|Oil painter Li Bin at his studio in Shanghai's Pudong New Area. Gao Erqiang / China Daily|
For almost a year, Li Bin, a painter from Shanghai, has buried himself in piles of books and DVDs about the life of Nelson Mandela.
Li has been engaged in an ambitious project - a 30-meter-long, 3.3-meter-high oil painting depicting the life of the anti-apartheid hero.
After paying daily attention to Mandela's declining health over the past few months, Li felt more relief than grief when he heard the news about the death of the former president of South Africa.
"More than grief, I felt relieved," says the 65-year-old painter in his studio in Shanghai Pudong New Area. "He really deserves to rest in peace, because he worked so hard all his life. Now, he will live forever in people's hearts."
Li has a reputation for painting historic events and great figures. Some of the prominent people he has portrayed include Sun Yat-sen, China's democratic revolutionary leader, and Madame Soong Mei-ling, widow of Chiang Kai-shek.
"Nelson Mandela is a hero I have wanted to depict for a long time," Li says.
He recalls that when he was in New York in 1990, he was impressed by the fervent mood of the people there when they welcomed the black leader who had just been released after 27 years in prison.