HANGZHOU, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- Chinese folk painter Yu Haijun never imagined that his art would be viewed by people outside of his province, let alone anyone from abroad. The G20 summit changed that.
For the duration of the summit, which ran on Sept. 4 and 5, in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, a set of postcards, featuring colorful paintings by local folk painters, were given pride of place in the press center.
Among the paintings is Yu's work "Ten mile dowry."
"It depicts a local custom in eastern Zhejiang. It is traditional for a woman's dowry to accompany her to her wedding. It is said that a rich family's dowry procession can stretch for ten miles," Yu explained.
Canadian journalist Courtney Hallink said that this was the first time that she had seen paintings by farmers at an international event.
She said that, to her, Yu's work reminded her of Picasso.
Yu was very pleased that his work was received well.
"I loved to paint when I was a child, but my parents were not supportive and believed that it was a useless skill. Thankfully I stuck to it," Yu said. He is now a professional artist, working out of a studio in his home village Cixi, which is 100 km away from the provincial capital of Hangzhou. Life was simple when he was growing up, most of his fellow villagers eked a living by growing cotton or rice.
During the past three decades, however, Cixi witnessed rapid growth in light industry and the lives of its residents has greatly improved.
The per capita disposable income of local farmers was around 27,000 yuan (4,042 U.S. dollars) in 2015, compared to the national figure of 11,422 yuan.
"These folk paintings not only depict the beautiful countryside but also serve as a record of material and spiritual gains," said Hu Jian, deputy head of the publicity department of Zhejiang.
The improvement of people's lives in Cixi is a result of inclusive development, which chimes with the G20 theme of "Toward an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy", he added.@ During the past three decades, China's poverty relief work has resulted in more than 700 million people being lifted out of poverty. This achievement accounts for more than 70 percent of the global poverty reduction success.
Chinese folk painting usually depicts the lifestyle, wishes and festivities of rural folk and is known for its use of bright colors. As a genre, it has been especially popular since the 1980s when Chinese farmers began to lead affluent lives and could explore their creativity.
Painter Yu Shixiang is from the island city of Zhoushan in Zhejiang. His piece "Another big net of fish," which is among the G20 postcards, was inspired by his experience as a fisherman.
"I worked as a fisherman for around two decades. I love to paint fish and sea birds, they are so beautiful," said the 64-year-old who also works as a goldsmith to supplement his part-time painting endeavors.
He recalled that there was no electricity on the island when he was a teenager. To save lamp-oil, residents would go to bed early, and he had to cover his window with a bed sheet when he was painting at night so that his parents would not see that he had the light burning.
"My simple rural life filled me with inspirations, and the radical changes in the countryside provided me with a passion to pursue beauty," he said, "with a paintbrush in hand, I want to show the world the beauty of China and the creativity of Chinese people."