Rings on Fire III

Through the repetitive gestures found in his artistic creations, Phil Akashi strives to rephrase the Asian literati tradition of text and image. Oftentimes, his text becomes the image and his images are comprised of characters, thus eliminating the categorical distinctions so that they are fluidly unified as a single entity.


This notion of merger is eloquently expressed in the series Rings on Fire. He activates the Chinese character of Double Happiness (囍) as the symbol and metaphor of conjugal bliss to succinctly question the double meanings inherent in the realities associated with matrimony. While marriage, across various cultures and countries, is perceived as a bond of lasting love between two persons, such alliances have also been sustained throughout history as a form of social institution and arrangements of political and economic convenience. 


Through the accumulation and inundation of Double Happiness characters that are relentlessly imprinted upon the surface of the xuan paper, the visual emblem of the individual character becomes not only lost but appears distorted. Seemingly simple yet complexly poignant, Phil Akashi asks the viewer to reflect on the multiple readings and meanings of marriage and its association to happiness. Through a process of mapping the Double Happiness as names of cities, Phil Akashi takes the viewer on a journey through the history of marriage… The Rings of Fires are a nomadic trilogy. The first chapter of his trilogy evokes marriage as Tradition (Rings on Fire I), then as a Challenge (Rings on Fire II) and finally as a Wisdom of Happiness (Rings on Fire III).


Tradition refers to the social and cultural values of marriage. The artworks of this part are created according to the same and repeated gestures of a routine and meditative rhythm: the artist stamping the seal. Something alienating? Lost in an accumulation of happiness, the eyes look for a way to follow. Monochromatic in grey, black, white, blue or red, these artworks are composed with quiet tones which reinforce the feeling of loss inside a multitude.


The second chapter, Challenge, explores the contemporary revolution in marriage and its consequences. The artist photographed the works of the first chapter and then digitally transformed them and printed them on Hahnemuhle Fine Art paper. He then painted the prints with acrylic to create intriguing compositions, and adds a new gesture, ample and fluid. Explosions of colors - red, yellow, white. The new shades are bright and warm. Somehow, it recalls the dripping technique of Jackson Pollock.


Combining tradition and challenge by then adding gold leaves and thin layers of acrylic using a bamboo stick, the artist closes and opens at the same time this trilogy in a spiritual way: the Wisdom of Happiness. The multitude of happiness that the artist offers, besides embodying the notion of marriage, come to redraw a city and its identity. Like aerial views, the works provide a certain sense of vertigo. Drawn according to the artist’s own system, these cities sometimes seem labyrinthic, while others look like constellations. Some of them seem joyful while others seem to fade in places, like a crumbling memory.


Phil Akashi’s Rings on Fire work around harmony and breaks, to find a kind of wisdom, which would unite epochs pictorially and symbolically. He invented a cross-cultural language, melting the Eastern and Western cultures, elaborating an aesthetic vocabulary mixing past and present, in order to express his optimistic contemporary vision of an ancestral institution. The choice of his pseudonym -mixing European, Japanese and Chinese cultures- is intrinsically linked to this desire to combine cultures among themselves in order to shape a new identity.


Through his series, mixing ancestral media and contemporary vision, Phil Akashi highlights the multiple meanings of that alliance and explores its consequences: a projection of a future and its interpretation.





Wisdom of Happiness artist Phil Akashi

Ink, gold leaves and acrylic on canvas with Chinese characters: 囍/"Double Happiness",
Hong Kong 2015.  78.7"x118.1" / 200x300cm



Phil Akashi Wisdom of Happiness

Installation view, ART+ Shanghai Gallery - Singapore Art Space






Phil Akashi Wisdom of Happiness work in progress



Phil Akashi Studio Wisdom of Happiness



Work in progress Phil Akashi Studio Wisdom of Happiness