Across China: Xinjiang entrepreneur thrives on traditional arts
URUMQI, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- "My one-year-old daughter was once scared by one of my paintings portraying an eagle," a 40-year-old entrepreneur from Xinjiang said.
It took Arzugul Gupur years of testing before she successfully created a painting on a piece of cowhide. She was invited to the China-Eurasia Expo in late August to display her works.
Arzugul was eager to start a business in the hometown after she sold her thriving catering business in Beijing and returned home to look after her seriously ill mother in 2014. Moreover, she wanted to revive the fading art and eyed the growing opportunities in Xinjiang.
Painting on the fur of cowhide is not easy. Since 2016, Arzugul has worked through problems including how to preserve and deodorize the animal hide.
"Unlike paintings on the paper, the fur can make the painted animals or characters more vivid," Arzugul said. She decides what to paint based on the patterns of the fur, given the fact that the lines and flecks on every piece of hide are different.
Arzugul experienced hundreds of failures, and due to the high costs of cowhide, she even experimented with her own hair to test the effect of pigments.
Finally, her hard work paid off. "I have never expected to see such a magnificent painting made on animal hide. That's unbelievable!" Wu Yu, deputy director of Urumqi Hong Gallery said when she saw the piece for the first time.
The rich culture in Xinjiang is the inspiration for Arzugul's paintings. In the context of local culture, horses are the symbol of the pioneering spirit of the people. "So they are one of my favorite themes," said Arzugul.
One of Arzugul's works named "Mother and Son Horses in Autumn Breeze" sold for over half a million yuan (about 73,529 U.S. dollars) in an audition.
After her painting techniques became more sophisticated, Arzugul also designed items for everyday use with the techniques to diversify the product lines of her company. New products include notebooks, laptop cases, and backpacks. Orders began to pour in from home and abroad.
"Arzugul broadens the public understanding of artworks. Her paintings also display the landscape, humanity and the abundant animal species of the region," said Ghazi Emet, a famous painter from Xinjiang.
Arzugul has an ambition of making her paintings a drawcard for Xinjiang. So since early 2018, she began to travel with her artworks to various exhibitions around the world.
"Wow, how can someone paint like this!" Was one comment Arzugul received during an exhibition this year.
Arzugul named her brand Return Trace based on her own experience. "I left my hometown a decade ago, and now I want to follow the ancient silk road to vitalize my hometown through my works," she said.