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Former pop singer blossoms as an artist

WHEN mentioning the name Ai Jing, her popular song “My 1997” may spring to mind for many.

But Ai has been busy in the past 15 years. She is now also a painter and some of her fans may be surprised China Art Museum, the former China Pavilion at World Expo 2010 Shanghai, is hosting a solo exhibition of her works.

The exhibit features paintings, videos and an installation following an exhibition in Beijing.

“The work is enriched with variety,” said the Shenyang City native, “just like flowers. Each flower is different with a different scent.

“The greatest enjoyment of an artist is the control of time, I can manipulate my time by playing freely with colors.”

The theme of her exhibition is love. For example, she used some old and abandoned wool to recreate a huge piece with the word love.

Since 1999, Ai has been tutored by Zhang Xiaogang, one of China’s most well-known contemporary artists, who said: “In her tiny body, Ai hides a strong and unshakable heart.”

Later the 43-year-old studied art in the US. She now spends time in both China and America.

The installation features a tree made of disposable chopsticks with a black bird sitting in it. Through “Tree of Life,” Ai tries to render a feeling of solitude. The black bird with no companion seems to be waiting or praying. But what is it waiting for? Ai doesn’t provide an answer. Maybe rain, maybe love, or maybe God.

“In 2013, I went through a tough period,” Ai said. “At that time, someone suggested using my left hand to paint. It was so interesting to use my left hand, so free with no shackles.

“I guess everyone has a particular trait that hasn’t been found, or is buried under the erosion of time. I feel happy I found mine.”

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