Gianluca Costantini
Political Comics

Portrait of Ai Qing 艾青

Drawing from the book: “Le cicatrici tra i miei denti” 

Aì Qīng 艾青

He was born in Fantianjiang village (贩田蒋), Jinhua county, in eastern China’s Zhejiang province. After entering Hangzhou Xihu Art School in 1928, under the advice of principal Lin Fengmian, he went abroad and studied in Paris the following spring. From 1929 to 1932 while studying in France, besides learning art of Renoir and Van Gogh, the philosophy of Kant and Hegel, he also studied modern poets such as Mayakovsky and was especially influenced by Belgian poet Verhaeren.

After returning to Shanghai, China in May 1932, he joined China Left Wing Artist Association, and was arrested in July for opposing the Kuomintang. During his imprisonment, Ai Qing translated Verhaeren’s poems and wrote his first book Dayanhe—My Nurse (大堰河—我的保姆), “Reed Flute” (芦笛), and “Paris” (巴黎). He was finally released in October 1935.

After the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, Ai Qing wrote “Snowfall on the Land” (雪落在中国的土地上) after arriving at Wuhan to support the war effort. In 1938, he moved to Guilin to become the editor of “Guixi Daily” newspaper. In 1940, he became the dean of the Chinese department at Chongqing YuCai University.

In 1941, he moved to Yan’an, and joined the Chinese Communist Party in the subsequent year. Beginning in 1949, he was on cultural committees. He was editor of Poetry Magazine, and associate editor of People’s Literature.

However, in 1957, during the Anti-Rightist Movement, he defended Ding Ling, was accused of “rightism”, and in 1958 exiled to farms in northeast China, and then in 1959 transferred to Xinjiang by the Communist authorities. During the period of the Cultural Revolution he was forced to work daily cleaning the communal toilets for his village of about 200 people, a physically demanding job he was required to carry out for five years, then aged in his 60s. According to an account by his son Ai Weiwei, he lost vision in one of his eyes due to lack of nutrition. He was not allowed to publish his works Return Song(《归来的歌》) and Ode to Light(《光的赞歌》) until he was reinstated in 1979. In 1979, he was vice-chairman of the Chinese Writers Association.

He made a second journey to France in 1980, and in 1985 French president François Mitterrand awarded him the title of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters.

China / Le cicatrici tra i miei denti

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