9/26/07

Catmasutra II - Afternoon Tea

This painting, completed for the Catmasutra II exhibition weaves the Catmasutra cat in and around Chinese culture! Singapore being such an urbanized city, it's easy to get carried away with all the modernity and cultural imperialism of Western culture. But somehow, everything always returns to its origin after making a cycle or several cycles. Haha I think growing up with Chinese martial arts flicks had created more of an impression than studying Mandarin in school! Jiǔ is the Chinese word for all alcoholic beverages, with the same character used in Japanese (pronounced sake) and Korean (pronounced ju), and it is one beverage commonly found in martial arts flicks (notably Drunken Fist, Drunken Monkey, etc haha). Jiǔ also had a great impact on Chinese artists as many of the masterpieces were created in states of drunkenness! (hmmm... what was I drinking when I was painting this?) The Saint of Calligraphy , Xizhi was unable to outdo his most outstanding work, "Orchid Pavilion Prologue" because that piece was completed when he was drunk! wahahaha! And Chinese tea, it's an art and let's just say I have to catch up with my heritage... in a big way!


I also remember as a kid visiting the neighborhood Chinese medicine shop, and being fascinated with the huge chest of tiny drawers all containing different kinds of herbs. I'm always surprise how by matching different herbs together, you can produce the same compounds in western medicine, but in a more holistic way. Chinese medicine views the body and nature as an inseparable unit, as is the relationship between different organs, tissues, senses, etc. The philosophy behind it is based on Taoist concepts of Yin and Yang, and the aim is to restore harmony or balance to the body. It's funny that I became interested in the ideas of Taoism only when I was studying in Canada!

Of course, there is the famous Huang Fei Hong movie in 1990, the legendary Chinese folk hero, a great martial arts exponent as well as a healer (with chest upon chest of medicine drawers, haha) . I remember walking down Chinatown in Vancouver and was immediately intrigued by the movie poster. Being a sucker for the martial arts genre (which had been dead since the early 80's), the poster was refreshingly calm, quiet, full of confidence and controlled energy, and indeed, the movie heralded the revival of the genre. It was a big hit then and relaunched the period martial arts drama. The next revival of sorts was "Storm Riders" followed by "Hidden Dragon, Crouching Tiger". Hopefully, the next breakthrough will re-define the genre further.





Take a break.
Have some Chinese tea.
Then get drunk on Maotai
(that's really quite disgusting, actually)
;)

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