Across China: Russian artist crafting cultural bonds between Russia and China

Updated: July 8, 2024 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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HAIKOU, July 8 (Xinhua) -- In Kuznetsova Aleksandra's studio in Haikou, capital of south China's island province Hainan, an oil painting of St. Basil's Cathedral hangs alongside a portrait of a graceful woman from the Li ethnic minority, reflecting two distinct facets of the artist's life.

Growing up in an artist family, the 24-year-old Russian woman fell in love with painting at an early age. Six years ago she moved to Hainan, where she set up her own studio.

Her passion for Chinese culture began when she was just 10 years old. "I didn't have Mandarin teachers," she recalled. "I learned the language from the internet, books and TV. I just like the culture of the country."

In 2018, fueled by her passion, Aleksandra came to Hainan to study, where she was captivated by the island's serene natural beauty and relaxed pace of life.

"It's a very beautiful place, and the people here are kind, lovely and genuinely simple," she said. "Life moves at a leisurely pace, allowing them to harmonize with nature."

She noted that being in Hainan enabled her to deeply explore nature and humanity in her artwork, which are her favorite subjects.

Local ethnic people and culture became a part of her life when she traveled around the island with her husband, whom she met in Hainan. "We ventured into the heart of Hainan, encountering various communities. It was then that I first encountered the Li people," she recalled.

The Li brocade made a profound impression on her. It's a traditional textile of the Li ethnic group in Hainan, known as the "living fossil" of the textile industry, with a history spanning over 3,000 years.

"What you see is a woman weaving it (the brocade), telling you a story told by the generations before her, like the Dalishen, or the God of Strength, who is protecting us. It gives me inspiration and power to create," she explained.

She then attempted to capture the intricate patterns and totems of the brocades in her paintings, blending local culture into her creations, a process she found deeply fulfilling.

During her time in Hainan, Aleksandra has also witnessed the development of the local culture.

She said that new cultural landmarks like the tranquil Wormhole Library and the seaside building Sky Mountain have brought her great joy. The latter houses bookstores, cafes, galleries and an outdoor stage.

Hainan's artistic scene is burgeoning, Aleksandra noted, adding that the island's inclusive and open environment presents abundant opportunities for artists.

"In the past few years, I've met many artists, designers, movie directors, photographers, musicians and architects here. There are numerous activities you can participate in. Artists here share art, music and the joys of life," she said.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia, and the beginning of the 2024-2025 China-Russia Years of Culture. Currently, both countries are hosting a series of cultural exchange activities.

Art has no boundary and it has the power to bridge cultural gaps, Aleksandra said. She plans to host an exhibition featuring Chinese and Russian culture, hoping to help people from the two countries understand each other better through her artworks.

"I will stay in China as long as I can. It's my second home," she said. 

Editor: Li Shimeng