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Chinese Cartoonists Tackle Thorny Issues

Producing laughter while at the same time provoking thought, cartoonists tackle serious issues behind the hilarious and exaggerated images.


More importantly, the cartoons offer a way for artists to comment on a wide range of issues.


At the National Museum of Fine Arts, over 400 caricatures, sifted from nearly 3,000 submissions, are on display. Visitors are prompted to reexamine the world they live in.


The exhibition is named after Feng Zikai, renowned Chinese painter and music educator who lived between 1898 and 1975. This is the 4th time the biennial event has been held.


Miao Jitang, Deputy Chief of Cartoon Art Committee of Chinese Artists Association, said, "Before, the situation was that the artists were few in number while the reader group was enormous. In recent years, more and more people have begun working in the field, and they have grown from complete amateurs to professional cartoonists. The boundaries no longer exist."


No cartoonist can work behind closed-doors, as creativity dries up once they shun themselves away from the world. Some of the best works are born out of hands that feel equally at ease holding a pen or a farm tool. Through caricature, these peasant artists bring a part of their daily life to their urban counterparts.


If the issues reflected in these works are very localized, then there are many others which take on "bigger" problems and speak a global language.


Chang Tiejun, the author, said, “My work is about the saving of water. Our earth is thirsting to death, and she asks the Goddess for a solution. Manage water resources well and use it economically" is what the Goddess tells her."


Those who are unfamiliar with Chinese society might still feel lost, as Angelika Eirngibl and her husband frankly admitted. It's imperative for Chinese cartoonists to hone their artistic skills, letting pictures speak more for themselves and getting the messages across to a large audience.


Wang Fuyang, Chief of Cartoon Art Committee of Chinese Artists Association, said, “Compared with works from the West, Chinese caricature is still immature in terms of content and style. The scope it explores is still narrow. And the artists are not yet able to respond fully to society.”


According to Wang, until the last exhibition two years ago, each selected cartoonist was able to submit two pieces of work for display. But this year, there was only space for one, simply because there are so many new cartoonists out there.


The exhibition will run until July 20.


(CCTV.com July 16, 2004)

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