Goodbye Eric Rolland, a painter for kids in rural Yunnan

Eric Rolland

Eric Rolland (Chinese name: Yu Ren雨仁), an art philosopher from France, came to Yunnan in 2009 and had been engaged in art education for village children who were affected by drugs and HIV in China-Myanmar border areas. He died of illness in France in November, 2013, at the age of 44.

Since 2009, Yu Ren and his Jingpo-ethnic-group girlfriend Fu Guosheng (傅果生) began to volunteer in Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan and Daliang Mountain, Sichuan province, teaching art for local villages' children and using brushes to paint from souls.

Yu Ren once said the children would not only survive, and they would live happily ever after.

For near 4 years, Yu Ren and his girlfriend have attended in activities with over 800 kids of 10 ethnic groups. Children’s hundreds of 'amazing artworks' had been exhibited for several times, which helped they gain recognition and self-confidence.

Yu Ren's friends said he was very kind, special and as lovely as an angel.

Yu Ren first came to China in 2006 and visited his friend in Beijing and met with Fu Guosheng who was studying in Minzu University of China. Then Yu Ren returned to France to be a painter and comedian. Fu Guosheng went back to Yunnan working in a NGO. They have been communicating with each other by e-mail since then. Yet the seed of love has been deeply sowed.

In the end of 2009, Yu Ren went to see Fu Guosheng in Yunnan and back at Fu’s birthplace---Bangyang Village. The rural kids shocked him as a lot of children’s parents were died of AIDS.

Yu Ren decided to give up work in France and settled in Yunnan in July 2010. With the help of his friends, Yu and Fu began to host a summer camp to teach paper cut, take photos and paint in oils for children.

"We told children the story of a leaf, a human life is like a leaf, and let them draw it. I will never forget their exciting eyes when they use oil painting color for the first time."

The painting project has been extended to some schools in Daliang Mountain, Sichuan. This France man and his girlfriend teach orphans to build confidence and self-esteem by using paintbrushes. Children’s drawings, named as Songzha Arts Project, have been collected and exhibited for many times. Hundreds of painting works were divided into three parts: "roads in my dream", "mountains'tears" and "the man who I missed but I won't see".

Song Zha was a name of a girl of Yi ethnic group. She was born with AIDS and died at 7 years old. She spent her last moments with paintings and papers. Yu Ren made a drawing of Song Zha on notebooks after she died.

In November this year, Yu Ren died of illness at the age of 44.

Reporters did not contact with Yu Ren's girlfriend Fu Guosheng to avoid adding more sorrow for her while recalling.

Li Yang, an initiator of a public welfare program on children education and also Fu's friends, told reporters that she could never have imagined that Yu Ren got such a serious ill before he returned to France.

"Yu Ren had a very special ability that he could help children to explore the most beautiful things in the depth of their hearts." Li said.

The painting works with the theme of "roads in my dream" created by children as using pigments for the first time. “They just need to find and experience in secrets of different colors mixing together.” Yu Ren once said.

Huayi Brothers Media Corporation has launched a children's exhibition on November 22, 2011. More than 300 painting works exhibited. Afterwards, children's painting works have been exhibited in Dali, Kunming and Shanghai respectively. People who visited those exhibitions were moved and some wanted to buy children's paints.

However, they never sold children's original works. They wanted to host larger exhibitions for children, even thought to publish a picture album.

Many of Yu Ren's families and friends in France didn't comprehend what he was doing in countryside in China. He, over 40 years old, was not obviously wealthy without obtaining stable works here. Moreover, all incomes of his girlfriend had been invested in the "Song Zha Project".

In Yu Ren own words: "I'm so old and stubborn that it is hard to change my own thoughts".

"Those amazing kids always bring endless possibilities. In fact, we can learn a lot from children, which shows a deeper understanding of ourselves." Yu Ren said. He hoped to host art exhibitions of children's paints in Europe.

On November 15, the Weibo (Micro-blog) of Huayi Brothers' non-profit foundation said that Yu Ren has left us forever. He, a France man with an angelic sort of aura, accompanied children living in the distance area in Yunnan for many years.

Wang Zhonglei, the president of Huayi Brothers Media Corporation, says: "we choose a quiet farewell for the Yu Ren. Goodbye Angel. I can only pray to the God to have mercy and protect you." (Editors: Ryan Li, Lynn)

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