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Travelogue: Iron Painting
Updated: 2012-03-05

Travelogue: Iron Painting

Iron Painting: Bamboo, Wuhu Art Factory, Nov 8, 2011. [Photo/CRIENGLISH.com]

In Wuhu, Anhui, there is a special art form known as Iron Painting. Iron Paintings have a history of more than 300 years. But these aren't paintings at all, but rather pieces of iron that are heated and then bent and manipulated into lines and shapes. The final pieces fit together to form pictures and impressions that resemble paintings.

And the final product is rather striking because, unlike a traditional painting, Iron Paintings are three dimensional; it's as if they twist and grow from the background like vines. The depth and physical presence of the iron wires make this art form very memorable and particularly unique.

Today, a group of journalists from CRI visited the Wuhu Art Factory, where a myriad of different "iron paintings" were on display.

One piece of work depicted the image of a horse, and thanks to the unique features of iron paintings, the horse seemed to come alive like a living spirit, jumping out towards its audience. Another "painting" in the factory stretched from the floor to the ceiling in height and resembled a bamboo tree. The construction of this artwork is one of the most valued of all the treasures on display because the three-dimensional patterns of the branches and leaves are intricate and detailed in nature, thus making them extremely delicate.

However, the Factory isn't just an exhibition hall, it's also the location where master craftsmen create these works of art. In fact, the masters create the Iron Paintings using the same techniques as their industry's ancestors, the only difference being, today they use modern equipment.

First, they heat a strip of iron using a foot pedal to power the tool. Next, they hammer the strip into a particular shape, and use pliers to stretch and alter the iron to fit it into the painting. They use a real sketch as a blueprint, and fit the pieces of iron together to recreate the image in the sketch. Finally, after months of inspired labor, the incredible artwork is complete.

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