Painting a legendary life

Updated: 2014-02-05 10:29

By Wu Ni in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Painting a legendary life

Photo by Gao Erqiang / China Daily

One part of the painting shows Mandela walking toward the viewer against the backdrop of a green map of South Africa. The background shows Mandela coming out of prison, calming down the riots, being elected president and forming the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Painting a legendary life

Behind Mandela stand more than a dozen men and women with clenched fists.

"I noticed that Mandela mentioned his friends and comrades when casting his vote," Li says. "So I painted them behind their leader, to show that the building of a new South Africa depended on the contribution of all these people."

The next part shows a white-haired Mandela surrounded by children of all races against a backdrop of the globe. Li also depicted Mandela brokering peace in international conflicts and his charity work.

Li is proud of the idea of the three green gems in the shape of the Robben Island, South Africa and the globe. They go from dark to bright, small to large. This change, in Li's view, shows how Mandela's attitudes broadened and how he achieved his idealism step by step.

The painter is now focusing on the final part, the funeral.

The painting is expected to be completed by April and will be exhibited in Hong Kong, Taiwan and other parts of the world before finally being put in a museum of South Africa.

Zhu Xueqin, a history professor from Shanghai University, says the painting reflects Chinese artists' concerns with important international figures and a quick response to major international events.