Remembering Mr. Zheng Kunsong, Print Artist in the Lord

Mr. Zheng Kunsong stared at his woodcut works during his lifetime.
Mr. Zheng Kunsong stared at his woodcut works during his lifetime. (photo: Zheng Jilu)
By Lin MuliApril 1st, 2021

The Woodcut Prints of Zheng Kunsong, a deceased Christian artist, were exhibited at the Fuqing Art Museum in Fujian Province on March 20.

Zheng Kunsong, a native of Fuqing City, Fujian Province, was born in 1933 to an ordinary family in Yuxi Town, Fuqing City, Fujian Province. He began experimenting with woodcuts to express his life when he was in college. After graduating from the Department of Fine Arts and Wood at Fujian Normal University in 1957, he obeyed the state's assignment to teach in local schools in the mountainous area of Pinghe, where he was engaged in arts education. At that time, he was deeply moved by the rural life in the mountainous areas where laboring scenes were in full swing, which triggered his enthusiasm and inspiration to create many prints of its times.

Also a member of the Chinese Printmakers' Association and the Chinese Society for the Study of Tibetan Book Stamps, he was a director of the Fujian Provincial Artists' Association and the Fujian Provincial Art Education Research Association. Suffering from bronchial asthma for a long time, and as woodcut printmaking WAs a laborious task, he often insisted on teaching and creating prints despite his illness. In 1964, “Fruit Harvest” was selected for the National Art Exhibition in East China, and in 1984, “Tulou Welcomes Spring” participated in the printmaking exhibition in Fujian Province to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Lu Xun's birth. He is the author of articles such as “Art Classes Should Be Attached” and “A Brief Discussion on the Art of Tibetan Book Stamps”, and his works and articles were published in more than thirty newspapers and magazines nationwide, including “Fujian Education”, “Fujian Daily” and “Ta Kung Pao” in Hong Kong. He was one of the few prolific painters in the printmaking industry back then, and created over 300 woodcuts during his lifetime. Many of his works were published in newspapers such as Guangming Daily, Wenhui Daily, Fujian Daily and Hong Kong Ta Kung Pao, etc. He participated in many art exhibitions at various levels and won awards, and his deeds were compiled into the Famous Contemporary Artists of China.

Zheng Kunsong was my brother in the Lord, my teacher as well as a close friend and a colleague. He suffered from asthma and I was, in his words, his personal doctor. He was a devout Christian who said the Bible was the best book he had ever read in his life, and he insisted that the first book he would read every morning was the Bible on the desk by his bed. He said, “I suffer from asthma and it is God who gives me the strength to create”. He often had to inhale asthma medication at night, and after that, he would feel sleepless, so he gets up and creates prints. During his 30 years of work in Pinghe, Mr. Zheng had always been concerned about his hometown and relatives in Fuqing; he created a number of prints that are nostalgic for his hometown, such as “The Moon at the Home Village Is Exceptionally Brighter” and “Love of the Hometown”.

With love for his family, he insisted on sending five yuan out of his monthly salary of 20 yuan to his family to support his younger siblings after graduation. Whenever he returned home to Fuqing or wrote letters home after he got married, he would spread the gospel to his younger siblings, neighbors and friends. Zheng educated his children with the Bible's Romans 7:18 to be kind-hearted, exhorting them to rather suffer themselves than bully others.

As a teacher, he started up many art classes with hundreds of students, but he has never charged the students (or their parents) a single penny for training. Some rural students from difficult families took interest in painting; he bought and sent them papers and brushes so they can continue learning to paint, with many of them becoming well-known painters. He rested in the Lord's arms on August 24, 1987.

(Thanks to Zheng Kun Song's brother Zheng Kunhuai and his son Zheng Jilu for providing some photos and information.)

- Translated by Wylie Sun

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