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September 18, 2010

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The art of astonishment

STEPHEN Wiltshire, who is known for his astonishing ability to draw landscapes after seeing them just once, is now to sketch the Expo site and other Shanghai landmarks after seeing them from a helicopter for the first time.

People will be able to see him at work in either Xintiandi, or the Wujiaochang area in Yangpu District next Thursday or Friday.

The times of his public performance have yet to be decided but will be announced later.

The 36-year-old British artist, who is autistic and seldom speaks, will tour the Expo site and other areas along the Huangpu River after his arrival in Shanghai on Wednesday.

He will then have a panoramic view on the 493-meter Shanghai World Financial Center or another tall building in the Lujiazui area in the Pudong New Area for about 20 minutes and spend two days finishing the work on a giant canvas.

The artist, who will be on his first visit to Shanghai, wants to include the Expo site, Lujiazui area and the Bund in Puxi, in his work, a spokeswoman said.

After seeing pictures of the Expo, Wiltshire said it was a pity that he drew only in pencil and was not able to draw out the colorful Expo pavilions in Shanghai, she said.

He will sign 2010 copies of his work and they will be sold in Shanghai.

The original painting will be sold at an auction.

Wiltshire became famous after sketching an 18 square kilometer area of London in 1987 with remarkable accuracy and incredible detail after seeing the area from a helicopter.

He has also sketched the urban scenery of New York, Frankfurt, Toronto, Sydney, Rome and Hong Kong.

In May 2005, he produced his longest panoramic memory drawing of Tokyo on a 10-metre long canvas within seven days following a helicopter ride over the city.

The last drawing in the urban scenery series was of his spiritual home New York in 2009.

Wiltshire was awarded an MBE for services to art in 2006. His work is popular all over the world, and in a number of important collections.

The film "Rain Man," starring Dustin Hoffman, told the story of a similar autistic savant who possessed brilliant math skills.


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