A Chinese contemporary artist, famous for his paintings and drawings that look like photographs, was handed a top honor Tuesday from Birmingham City University.
Sichuan-born Leng Jun, known for his hyper-realistic paintings and drawings, received one of the university's most prestigious accolades, an honorary doctorate.
Leng Jun who graduated from the Fine Arts Department at the Hankou Branch of Wuhan Normal College in 1984 and currently lives and works in Beijing, travelled to Britain's second biggest city to collect the honor at an awards ceremony.
The artist produces paintings in incredible detail which are best appreciated up close or with a magnifying glass.
In his artwork you can observe the precision of his paintbrush, with the artist capturing the shadow cast by a sweater's thread on his subject's skin, for example. He has developed his own method and style based on traditional western techniques, which take the visual expression and realness of oil painting to a whole new level.
A spokesman for the university said: "Leng Jun's artistry has been described as 'paintings that are beyond limits' by scholars, meaning they meet or exceed the expression of oil paint material. His artistic process relies entirely on sketching, rather than photographs, ensuring that every work is vivid and intriguing in its visual effect, capturing the minutest details."
Leng's work has been recognized by major art exhibitions in China.
Leng offered some words of advice to the Birmingham City University graduands, saying "the study of art is not the same as other professions. Confucius said 'let the will be set on the path of duty. Let every attainment of what is good be firmly grasped. Let perfect virtue be emulated. Let relaxation and enjoyment be found in the arts'. The general idea is that art is the last energy or path to the soul, which is second only to morality and benevolence. It is firmly placed in front of philosophy and science."
Birmingham City University, Britain's most successful recruiter for art and design in China and Malaysia, has over 5,000 Chinese alumni with many holding prominent positions in the creative arts.
Furthermore, Birmingham City University became one of just 63 universities in the world to be given the green light by the Chinese government to set up a jointly-run higher education institute in China, when the Birmingham Institute of Fashion and Creative Art (BIFCA) opened in Wuhan in 2016.