Thursday, 14 October 2010

Monkey King in contemporary Chinese Art

Ever heard of the Chinese legend Monkey King? Think of Spider Man, but way cooler. Monkey King Sun Wukong can ride clouds, clone himself with his monkey hair, spot demons and witches with his Fiery Golden Eyes, even when they dress up as innocent pretty girls ready to seduce. He's also a shapeshifter, able to transform into 72 objects and animals. He hates the authority and was put under a big rock and spell by the gods for sabotaging the Heavenly Kingdom, until the Journey to the West novel made him a bodyguard of Buddhist monk Tripitaka, who was commissioned, in real life, in the 7th Century to trek to India to retrieve Buddihist sultras. Alone with the Monkey King, there was Pigsy, Sandy and the monk's white horse, whom later revealed himself to be a dragon prince.

The traditional realisation of Monkey King is often in the form of opera, film and staged play, but contemporary Chinese artists have found new ways to re-interpret the classic Monkey - in a space suit with a big six-pack.

Check out the carefully handcafted toy figures by Cacooca, an enterprise based in Beijing that creates funky designs of Pandas in print and figures.

Contemporary Chinese Artist Wang Mian (not the one from the 14th century) has also produced a series of mini-sculptures featuring the Monkey King and his fellow disciples. All in somewhat a futuristic and sci-fi fiction inspired style. Wang's work has been exhibited in China and Switzerland.
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