During the 1970s, in his capacity as artist-in-residence in the Chengdu military region. Ai Xuan had many occasions to make sketching expeditions to Tibet. The vast sweep of frozen desolation, the infinite and magnificent sky, the solemn timelessness of the cultural environment, all combined to stir in Ai Xuan a consciousness of life's meaning and of time everlasting. In this fashion Ai Xuan's realism came to be permeated with the soul of Tibetan landscape. The white snow of the plateau and the serene yet free spirit in the eyes of young Tibetan girls became a way out for him to express his feelings regarding life.
Highland in The Autumn depicts a young Tibetan child, his back to the viewer, walking alone across a desolate wasteland, under a sky roiling with tumultuous clouds. This image imparts a slight sense of how tenuous the material world must seem to one of independent spirit who has cast aside worldly care and the role played by predestined. Viewers cannot help but feel dwarfed by this panoramic view, and bewail a feeling of insignificance that has existed from time immemorial.