Self-taught painter illustrates 100 cities

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A self-taught painter in Chongqing who spent four years creating 100 illustrations of 100 cities in China, has attracted a lot of attention online.

Pu Zhen, who was born in Chongqing in 1993, majored in animation design at college. He started teaching himself painting nine years ago.

"The most difficult part is to figure out my own painting style through constant practice," he said.

In 2018, inspired by an old notebook he had filled with the names of Chinese cities, he came up with the idea of doing a unique illustration for each.

"I just followed my inspiration in creating the city series. Each illustration reflects on a city, including its mountains, rivers, architecture or legends," he said.

For Handan, Hebei province, for example, he depicted an ancient story from the Warring States Period (475-221 BC). He drew the Twenty-Four Bridge over Slender West Lake for Yangzhou, Jiangsu province; pandas for Chengdu, Sichuan province; murals of Mogao Grottoes for Dunhuang, Gansu province; and the Temple of Heaven for Beijing.

"The biggest challenge is myself," said Pu, adding that during the time-consuming process, he had to overcome loneliness and inner-conflicts. "But I do feel happy that my works are acknowledged by many fans online."

Traditional Chinese city cultures are always worth passing on, he said.

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