With the sculpture “Resistance” (2017), Phil Akashi uses an analogy to explore and question the themes of political corruption and abuse of power.

The sculpture represents the imprint of the Seal of the Mandate of Heaven - the most powerful seal ever carved for Emperor Kangxi, the longest-reigning monarch of China. The seal bears an inscription “Jingtian Qinmin ” which means "Revere heaven and serve the people”. This was symbolic of Kangxi’s legitimacy as it attests to the ancient Chinese philosophy that heaven grants authority to an emperor if he serves his people virtuously. “Jingtian Qinmin ” was one of the guiding principles of the Chinese imperial system.

Emperor Kangxi, who ruled Qing dynasty China from 1661 to 1722 and oversaw an extended period of prosperity in the country, is considered one of China's greatest rulers. He is credited with establishing national stability after the turbulence of the preceding centuries. The Kangxi Emperor believed that “Jingtian Qinmin” was a prerequisite for a wise rulership. He once said that “a ruler must revere Heaven and serve the people with his whole spirit and with every fibre of his being, and that the way of being a ruler lies in love for the people”.

This imperial seal, used by Emperor Kangxi, has been auctioned at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong in 2016 for $12 million USD. According to Nicolas Chow, Sotheby’s deputy chairman of Asia: “Its value is in the history and symbolism it carries.”

“The sculpture “Resistance” is a way of tackling challenges of political corruption and abuse of power. Citizens should require politicians to be diligently more devoted to their people, instead of greed and self-interest”. Phil Akashi




Phil Akashi Winner Special Prize Open 20, International Exhibition of Sculptures and Installations

Copper and marble vinyl. 380 x 370 x 0,3 cm. 
Open20, Hotel Hilton Molino Stucky, Venice 2017



Phil Akashi Venice 2017 Resistance



Resistance Phil Akashi Venice 2017 OPEN20



Resistance Phil Akashi Copper Marble Venice 2017



Phil Akashi Resistance



Venice Open20 Phil Akashi 7



Phil Akashi sculpture copper Venice




Phil Akashi Open 20, International Exhibition of Sculptures and Installations




Phil Akashi Open 20 Sculpture Copper Marble Venice 2017









PHIL AKASHI seal of mandate of Heaven 1


PHIL AKASHI Resistance seal of mandate of Heaven 2


Resistance Phil Akashi Venice Open20






To coincide with the 2017 Venice Art Biennale, OPEN, the International Exhibition of Sculptures and Installations, will reach its twentieth edition. The idea of OPEN is born from the principle of creating an outdoor exposure by installing a series of contemporary public sculptures in Venice during the Venice International Film Festival and it is based on the meaningful principle to invite an artist to each participating nation to represent their country in a prestigious and international cultural environment. Artists who exhibited at Open include Keith HaringJulian SchnabelYoko OnoNiki de Saint-PhalleBernar VenetMimmo RotellaMagdalena AbakanowiczCésarArmanCarl AndreDennis HopperFeng MengboChen Zhen, and Ju Ming.


OPEN retraces its history through some of the most significant names in contemporary art who have taken part in OPEN such as Yoko Ono, who will present the world première of INVISIBLE PEOPLE, a project that has required long preparation: a symbolic and metaphoric vision of the journey of migrants, between imagination and poetry, so as not to forget. The return to the Hotel Excelsior and the return of ORLAN with a site specific installation based on Le Plan du Film, an important series conceived in 2001 in search of what Jean-Luc Godard called “the reverse of the cinema”: a work on the creation of a film in reverse starting from the communication and advertising of a cinematographic work, unique aspects, in this ingenious fiction, that make the film real.


Phil Akashi will present a new work, Resistance, at the Fondamenta of Hilton Molino Stucky. This work is a sculpture reproducing the ancient seal of the “Mandate of Heaven” as a symbol of the fight against political corruption and abuse of power. Mysterious, fascinating, elusive. Phil Akashi’s artistic world is revealed here: a travel journal, between oriental history, ancient customs and social reflection.


The curators collaborating with OPEN this year include Jon Hendricks for the participation of Yoko Ono, Philippe Daverio for Giuseppe Verri, as well as Niilofur Farrukh, Tamara Li, Nevia Capello, Serena Mormino, Bianca Laura Petretto, Elga Wimmer, Umberto Zampini and Flavia Vago.


The inauguration will present a performance by the young artist Reverie who, with PourOntani, will make a dedication with open eyes to Maestro Luigi Ontani that does not envisage any kind of quotation/recitation, artifice or expedient. It is a question of necessity and of life: tableaux-vivants, works made from life and especially the living echo of “VivArte”. In parallel Richard Humann will present Ascension, which on the occasion of OPEN 20 will create new constellation systems superimposed over our existing ones in the night sky. Humann’s art installation harnesses technology: the viewers simply hold their smart phone or tablet up toward the sky to see the Augmented Reality art.


Conceived and curated by Paolo De Grandis, co-curated by Carlotta Scarpa, the exhibition is organised by PDG Arte Communications with the patronage of the Ministry for Cultural Assets and Activities and Tourism, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and by the Veneto Region. With the strength of this extraordinary formula, OPEN contributes to modifying the fabric of a city, making it an international platform of works in the open air, to show an amazed audience a new, involuntary, amazing way of enjoying art in the light dynamic of a walk outside over-familiar and restricting walls and perimeters, changing its content before their eyes.



Nutopia - Yoko Ono

Belgium - Phil Akashi

France - ORLAN

Germany - Günter Sponheuer

Japan - Kengiro Azuma

Iceland / China - Inga Svala Thorsdottir and Wu Shanzhuan

Italy - Giancarlo Bozzani, Stefano Bressani, Nando Crippa, Gillo Dorfles, Marco Fioramanti, Laura Fiume, Salvatore Fiume, Ferruccio Gard, Resi Girardello, Alessandro Manfredini, Gaspare Manos, Federica Marangoni, Davide Medri, Gianfranco Meggiato, Lucio Micheletti, Luigi Ontani, Max Papeschi, Antonio Paradiso, Gabriele Polidori, Maurizio Radici, Reverie, Marco Nereo Rotelli, Giuseppe Verri, Nanda Vigo, Laura Zeni

Norway - Marianne Heske

Pakistan - Amin Gulgee

Peru - Ana Maria Reque

Poland - Igor Mitoraj

Ukraine - Yana Rusnak

USA - Richard Humann


Inauguration: 1st September 2017

Performance Reverie “PourOntani”: h. 3 pm, Giardino Moresco, Hotel Excelsior

Press Conference: h. 6 pm, Sala Plenaria, Hilton Molino Stucky

Performance Marco Fioramanti and Ana Rusiniuc “Il Relitto della Sirena”: h. 7.30 pm, Hilton Molino Stucky

Cocktail Party 8 pm, Skyline Rooftop, Hilton Molino Stucky

Augmented Reality Experience by Richard Humann “Ascension”: Skyline Rooftop, Hilton Molino Stucky



“Phil Akashi is Belgian artist who, in his expressive research, combines European academic training with a love of Oriental art and philosophy. His travels to Asia are characterised by expressive stages that coincide in a research based on experimentations, balanced between art and technical practice, which finds its main expression in the creation of seals produced on different supports. Right from the start, it is clear that the artist tends to reduce the subjects of his works to motifs repeated in an unceasing process in which the seal becomes the sign of a space built not on the laws of perspective, but on the suggestion that the onlooker draws from them. An apparent pre-constituted order pressed by an obsessive “rhythm” that captures the attention of each onlooker with great force. A game of solids and voids, a visual seesaw of sudden concealments and revelations. Like a book, it opens to reveal truths that declare the strength of a possible and fruitful meeting between similar and different cultures. The repetition of the seal module abandons narration to concentrate on an emotional content and appropriates an independent aesthetic and semantic value, leading up to the experiments in language that trace the double treatment of history and politics, as in Resistance, a work created for OPEN 20. Here the symbol-code is only one but it is amplified in space and reproduces the ancient seal of the “Mandate of Heaven” based on a traditional concept of sovereignty according to which Heaven granted the divine right of government to those who were morally worthy. If a governor acts in an incorrect way he can be overturned. A principle to safeguard the virtues of morality and integrity of a regent, of the leader of a people, and, by extension, a symbol of the fight against corruption. Mysterious, fascinating, elusive. Phil Akashi’s artistic world is revealed here: a travel journal, between oriental history, ancient customs and social reflection.”

Text by Carlotta Scarpa, co-curator of Open20





Phil Akashi, Resistance, Long Museum Shanghai 2017



PHIL AKASHI Long Museum West Bund



Long Museum West Bund Resistance PHIL AKASHI