intelligence. The beauty of actresses and dancers of the troupe also enhanced his sense of an artist.

Being a warm-hearted man, Bian was very popular in the troupe thanks to his smartness and diligence. He was quickly promoted to work at the club of the military area, where Bian took all kinds of jobs, ranging from advertisement and decoration, purchase of equipment to the rent of venues. He practiced his painting skills in his spare time though he had spent most energy in dealing with everyday matters. Many of his excellent works were created during this period of time. 

Many years later, he was invited as contributing painter for the well-known Rongbaozhai studio and worked whole-heartedly in painting. In his deepest heart, Bian is still a military painter.  

As to the subjects and content of painting, different painters have different ideas .At first, Bian focused on army life, such as battlefield and frontier scenery; Later he showed interest in the depiction of beasts and beauties as well as mountain ghosts. Cameis and pandas were his recent favorite topics for their honesty and cuteness respectively. Aesthetically speaking, art creation reflects the personality and pursuit of the artist. 

What make Bian standing out among his peers are his innovations in forms and techniques. Borrowing the techniques of strokes and layout from traditional Chinese paintings, Bian’s oil painting is of unique personal characteristics. When drawing trees and bamboo leaves, he adopts the oriental method of composition. Omitting all the unnecessary background, the linen canvas has helped provide enough white space, just  like the traditional Chinese painting. Paying attention to the meticulous details of the images, Bian’s paintings are of Chinese style just like other Chinese art works. The fact that former US president Bush family collects Bian’s Panda painting proves an old saying what belongs to the nation, belongs the world.  

Art is long, but life is short. An artist should never stop his pursuit. Famous scholar Wang Guowei has described the three phases of one’s career: Firstly, “Westerly winds withered trees up last night. Climbing up the stairs and being lonely on the loft. I overlooked the endless distance.” Secondly, “The dress takes to loosen gradually and I am more and more emaciated. No regretful plying at all, I am rather for her only distressed as I did,” Thirdly, “When all at once I turn my head, find her/him there lantern light is dimly shed.” 

Rongbaozhai shows its unique taste when selecting art work including Bian’s panda to attend the Shanhai World Expo. Standing amid the masters, Bian has won praises and curious queries among the audience and media. 

The successful exhibition of personal oil paintings in Chengdu in 2010 pushed Bian’s art creation to an unprecedented level. People of the panda hometown showed the same enthusiasm to Bian’s works as to the lovely animal. Both experts’ appraisal and media’s comment toward Bian’s oil paintings have opened a new world before the artist. 

Some people are born artists, to whom art is a kind of belief. 

A proverb goes that the other side of the distress is a bright world. For Bian Jian, the other side means a brand new kingdom that enables him to freely illustrate all his talent and endeavor.