Well-known Chinese singer Ai Jing has returned to China after being away in the US for 10 years. Will we be treated to a grand return in the form of a big concert? The answer is no. However, she will surprise her fans with a personal painting exhibition named 'All about Love', set to open in Beijing. Evidently, Ai Jing has grown to be a renowned singer as well as a painter.
Ai Jing [Photo source: sina.com.cn]
Let's follow our reporter Liao Jibo to discover more.
This is Ai Jing's most famous song 'My 1997'.
A frank account of the singer's love for a man living in Hong Kong and her longing to go there, 'My 1997' aroused nationwide attention upon its release in 1992.
"This song gives me a chance to sing out loud about my feelings for my lover and to express my hope to go to Hong Kong. Singing makes me brave enough to speak up my mind that is concealed in my real life."
'My 1997' proved to be a lasting success. Its Japanese version was released in 1993, and its English version was delivered in 1997, when Britain handed over Hong Kong to China. It made the headlines of international press including BBC radio and the Computer Music Journal in the US, a long-established music magazine.
'My 1997' brought Ai Jing her first taste of fame. She was invited to do shows and concerts in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan. Subsequently, she established her unique sound of acoustic guitar balladry.
Besides 'My 1997', Ai Jing's other noted hits include 'A Wandering Swallow', 'Love in My Dream' and 'Story of Yanfen Street'. The music video of 'A Wandering Swallow' won the gold prize of the Chunlan Cup MTV Convention in 1993, which was China's most distinguished honor in the field of music videos.
Ai Jing's music achievements span right back to her childhood.
Born in 1969, Ai Jing showed her singing talent at an early age under her parents' tutelage. Her father is a folk music lover and a talented musician who can play numerous instruments. Her mother is a performer of Pingju, one of China's traditional operas, and she helped a lot in cultivating Ai Jing's vocal techniques.
Ai Jing grew to be a member of the Beijing Oriental Song and Dance Troupe at the age of 18. The Troupe's professional training effectively refined her singing abilities and provided the basis for her future success.
Singing around the world enabled her to appreciate classic art pieces in various top museums and galleries around the world. Not content with the success of her singing career, Ai Jing switched her focus to painting in the late 1990s. She turned her interest into professional pursuit in 2000 when she became a student of distinguished Chinese painter Zhang Xiaogang.
One of Ai Jing's Paintings [Photo source: wccdaily.com.cn]
More than 7 years of study resulted in Ai Jing's first exhibition last year with other promising Asian artists. Her debut exhibits of 'Love1' and 'Love2' earned her recognition in the field.
Ai Jing believes her experiences abroad have been a major factor in her progress as a painter.
"These experiences can all be the materials and sources of my creativity. I paint to express myself and to memorize my experiences. I am confident that I can be a good painter as I am always ready to express myself and tell my life story."
Ai Jing now has her own studio in Manhattan. She plans to spend several months there, focusing solely on painting. However, she says she will never quit singing as it will always be her first love. She is planning to do shows and concerts in China next year.
"Actually I have never abandoned singing. I pick up every inspiration during my painting to produce new songs. I would like to record all the feelings to call for more cherishing of things of beauty in this world."
'All about Love' is Ai Jing's first personal painting exhibition and will open at the Today Art Museum in Beijing Next Saturday.
For Beyond Beijing, I'm Liao Jibo.