Modern artist Deng Hua brings art to daily life
By Li Qiong

Modern art has become increasingly popular in China over the past 20 years, with many artists trying to blend tradition and modernity. Deng Hua is one of the artists lucky enough to be a part of this trend. He gained fame at various expos across China, offering products with a nice mix of tradition and modernity.

"The handmade tea trays are my handicrafts," said Deng. "They are made of resin and red sandalwood. Chinese people like drinking tea and tea trays are frequently used. I want to create something that's in line with people's habits and also reflects modern aesthetics."

Deng's workshop is located amid furniture factories in Dacheng County, north China's Hebei Province. He often stays in the courtyard house with the wood and his tools for days, alone.

"Each piece goes through more than 20 procedures and takes about 20 days to make. When you cut a 2-meter-long trunk, you'll find that most of the patterns are ordinary. There will be few with burls or patterns like undulating mountains. I look for patterns like these and then think about what colors of resin should be used to match, what kind of pattern I should carve on it and what size it should be."

The most difficult part in the process is figuring out how to blend the resin into the wood and make sure the whole piece does not crack in the long run. And Deng has spent three years solving this problem. "I think resin is very expressive, you can make it into any shape and any color. It looks like plastic, but wood gives it a gentle touch. The combination of the two fits modern aesthetics."

Actually art was not originally in Deng's career plan. He graduated from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine 20 years ago, majoring in acupuncture. He believes his Chinese medicine studies have had an important impact on his artistic journey.

"I think the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine is probably the best contemporary art school in China because it teaches not only Chinese medicine, but also the Chinese way of dialectical thinking, which regards man and nature as one. Western art promoted this theory a long time later, like the action art."

This is exactly reflected in Deng's tea tray craft, half made by nature, half by man. "I hope every piece of work I make is unique, and conveys different scenery and mood. In case of the tea trays, for example, I think it'll be great to appreciate good scenery while drinking tea."

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