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Calligraphy and Painting
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Chinese characters evolved from pictures and signs, and the Chinese art of calligraphy developed naturally from its unique writing system. Every dynasty had its great calligraphers whose styles came to symbolize their age, and the Chinese people's love of calligraphy stems from that tradition.

Different from Western oil painting, traditional Chinese painting is characterized by unique forms of expression. Its roots can be traced back to paintings on Neolithic pottery 6,000-7,000 years ago. Since similar tools were used to draw the lines of the earliest painting and writing, painting and calligraphy are said to share the same origins. Chinese paintings usually include poetry or calligraphy, thus the three are integrated, providing a richer aesthetic experience. Figure, landscape, and flower-and-bird paintings are major traditional painting genres, still highly valued today.

Contemporary painting and calligraphy are still very active. The National Art Museum of China and others hold individual or joint exhibitions every year, and exhibitions of traditional Chinese painting have been held in Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United States, Canada and Europe. Chinese artists have also made remarkable progress in Western-style oil painting, woodcut and watercolor and many have created works that combine traditional Chinese style with Western techniques, adding splendor to both forms. New media art works, including video, digital, animated and audio art, are frequently seen at domestic and overseas exhibitions.

In March 1994, the newly founded China Guardian Auctions held an auction of Chinese painting, calligraphy and oil painting at Beijing's Great Wall Sheraton Hotel, resulting in transactions totaling 14.2 million yuan and setting a record for mainland China's artwork auctions. The 2005 autumn auction raised nearly 700 million yuan in transactions, almost 50 times the 1994 total. Art galleries too are catching up with international practice. Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou take turns to host an annual art exposition, adding a new channel for trading in art; the Shanghai Art Fair boasts the greatest variety of artworks of any fair in Asia.

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