posted on February 22nd 2015 in with 0 Comments

Beijing/RatTribe/2014/pictures by Sim Chi Yin / VII/ story by Ian Johnson / Zhang Xinwen, 22, make-up artist, from Hubei. / / Zhang Xinwen: a Modern Van Gogh Ever since high school back in Hubei province, Zhang Xinwen has called himself Fan Gao–Van Gogh. For a young man from a poor background, the attraction was obvious: “I like Van Gogh very much because although he was poor all his life, he had the spirit of persistence for art which I really respectÖ I feel my own present situation is similar to his, you know, although he was from a poor family, he persisted in doing what he liked all his life. I am the same. Although my family circumstances are not good, I just want to do what I want to do.” Zhang’s mother left his family 10 years ago and since then his father has been the only bread-winner. He scrimped to put Zhang through college but he realized they couldn’t afford it. So in 2013 the 22-year-old dropped out of college and came to Beijing to learn how to be a make-up artist. “I donít try to hide the fact that I am living in a basement. My friends all know. Actually initially I posted these pictures of me with the celebrities I did make up for online. My schoolmates saw them and got very envious. They thought I was having a wild time in Beijing, running from hotel to hotel. Actually I was running from hotel to hotel, but coming home to a basement room at night.” A year and a half after coming to Beijing, Zhang is thinking of leaving. “My plan now is to quickly finish the makeup course and go back to Wuhan. Thereís nothing really keeping me here. Itís so crowded everywhere, the air is so dry here, and the food here I donít really like.î The basement, though, isn’t the problem. “Sometimes I think that is calming. Sometimes I come home alone to my basements room and I quietly think about things. Just being in a small space by oneself makes one quieten down. Itís a space where no one disturbs you. Iím used to not seeing the sun already.”

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