Today was the most incredible day! It started early since I wanted to go to the Panjiayuan Flea Market with Daisy and Megan in the afternoon but also wanted to finish the painting I started yesterday evening (below). It is also nice to work in the morning since my studio is flooded with natural light I wanted to take full advantage of it.
Last night I began working on the portrait of the man who takes care of gardens within the compound as well as guards the front gate. Given that he's probably well into his late 70's I doubt he takes note of the comings and goings of the compound. Every times I see him he states a polite "Nin Hao" and carries on with whatever he has at hand. Since arriving I've spotted him playing a solitary game of what appears to be a variation of dominos. Choosing to depict him in profile with an easy and apathetic expression I hoped to capture his polite disregard for the viewer.
After finishing the painting I began getting ready for the day and made a quick lunch. Daisy and Megan came into my studio promptly at 12:00pm and we headed out a few minutes later. Earlier Grace had popped in to check to see if everything was okay. When I explained that we'd be heading to the market later on that afternoon she suggested we take the bus (#988) there rather than try to take the subway. I agreed and she wrote down instructions in both English and Mandarin (in case we later opted for a taxi). I shared the instructions with Daisy and Megan and we all agreed taking the bus would be far less complicated. 45 minutes later we arrived at the outdoor market and I was extremely excited for the people we'd encounter. During my research I discovered this market drew in the most diverse sellers with vendors from all around China who travel to set up their merchandise.
We wandered around the market stalls for hours admiring the artists selling their works from painting, sculptures to hand beaded jewelry. I bought a porcelain Mao sculpture and two paintings inspired by
After exhaustion from heat and shopping we decided to return to the studios since Daisy and Ian were hosting an artist "Mexican BBQ" with the other residents and artists within our compound. When we returned to the studios we went directly to an artist's studio that is located next door to Imagine gallery. It turns out the studio belongs to Tong Zhengang! I was immediately dumbfounded as Zhengang is one of the most established Chinese Contemporary artists. He graciously welcomed us into his studio which was 10x the size of ours and into the kitchen/dining area. He was accompanied by several other Beijing based artists who live in the compound and all were very excited for our Mexican themed dinner. It was a wonderful evening filled with laughs, talks on art and much toasting as they assumed it was a custom we did during any lull in the conversation. I think we counted 17 toasts/cheers throughout dinner!
Once we finished we took a tour of the artists' respective studio, but not before Tong gave me, Daisy, Megan, Ian and Mike signed copies of catalogues of his works! We eventually called it quits after the third tour of studios. We have a long day ahead of us. Agenda: Great Wall of China