The studio is small and cramped. One has to edge one’s way along it to avoid knocking over the tools of his trade – brushes, sticks of ink, paper, inkstones, and stamps – and a pile of letters on his work table. Cai Qibao jokes that his studio is possibly the smallest in Beijing.
Looking down on Zhongguancun South, a busy street in downtown Beijing, from an old office building, Cai’s two-room studio feels cocooned from the city’s hectic life. The other room holds a tea table, where Cai offers guests a cup of tea or a shot of wine before giving them a demonstration of how he paints. In the tearoom, a horizontally placed work of calligraphy announces the name of Cai’s workplace, “Jing Feng Ge” or Peaceful Wind Studio.
On the walls are paintings and works of calligraphy, including a portrait of Cai Xiang (1012-1067) in court costume. Cai was a prominent calligraphy master and senior official during the Northern Song Dynasty, and Cai Qibao is his direct descendant. The 44-year-old artist is a council member of the Traditional Chinese Painters’ Association.