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Monkey portraits by Chinese ink painting masters

Updated: Jan 14,2016 10:41 AM

Shi Ruyuan was a painter born in North China’s Shanxi province. His work is often praised as an integration of the form and the spirit, an amalgamation of sentiment and scenery.[File photo]

This year marks the Year of the Monkey according to the Chinese calendar. How do Chinese ink painting masters portray the creature that is the closest relative to human beings? Playful, clever or mischievous?

Adopting few colors, mainly black, yellow, and a little red, monkeys painted in a calligraphic way are no less vivid than primates brushed with thick oils. Fluffy yet abstract, monkeys rendered on rice paper capture the soul of the little creatures.

Are you wondering how a few brush of strokes work their magic? Let’s find out.

Wang Zhe was born into a family of calligraphers and painters in Shenyang, Northeast China’s Liaoning province. He has been studying Chinese painting for more than 40 years, and is known for his Chinese ink monkey paintings.[File photo]

Duan Jiu is a renowned calligrapher and painter. Having been studied Zen Buddhism at Mount Emei in Southwest China’s Sichuan province, Duan’s painting bears a sense of Zen. Many wild monkeys can be found at Mount Emei.[File photo]

Ning Jixian is a national first class painter. His paintings, mostly print, describe the idyllic scenery of the countryside. His work is known both at home and overseas and he has held exhibitions in several European cities, in the US, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.[File photo]

Han Meilin is a Chinese artist most recognized today for his creation of the Fuwa dolls for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He also designed the pig postal stamps for China in 1983, panda stamps for 1985 and the phoenix logo for Air China. He was named the UNESCO Artist for Peace in recognition of his long-term commitment to promoting art and artistic education in China at the UNESCO Headquarters on Oct 15, 2015.[File photo]

Ge Xianglan is a well-known horse painting master and was recognized in the art circle as parallel to Xu Beihong, a top Chinese ink painter highly proficient in painting horses. Ge’s painting, though in a Chinese style, also infuses a touch of western techniques.[File photo]

Zhang Xueqian is a disciple of the Lingnan School of Painting, one of the five most influential schools of painting in China. Zhang is currently artistic director of Advertiser Magazine.[File photo]

Liu Naiju is a painter in North China’s Tianjin municipality. He is both proficient in calligraphy and Chinese ink painting, and believes learning calligraphy has subtly influenced his painting style.[File photo]

Zhang Jing is an artist born in Central China’s Henan province. She is an academician at the China International Painting and Calligraphy Institute. Zhang is now an art editor at the Chinese Calligraphy and Painting Yearbook Catalogue.[File photo]

Cao Liufu is an artist born in North China’s Tianjin municipality. He is a skillful comic strip and cartoon creator. During the 1980s, he has involved in the design of several popular animations, including Panda Stories, Worldwide Animal Stories and Three Chicks. Some of the animations he designed have been aired in Japan.[File photo]