Antonio the Artist Anchored in Chengdu

Authors: Go Chengdu

2014-07-08

He must have found something there so agreeable to his self that led to the decision to settle down in the small village in suburban Chengdu, thousands of miles away from his homeland.
It must be the garden-like environment, the cultural atmosphere, or the hospitable local people, but most of all “his circle” — a bunch of Chengdu artists with whom Antonio Wehrli can chat, have a booze, and exchange artistic experiences.

An Antonio's work about the famous lotus pond in Sansheng Village
Boasting of its lushly-vegetated landscape, flower gardens and numerous catering and entertainment facilities, the Sansheng Village in the eastern suburb of Chengdu is perhaps the most attractive place for city residents, who come to the place on holidays to take an outing, play mahjong, enjoy countryside homemade foods, or simply to have an opportunity to get a breath of fresh air.
But not many people have the knowledge that a reclusive clan of artists — including some of the most outstanding figures in China’s artistic circle — have chosen to settle down in some of the unnoticeable corners of the village in order to find a quiet, close-to-nature nook for their creative career.
“we should make a stop here”
One member of mysterious clan is a young guy from the Switzerland, Antonio Wehrli, who have lived with his wife, a girl from Anhui province in eastern China, at a farm house in the village for almost 3 years.
“I said to my wife ‘we should make a stop here’,” Antonio recalled their first visit to Chengdu, June 2011. An avid fan of photographing, Antonio has traveled extensively — he has been to more than50 countries and regions around the world. “It is here that I got the serenity I was looking for, the agreeable environs and nice people,” he added. He and his wife took two days to find and rent a house in the village and made it their home in Chengdu.
Life in Sansheng Village
The house is an old two-story ordinary building for local farmers, with a large balcony on the top floor. “The balcony is my favorite. Sitting here with a tea, talking with friends… I love it!” Antonio admitted that it was the the time he stood on the balcony, looking at the nearby bamboo forest and beyond, that he made up his mind to sign the contract with the house owner.
In 2012, he had his works, a series of abstract paintings on China’s landscape, exhibited at Blue Roof Art Gallery and XLY Modern Art Gallery, two of the wellknown art galleries in China and also in the village. The exhibition attracted great attention from visitors to the scene and artwork collectors.
Career in Chengdu
“Painting is a creation process that is different from photography which is meant to present a world that does not really exist,”said Antonio, who was born in Zurich and became an artist specializing in architecture and portrait photography.
Antonio has experimented with a technique dubbed by him as “structurism” which, as he explained, is aimed to create a pronounced 3-dimensional effect featuring a raised landscape that befits a perspective from the bird’s view. “This is my own way of painting, ‘cause nobody did it before,”Antonio said, “but it’s also a time-consuming process since I have to wait till one layer to dry before the next application of paint — about 1 month in summer and more time in winter.”
“I dreamed to be a flying bird when I was a kid, and that’s the reason why I try to make things ‘stand up’ on the canvas. I just want to show a new angle to look at the world — the angle of a bird from above.”
Inspiration of Tai Chi
Antonio has three rooms on the first floor for his paintings, and each of the rooms is equipped with a dehumidifier.
The lotus and giant panda are the main themes for Antonio’s recent creation because he “has fallen in love with” the surroundings of his dwelling and the city of Chengdu, as he explained. Back in the Switzerland years ago, Antonio took Tai Chi courses at local kungfu schools, and he has developed interest in the traditional Chinese philosophy. “Look at my recent works of lotuses. The undulating blue and green lines, like waves, come from my understanding of Tai Chi philosophy.”
Antonio flies back to his home country once a year for a short stay and is always eager to come back to his little house in Chengdu. “For me, Chengdu is a city with magnetic force that gives me the inspirations for a creative career,” He said.

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