Knife's edge

By He Na and Han Junhong ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-06-02 10:20:45

Knife's edge

Lin Baojun is one of the most celebrated knife artists in China. Feng Yongbin /China Daily

Lin Baojun creates beautiful paintings of scenery, but he doesn't use a brush, instead conjuring up the bucolic images with a blade, an innovative technique that has become a special skill of the artists in Dunhua, Jilin province. He Na and Han Junhong report.

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Metal and rubber scrapers, several pieces of foam material, woodchips, two rolls of gauze, various brushes of different size ... whenever Lin Baojun opens his tool box people are baffled by what he does for a living.

Lin is used to the curiosity, and without a word, he will sit down and demonstrate how he uses the tools of his trade. In his hands, these everyday materials come alive, and in a few moments he has created a picture of a rural scene.

Lin is not a repairman or a craftsman, but a master of knife painting, a painting technique invented in Dunhua city, Jilin province, by his teacher Song Wanqing in the 1950s.

"My teacher was an oil painting master. And one day he was working on a painting and by accident, a drop of oil paint fell from his palette and stained the picture. He was desperate to fix the picture and used a scraper to remove the oil paint. To his surprise, instead of the scratching ruining the whole painting, it had a totally unexpected, marvelous effect," Lin, 53, says.

"The accident inspired him, and after countless attempts, he began to use his new tool to scratch off the color. Scenery such as rivers and clouds came alive and full of feeling. His knife paintings won high praise from art circles."

As a top student of Song, Lin has become one of the most celebrated knife artists in China. As deputy director of the China Knife Association, Lin's giant paintings have been selected to hang in the provincial conference hall and in several other big halls used by provincial leaders to welcome distinguished guests.

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