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BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - Ju Duoqi stocks up on cabbages in the Beijing vegetable market and then transforms the humble vegetables into works of art depicting beautiful women -- that sometimes leave very little to the imagination.
The 38-year-old said she started using cabbages in her work five years ago when she was looking for a way to bring her art together with everyday life.
"Cabbages come in different sizes and colors. Under different light and in different contexts, I can make cabbages into various forms and take photos of them that produce different moods," Ju said.
She often spends hours in the market picking out cabbages that reflect the curves of a woman's body, or that can be cut to make limbs or other accessories, using a combination of round cabbage and longer, slim "celery" cabbage.
Back in her studio on Beijing's outskirts, Ju uses toothpicks and knives to reshape the cabbage leaves to represent different parts of the body -- carving tiny hands, say, or using individual leaves for effect.
She then uses a combination of whole cabbages and leaves to form sculptures. Different stages of decomposition -- fresh, rotten or dry -- create different effects.
Once done, Ju photographs the cabbage woman as she reclines on her worktable, then reconstructs her, piece by piece, using editing software.
Sometimes a piece takes weeks, other times only days.
Ju's cabbage beauties series has been shown in Beijing, London, Paris, Los Angeles and Miami. The limited edition prints sell for 2,000 to 3,000 euros($2,900-$4,300).
In a high-end Beijing gallery where Ju's work was displayed, tourist Zhang Yong said he had become an instant fan.
"The cabbage lady looks very graceful," he said.
"The artist makes full used of the cabbages to shape the different parts of (a) woman. It is both very vivid and delicate."
($1 = 0.700 Euros)
Reporting by Elaine Lies