By Shi Xiaofeng in Hangzhou and Zhu Lixin in Hefei (China Daily)
Park officials want it removed; others say it should remain as a tourist attraction
A rock climber spent two months painting a portrait of the man she admires on the face of a cliff in Xianju county, Zhejiang province. But her expression of love will soon be removed at the request of the local tourism authority.
The image of a man’s smiling face, about 6 meters tall, was painted on the face of Fanzheng Rock in Xianju National Park. The rock rises 281 meters atop a 500-meter-high mountain.
The painting was created in a recess of the rock, and its existence wasn’t discovered until another climber posted photos of it online. The photo went viral, with netizens referring to the “rock painting of love”.
A 34-year-old female bank clerk from Jiaojiang district, Taizhou city, was quoted by FM93 radio as saying she did the painting.
The woman, who declined to give her name, said the man in the portrait is an experienced rock climber known locally for being the first to attempt to climb Fanzheng Rock using hands and feet only, with no rope or other protection, in 2012. He got stuck midway up the cliff and had to be rescued.
The woman tried several means to win his heart, but the man didn’t respond to her advances. Finally, she decided to paint his image at his high point, “leaving him up there for worship”.
Starting in July, the woman traveled to Xianju every weekend to work secretly on the painting. She used imported mineral paints that she bought for more than 3,000 yuan ($450).
To allow herself as much time as possible to paint, she usually started climbing at about 3 am, so she could begin working at sunrise. To ensure that the painting was accurate, she sometimes climbed another mountain to view the art from a distance.
But the woman did not expect her secret to be discovered so soon.
“I didn’t mean to destroy natural scenery. It’s my way to pay homage to his exploration efforts,” she said. “If I am asked to remove the painting, I will do it as soon as possible.”
Xianju National Park has confirmed the existence of the graffiti and said it will be removed.
“According to regulations, such graffiti must be removed to restore the original condition of the cliff face,” park officials said in a statement online. “The national park management committee will organize experts to inspect the area and arrange the removal of the graffiti in the most environmentally friendly way.”
However, many netizens said they would like to see the graffiti remain on the cliff because of the touching story behind it, and a local media outlet conducted a survey recently on whether the painting should by removed. Of more than 3,000 respondents, 57 percent said the painting should remain in place, while 34 percent said it should be removed.
A netizen using the pseudonym “Dapi” said the painting is not ugly, has an interesting story and “has the potential to become a tourist attraction”.
Ying Jinfei, deputy head of the Zhejiang Art Museum and a professor at the China Academy of Art, said: “The painting is quite moderate in terms of its artistic level, while the painter’s imagination and the story behind it deserve our recognition.”