LEGEND OF THE DRAGON (2015 - ongoing)

In the nomadic project Legend of the Dragon / "龍的傳說", Phil Akashi explores the Confucian notion of the great unity / "大同", and observes how modern China, and its 56 ethnic groups, is embracing diversity as an asset for a harmonious world. 

 

Escaping his studio, Akashi transformed the People's Republic of China into his artistic and spiritual playground. Since 2015, he travelled several times across the country to create a series of street art and site-specific artworks to open up East/West dialogues with local ethnic minorities and with the Han majority. In each composition, the artist employed imprints of traditional seal with Chinese characters “龍的傳人“ / descendants of the dragon to create “Sino-centric” patterns depicting the dragon as a spiritual symbol of the Chinese unity and pride for the country.

 

ROADMAP Legend of the Dragon - Phil Akashi

Roadmap of the street art and site-specific artworks, China

 

 

“Throughout the centuries, China has been a multi-ethnic society connected by a commitment to unity, prosperity and harmony. Unity is deep in the blood. That is where our strength lies and forms the basis for China's interaction with the international community.” Fu Ying, Vice Foreign Minister of PRC

  

This nomadic project has been completed through 9 chapters across 9 different provinces, municipalities and special administrative regions of People's Republic of China. The number 9 stands for completeness and eternity in Chinese culture. The emperors used to wear 9 dragon Imperial Robes and to construct 9 dragon Walls in the imperial palaces to show their great power, hope for longevity, and eternal reign of their empire. The number 9 is also reflected in the depiction of the Chinese Dragon, composed of 9 different animal resemblances symbolizing 9 different spirits.

 

 
 

Phil Akashi Baisha Village Yunnan Chinese seals and Dongba script

Legend of the Dragon, Baisha Village, Yunnan, China 2016

Dongba script and Chinese seals imprints on a wall of the ethnic minority group Naxi  

Archival pigment print on Hahnemühle Cotton Rag

78 x 112 cm (unframed) - 81 x 115 x 4,5 cm (framed)

Edition of 9 + 2 AP

 

The Dongba script is the only pictographic writing system in use in the world today. These nearly extinct pictographic glyphs belong to the ethnic minority group Naxi, based in the Yunnan province (China). The background layer is composed of repeated mosaics of imprints of traditional Chinese seals with Chinese characters “龍的傳人“ / Descendants of the Dragon.

 

 

In Chinese lore, the dragon was a divine and mythical creature with powers to bring rain, floods, and even hurricanes to a land. Along with this ability, the Chinese dragon symbolized power, authority, excellence and good luck. From celebrations to the Zodiac, to historical emperors, the legend of the dragon has played a large part in China’s rich history and culture. In modern China, the dragon remains a strong, profound and respected symbol of strength and prosperity. Chinese around the world, consider the dragon their ancestor and as a metaphor proudly proclaim themselves: “龍的傳人“ / descendants of the dragon.  

 

In a context of contemporary multicultural complexity, rapid modernization and urbanization, the artist investigates the impact of these profound influences on cultural identity. As a result, the artist aims to draw attention to the fate of ethnic minorities and to look at how these groups can find a sense of belonging. 

 

Later in the studio, Phil Akashi created a wide range of artworks, inspired by these trips, encounters and memories. These artworks are composed of repeated mosaics of imprints of traditional Chinese seals to comment on the Sinicization of the minority ethnic groups. In some artworks, the artist integrated mixed media and local materials such as tweed wool, woven fabrics, hand-stitched cotton thread to pay tribute to China's rich culture and history in both arts and traditional crafts. The artist also experiments with languages from minority groups such as the Dongba script, nearly extinct pictographic glyphs, belonging to the ethnic minority group Naxi, to infuse a poetic and symbolic sense of fragility and persistence.

 

With this project, including a wide range of media such as street art, site-specific artwork, photography, painting, work on paper, the artist continued to carve out his unique visual language bridging language, materiality and aesthetics.

  

 

Phil Akashi Xinjiang Taklamakan Desert Legend of the Dragon Aerosol spray on silk silkroad

Legend of the Dragon, Taklamakan Desert, Xinjiang, 2015

Aerosol sprayed Chinese seals imprints on silk on camels from the ethnic minority group Uyghur

Archival pigment print on Hahnemühle Cotton Rag

78 x 112 cm (unframed) - 81 x 115 x 4,5 cm (framed)

Edition of 9 + 2 AP

 

This site-specific artwork was created to celebrate the region’s textile culture and nature, home of Uyghurs ethnic minority group. The Taklamakan desert was one of the great obstacles in the path of the Silk Road Merchants on their way to the Middle East. The trading activities along the Silk Road have facilitated the transmission of goods, ideas and culture over many centuries. The artist sourced local silk and aerosol sprayed imprints of traditional Chinese seals with Chinese characters “龍的傳人“ / Descendants of the Dragon.

 

 

 


 

Phil Akashi Legend of the Dragon Hong Kong

Legend of the Dragon, Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong, 2015

Traditional seal imprints with Chinese characters “龍的傳人“ / Descendants of the Dragon.

Archival pigment print on Hahnemühle Cotton Rag

78 x 112 cm (unframed) - 81 x 115 x 4,5 cm (framed)

Edition of 9 + 2 AP

 

This site-specific artwork has been completed during Art Basel Hong Kong 2015 to witness the local constitutional principle “one country two system” with an aesthetic Yin and Yang approach. Phil Akashi explores the Confucian notion of the great unity / "大同", and observes how modern China, and its 56 ethnic groups, is embracing diversity as an asset for a harmonious world. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXHIBITION AT KUNSTHALLE ZÜRICH IN 2020 Learn more here

 

Phil Akashi Kunsthalle Zürich

Installation view, Phil Akashi - Kunsthalle Zürich 2020

 

 

 

 

EXHIBITION AND EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNER IN NANJING IN 2015 Learn more here

Phil Akashi Excellence Award Winner
Installation view, Phil Akashi - Kunsthalle Zürich 2020



 

 

EXHIBITION AT THE POWER STATION OF ART IN 2015 Learn more here

 

 Phil Akashi The Power Station of Art

Installation view, Yona Friedman & Phil Akashi