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October 30, 2010

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World Expo inspires amateur painter

Zhou Minglong has been a frequent Expo-goer.

However, the 47-year-old man is neither a staff member nor a visitor caught up in the frenzy of trying to fill a souvenir World Expo passport with stamps. He simply wanted to paint all the pavilions.

"It's a shame that the beautiful pavilions will be removed so soon after the event," Zhou said.

Dressed in shabby clothes, splattered in different colors of paint, Zhou was using every minute to record the pavilions as many on-lookers watched yesterday.

"I saw many people taking pictures of the buildings, but no one was drawing them," Zhou said.

That inspired him to paint the pavilions. Zhou took leave from his job as an architect in order to visit the Expo site day after day and finish his collection.

In the past six months, Zhou has finished oil paintings of 80-plus pavilions at a cost of more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,500). He will finish one more pavilion tomorrow.

At first, security guards stopped him because he didn't have a special pass for his easel, paints and other equipment.

But his sincerity and perseverance finally moved the staff.

"They all know me and always help me carry stuff," he said.

He said it took about four to five hours to paint each pavilion and that each one is from the Impressionist School.

In the hot summer, volunteers even gave him water. On another occasion, a visitor once held an umbrella over Zhou for 30 minutes to protect him from the rain.

"I received a lot of help and I'm very moved," he said.

He is also very happy that his art has earned the appreciation of many visitors and pavilion workers.

A Saudi Arabia Pavilion official saw Zhou painting their pavilion and was very impressed.

"He wanted to buy it," Zhou said. "But I told him that I was doing it to commemorate the event. I will not sell it."

He then told the official that he could send him the painting as a gift. The pavilion official was very happy and gave him a guided tour.

Zhou gave away another five paintings.

"I hope I can launch an exhibition of all my paintings and publish an album in the future," he said.

Many art dealers have shown interest in his works and offered big sums of money for the collection. Zhou declined, saying that he could not sell them because they have special meaning. However, he said he is willing to donate the paintings to the pavilions as a special gift.


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