Chinese characters evolved from pictures and signs, and the Chinese art of calligraphy developed naturally from its unique writing system. Through the ages, great calligraphers developed representative calligraphic styles of their times. The love of calligraphy is deeply ingrained in Chinese scholars, and has been handed down to the present day.
The roots of Chinese painting can be traced back to paintings on Neolithic pottery six or seven thousand years ago. Since similar tools and lines were used for the earliest painting and writing, painting is said to have the same origin as calligraphy. Thus, Chinese paintings usually integrate poetry or calligraphy with themes that include figures, landscapes, flowers, birds and other animals. Traditional Chinese painting remains a highly valued genre, often on exhibit in China as well as other countries. The contemporary art world in China is also very active. Some Chinese artists have become adept at Western-style painting, both oil and watercolor. Many Chinese painters have created works that combine traditional Chinese painting techniques with those of the West, enhancing both forms. The China Art Gallery and other art galleries hold individual or joint art exhibitions year in year out. Art expositions are held each year in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.