Meeting Belgian artist Phil Akashi at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai who talks about his current project "Legend of the Dragon".
The Swatch Art Peace Hotel Artist Residence is a program designed to bring together talented artists around the world to discover a unique cultural environment dedicated to contemporary art.
The selected artists are invited to live and work in the workshops specially designed for a period of three to six months, in a community of eighteen people from all artistic backgrounds and national origins. By bringing together the creators of art in a prestigious location, the program launched by Swatch Group aims to place art in the heart of an urban space dominated by luxury goods.
Phil Akashi is currently participating at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai for six months until November 2015.
Based in Hong Kong, Phil Akashi explores and reinvents the traditional Asian seals featured on a wide range of media. His artistic practice is to use the power of the language with a cross-cultural and conceptual approach to question the contemporary world around him. Phil creates a new artistic language that connects East and West and where the past serves the present.
The artist is inspired from his youth by artists such as Ado Chale and, Keith Haring who fascinated him by his visual language widely recognized and his social activism. "It is certainly thanks to him that I make street art projects today", says the artist.
Today I appreciate the work of Jaume Plenza, Idris Khan, Gregor Hildebrand and collective ENRA.
In my new street art project called "Legend of the Dragon" "龍 的 傳說" I explore the utopian Confucian notion of the great unity / "大同" and I analyze how modern China embraces diversity as an asset for a harmonious world.
Inspired by the legendary creature of the dragon, the project will consist of a series of illegal street art and commissioned integrating the dragon as a spiritual symbol of Chinese unity and pride for the country. These works will consist of traditional seals prints with Chinese characters "龍的傳人" / "Descendants of the Dragon".
In Chinese tradition, the dragon was a divine mythical creature symbolizing power, strength, excellence and good luck. Celebrations to zodiac signs, historical emperors, the legend of the dragon played a big role in the rich history and culture of China. In modern China, the dragon remains a strong, deep and respected symbol of strength and prosperity. Chinese around the world see the dragon as their ancestor and proudly proclaim: "龍的傳人" / "Descendants of the Dragon".
As Belgian artist living in Asia, I always try to deepen my interest and understanding of Asian cultures. I want to play my role as an artist and to question the contemporary world.
In this project through China, I try to push the limits of street art while opening a dialogue with the Han majority and the local ethnic minorities. I will also try to dialogue with nature, civilization and local cultures, and perhaps try to go beyond the existing definitions of art. After each chapter, I will come back in the studio to create works related to local experience. The project will obviously grow and evolve during my trip.
This project will be completed during 2015 - 2016 with nine chapters across 9 different provinces, municipalities and special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China. The number 9 is considered lucky in Chinese culture. This is also reflected in the representation of Chinese Dragon, consisting of 9 different animal similarities.
If you could personally meet one artist, who would you choose?
It would be a weekend in the mountains with Cai Guo-Qiang, Yayoi Kusama, Takesada Matsutani, Ai WeiWei, Theo Jansen and Banksy.
Can you give us a name of museum / institution you love particularly and why?
The Nezu Museum in Tokyo for its tranquility, its architecture, its garden ... Getting a stroll and take a lunch ...