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Introduction. Profile. The Ge Feng Collection.

Ge Feng.

History & Background.

I was born in Taiyuan in northern China in 1967, during the Cultural Revolution, and named Ge, meaning “Revolution”.

As a child I loved to draw. I soon became interested in photography and lacking a darkroom, I managed to print photos in the darkness under my bed.

At 16 I went to Xiamen College of Arts and Crafts in southern China to study traditional Chinese painting. I learnt how to balance the empty spaces and the subjects in my paintings and how to paint the elegant lines of bamboo.

At 19 I decided to cycle back home from Xiamen to Taiyuan. I cycled the length of China on a traditional bicycle with no gears. It was a long, hard journey, trudging and cycling over the mountains for a month. The experience taught me that even very difficult tasks can be achieved by taking one step at a time - you simply need to be bold enough to believe in your initial idea.

This new understanding helped me to graduate top of my class, and soon afterwards several of my works won awards in the first 'All-China Genre Painting Exhibition'. These works were then acquired for the Chinese national collection and exhibited in the Chinese National Arts and Crafts Museum in Beijing.

In 1989 I moved to England. As I hardly spoke a word of English, the only way for me to earn a living was to sell art. I sold small works in craft markets, and soon began to have solo exhibitions all over the UK. Alongside the exhibitions I taught art workshops.

I have now lived half of my life in China and half in England, and I like to think that my art is a fusion of the best of both East and West.

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Ideas & Inspirations.

My favourite subject to paint is people.

I have lived in three very different places-northern China, southern China and England-and it is always the people that make a place special.

I became interested in graffiti because the simplified style of stencilled art has a raw, direct feel which can convey the charm and wit of the people I want to paint.

In my graffiti work I try to bring to life an everyday place, by adding people with a story and a character of their own. When my graffiti people enter a very ordinary space, their presence brightens it up.

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From Palette to Picture.

I used to take a sketchbook wherever I went, but now I have discovered the power of the digital camera. I always carry my camera everywhere. I love being able to capture an image so instantly and take it home to inspire my pictures.

Originally my photos were just a source of inspiration for artwork. Nowadays I am using the photographs more directly, blowing them up and printing them on canvas as a background for my graffiti. I enjoy the interaction between places and people. This is a major attraction of graffiti. I think of a character I would like to paint, then search out a perfect location. I photograph the location, bring it home to my studio and stencil my character in this new habitat.

For each character I cut out several stencils, carefully working out a sequence of stencils to give a really rich image. Once the stencils are finally ready, the magic begins. I place each stencil in turn on the canvas, and spray-paint through it. The picture gradually emerges as I add layers of spray paint in different colours.

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A day in the Life of...

I moved from London to the country about ten years ago and I live and work in an old farmhouse, where I have built a shed for spray-painting. I love its rough, rustic character. It's a great place for messy jobs, and gives me the freedom to explore.

I work very intensely, and when I am painting I often work far into the night to finish a piece. Then I like to put the finished piece in my studio and keep looking at it from time to time to see if I want to make any changes.

To relax, I like to sip Chinese green tea, play table tennis or just go for a walk in the beautiful Wye Valley near my home.

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