by Raimundo Urrechaga
HAVANA, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- Chinese characters, sunflowers, traditional landscapes and a wide range of colors mark the prolific work of a Cuban artist of Chinese descent, Flora Fong, who is one of the most sought-after painters on the island and abroad.
Fong identifies herself as a genuine Cuban painter who never forgets her Chinese roots, which is apparent in her works.
In her western Havana home, also the site of her gallery and studio, Fong spends most of her mornings on painting new art pieces either for future personal exhibitions or at the special requests from both cultural institutions and friends.
"As an artist, there is always an idea to portray and a new concept to work on and that is what keeps me painting every day," Fong told Xinhua while putting finishing touches on an oil painting of sunflowers.
China has always been a very important reference for Fong, both in her paintings and sculptures.
"My academic preparation was of Western-style painting, but as a personal choice, I decided to learn about oriental and particularly Chinese arts," she said.
After her first trip to China in 1989 to reconnect with her father's family in China's southern province of Guangdong, Fong discovered that learning the significance behind some Chinese characters could help her give new meanings to her paintings.
As time passed by, the curiosity about her ancestors' culture became a passion.
"I began to study Chinese calligraphy, pictograms and started to incorporate those elements into my paintings. After learning about it for about 10 years, I discovered it could be linked to a truly Caribbean theme like hurricanes," she said.
Many art critics in Cuba believe Fong has appropriated artistic elements from China and the uniqueness of Cuban symbols and landscapes to propose a new way of admiring reality.
By doing so, Fong also began to use playful, vivid colors that contrasted with the solemnity of Chinese calligraphy.
"I mainly use black and sometimes white and red to trace the character and later I add lively colors like blue and yellow, which depict Cuba's appeal as an island as well as its infinite horizon," she said.
In her artwork, viewers will find that she is always questioning and analyzing the relationship between man and nature.
"Nature gives me strength, it is my inspiration. I like to paint the sea because of its tranquility and hurricanes for their inner strength," she said.
The Cuban painter is also defined by humility, discipline and perseverance, qualities inherited from her hard-working and persistent ancestors.
"It's definitely a legacy that is expressed in my artwork, in my everyday life," she said.