How I Found Myself Again in Ping-xi【English Version】
For a long time, I had been searching for a place in the countryside so that I could dedicate my time in painting without distractions. I tried Ping-ling, Huang-jyu-pi-liao, San-chih, and some different locations in Hsichih, but they never worked out because of frequent floods. Eventually I stopped. However, I never stopped going sightseeting whenever I had free time.
Take San-xia for example, it’s a good place to climb high and overlook beautiful scenery; Ba-li, visited many times, I watched the famous Whale Back and Valenties’s Bridge of Shih-san-hang; Lin-kou is a prosperous city where tall buildings stand; Xin-dian is good and the Swallow Garden is pure and fresh; and then Shen-keng, Shi-ding, then Ping-ling again. I thought to myself, there must be this one place that I could find tranguility and attractive scenery. The mountain and the river must be like treasures, inexhaustible.
Just when I had this thought, I found Ping-xi, finally. Driving on highway 106, the road to Ping-xi, I saw few cars, wide road, everything was clean and comfortable, houses in countryside blended well with the natural scenery. Motorcycles passed me by with noise for a couple of times. That was the first time I found Ping-xi, and I felt different from other places I visited. The second time I went to Ping-xi, I felt like coming back home.
People in Ping-xi are all friendly; they greet visitors with warm eyes sending welcoming messages. A few lanes connected with each other and you can walk around. I am attracted to rivers, bridges, railways and the variable structures of house here. What makes it more interesting is the connection between them, for example, a train would go through the rooftop of a noodles shop, then go between two local residences, across the river and the bridge, head to the direction of Shih-fen and Rui-fang. The same railway splits into two, one of them turns to another direction, if you walk along for 20 minutes you will arrive Jing-tong, also a beautiful place with good scenery, singing birds and living insects. The town in Jing-tong is comparable to Ping-xi, the historical heritages here remind visitors of the old days, when the main economic activities in Jingtong were coal cleaning and coal delivery. The other direction goes to Rui-fang. Jump on the train and watch the attractive scenery that you can never watch enough, and feel relaxed. The train stations on the way are Shih-feng, Ling-jiao, Wang-gu, San-diao-ling, all are the places I have been when I was younger. However, at that time, I did not manage to find a suitable place to be my art studio for painting and also for taking a break from the city. Finding the right place was not easy at all.
Wandering in the morning air with a painting bag on my back is like carrying the past 30 years of joy in painting and nearly 60 years of moments in life. These years, I spent time in Ping-xi. No.17 on Ping-xi Street was found and later became my art studio, where I devote myself into art creation without daily life worries. This place of mine, a high-ceiling house without too many pillars but with much space to use and a backyard, is an affordable residence with a nice landlord. In this neighborhood, I can buy sweet desserts from the left side and buy meals from the right side; I get to enjoy the beautiful scenery as well, so I don’t have to worry about what to be the topic of my painting.
What I have seen when I grew up in Xi-zhi, I see the same scenery here, and I feel like coming back home again. This belongs to the grace of God, not because of me, so I can’t enjoy it myself. I need to paint the beautiful scenery I see and share it with the neighbors and visiting friends. If what I have done is good, that is because God gave us the beautiful scenery first. Since the sky lantern from Taiwan has made out its name in Shang-hai Wolrd Expo, Ping-xi became famous. Many visitors come here because of sky lanterns and railways; commercial activities in Ping-xi are getting more than before. I wish Ping-xi still remains in its rustic character even though people and cars are coming in. I wish Ping-xi still remains undeveloped even though it is more and more developed and artificial. I wish residents in Ping-xi remain their original personalities just when I first met them, so true and so pure. I wish Ping-xi remains the way it first attracted me.
Nowadays, people like to talk about the sky lantern in Ping-xi, but when it comes to its art value, people still don’t know (or don’t care) how to talk about it, no matter they are from cities, or from villages. Gladly I see new culture and new things are moving in and even growing up in this area, but I am also afraid that this trend of growing tilts too much toward commercial directions and without too much thinking on culture and art. If this is true, then eventually Ping-xi might become nothing special just because of this tilt of direction. Ping-xi is like a garden, flower blossoms are already here; visitors are like bees and butterflies around flowers, they spread out seeds and send messages. I stay here as an artist, trying to catch what I see here, and convey to the society.