March 1 1956: Article in Jinri Shijie by Wang Shizhao

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Jinri Shijie (Today’s world)
The cartoonist Niubizi and his new works by Wang Shizhao

 

For larger image please click here, images contributed by Liang Zhangtong and Archives of Modern Chinese Art.

 

For larger image please click here, images contributed by Liang Zhangtong and Archives of Modern Chinese Art.

 

The cartoonist Niubizi and his new work
By Wang Shizhao

Niubizi is a strange man. He was the star during the epoch of the Shanghai cartoons and worked at the newspaper, Xinwen Bao. Who did not know about the cartoonist of the "Niubizi" cartoon series? But who is this cartoonist and what is his true identity? I think what an artist has in his heart will certainly be reflected in his work, thus making his work a direct reflection of himself. My image of Niubizi is a person with a rounded face, a fat physique and may not necessarily be tall.

Five years ago, I finally met Niubizi through the introduction of a friend who said, "This is Mr. Huang Yao whose pseudonym is Niubizi".

When I heard that, I replied, "Oh!" His height exceeds my visual image of him slightly by two to three inches.

During early winter last year, Niubizi was introduced to me by Mr. Zeng Houxi through a referral letter and we met again in Hong Kong. His sincerity, humility and warmth impressed me. According to my understanding, Niubizi is not only an artist but also a student of morals. His eyes were always filled with tears of compassion.

From then, Niubizi and I became very good friends. We discussed about everything from our country to the rest of the world. Recently, I happened to read all of Mr. Niubizi’s recent work. After reading his works, I began to think, "Is Niubizi a cartoonist? No! No! Niubizi is a master painter with deep understanding of Chinese and Western paintings".

Why is this so? Niubizi’s paintings first came to fame from his cartoons. As to why Niubizi drew cartoons, it was a desperate move. One day, Niubizi told me an interesting story:

Niubizi said, “Before the war, I was an editor in the Shanghai Xinwen Bao. Cartoons were lacking in the addendum. As a result, being a Chinese traditional painter I decided to make a sudden switch to become a Western cartoonist." This was how Niubizi became a cartoonist.

I said: "Yes, I have also read many of your cartoons. Psychologically, I think just like most readers, the Niubizi cartoons left an indelible impression on me and will always be imprinted in my mind."

Niubizi said: "Mr Wang, I brought two volumes of my new work, one of which is “Education of a Son” and the other is “Mr. Fluke”. Please give me your advice", then he showed me the albums. 

So, I flipped through the pictures in the albums. Each volume has fifty pictures and each picture has four stories. In total, there were one hundred pieces of pictures and each with two hundred stories.

Mr. Niubizi’s cartoons were imbued with human compassion, religious thoughts as well as traditional Chinese ethics and morals.

What was the reason for this? This was [because the paintings are] his reactions to issues of that era and to the stimulation from realities of those times. Niubizi has no fury towards the society but banking on his amazing brush skills, he took on society and the country to transmit the voice of justice which were his sincere, silent prayers!

After reading Niubizi’s one hundred pictures and deducing four hundred hints, I continued to ask: "The lines of your work are extremely strong with the correct contours. Your style is like a fusion of the strengths of Chinese and Western paintings. Is there any other secret to it?"

This time, the question really brought out the essence of Niubizi. He drawled, “Mr. Wang, I have some more works needing your advice!”

Turning around, Niubizi took out a big box from the wardrobe. Inside it contained: a long hand scroll, a flat album and a thick portfolio bag.

Oh ho! This time I really managed to dig out Niubizi’s art fountainhead.

In it contained fine, line-drawn, human characters using traditional ink and brush, Mi family’s father and son mixed with Gao Fangshan influenced landscape paintings and Thailand lifestyle scenes. Also included were pictures depicting Thai folk dancing and the remaining were landscapes and Thai scenes, just to name a few. These pictures can be described as millions of flowers blossoming, ink traces fluttering within which ink, colour, and "yun (smudge)" of brush can be distinguished.

Through the ages, Chinese paintings have invented three forms of penmanship techniques, namely, using 1) lines, 2) dots and 3) colours to be expressed. Niubizi has created for us another form of brushmanship which I am unable to classify under any of the other three techniques and I shall term it as Yunbi.

This Yun is a product outside the integration of lines, dots and colours’ techniques.

These artworks can never be produced by a painter without strong foundation!

These artworks can never be produced by a painter without great guts!

These artworks can never be produced by a painter without a solid research background!

These artworks can never be produced by a painter without immense talents!

Niubizi and I were literal soul mates for more than twenty years. It was not until today that I found out that Niubizi is a genius artist (Readers, please do not misunderstand. The genius I am referring to is that he was not born with that natural ability. What I mean to say is he is a person with talent and combined with sheer hard work and experience, he became a genius.)

Niubizi is from Jiashan, Zhejiang. His surname is “Huang” and his first name is “Yao”.  His penname is “Niubizi” which was derived phonetically which can be really amusing (as it can be translated literally as Ox Nose). He is currently living in Bangkok. In addition, Niubizi can also write “Dao Shu” (Inverted writing). Niubizi said: “People used the up-down form while I used the inverted form, writing from down to up. What others are capable of doing I will not do and I will only do what others are not capable of doing”. This is where he is unique.

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