Iron Picture, Also Called Wuhu Iron Picture, Is A Cross Between Painting And Sculpture.
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It was first created by Tang Tianchi, a blacksmith who lived in Wuhu, Anhui Province in the mid-17th century. Using the anvil as his inkstone and the hammer as his brush, Tang forged, filed and shaped iron strips and wires into pictures by following the principles of composition of Chinese painting.
The art developed by the smith-artist has been handed down and cultivated for 300 years. The iron Picture is usually painted black -- with or without luster -- forming a clear contrast with the light-colored wall where it hangs. The landscapes, flowers and plants represented in iron appeal to viewers due to their three-dimensional effect of simplicity and boldness that is rarely found elsewhere.
The craft combines the traditional techniques of Chinese painting and calligraphy, sculpture and paper-cutting. It uses iron as the drawing brush through the process of smelting, forge-drilling and filing, making iron into pictures of high-art value. To iron a Picture is to hot-etch a Picture on a piece of wood, using the changes and variations of the dark and light to express the artist's thinking. The technique characterizes simplicity and nature, typically by using the wood mechanism. Making use of the wood grain is the signature technique of iron pictures. It possesses a high aesthetic value and is collected.
Following in the footsteps of Tang Tianchi was another celebrated iron Picture artisan named Liang Yingda. Subsequently, there were no other really outstanding masters, but the art was handed down from generation to generation by skillful craftsmen. Now, iron pictures are not only favorite artistic ornaments for ordinary people but are also displayed at national-level guesthouses or halls, demonstrating the unique artistic charm of appealing to both refined and popular tastes.
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