“The Mysterious Ancient Codes of the Orient” (「遠古東方神秘符碼」) is a series of art crafts made by Dragon-Huang, which have a full range of values in the meantime of magnificence, precision, serenity, meaningfulness, liveliness, vividness, elegance, romance, auspiciousness, friendliness, naturalness, originality, quaintness, weightiness, implicitness, sophistication, mystery, solemnity, generosity. As a collection, it will satisfy the personal taste of most great connoisseurs!
Born in 1954 in Tainan, the most historic town on the Island of Taiwan, Dragon-Huang, courtesy name Zigang(子剛), formerly known as Jingting(勁挺) as well, is the creator of the series of art crafts. He is also associated with his art names of Lianrou(歛柔), Doubei lay(豆北居士), and Qizhi hermit(七指山人). Due to political and temporal factors, Dragon has been introduced to the Chinese civilization since childhood and has inherited it. Since he has never ceased to explore and study art out of his strong interest for over fifty years, Dragon could finally reach the mysterious ancient Oriental aesthetics and create his own art through such a medium.
Dragon’s interest vary widely in Chinese fine art from old times, such as garden landscaping (tea houses), ink painting, Chinese calligraphy in each dynasty, rubbings, ceramic artifacts, seal carving, Chinese poetry and prose, planting, drama, ancient architecture, and Zen philosophy, all of which are much to his liking. Dragon can conduct in-depth research in the field, regarding himself as a disciple of Laozi and Zhuangzi. Dragon has been employed to teach for National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (NTMoFA) and chosen as judges for any times both officially in provincial art competitions of Taiwan and exhibition review of NTMoFA and unofficially in many other art exhibitions around the country.
To be in line with international modern art, Dragon has not only inherited the essence of Chinese culture passed down over thousands years, but also traveled abroad to broaden his horizon. He collected information on modern arts and consults eminent artists from many Western countries, eager for knowledge and absorbing it like a dried out sponge.
Following the series of “Oriental Salon”, “Landscape Love”, “Cherish Youth”, “Chinese Itinerant”, etc., “The Mysterious Ancient Codes of the Orient” has been recently released by Dragon-Huang. This series consists of meaningful Chinese poetry, proverbs, Zen sayings, mottos and Dragon’s self-made thought-provoking sentence in the font style of ancient seal script of Shang and Zhou dynasties through modern mixed media of the East and the West. Dragon gained these characters from archaeological reports, including several pieces of literature of oracle inscriptions left in Shang Dynasty Ruin, inscriptions and family emblems engraved upon ancient bronzes, words on ancient seals from Shang and Zhou dynasties, etc. All of these characters are ancient seal script, used before Qin Shih Huang unified Chinese script. Because these characters reflect Chinese people’s need to communicate and record over thousands of years, because they are cultural conventions developing as all the life forms, and because they cannot definitely be achieved by one single man at one single time, they are rare treasures in the history of human civilization and progress. Such are the high artistic value of the script owing to its naturally smooth and richly varied font that Dragon has been fascinated since he was five (when he had not entered school yet), especially at its concisely intertwined combinations of line. Having investigated and studied hard continuously for decades, Dragon deeply understands and is even enchanted with its globally unmatched elegance.
When it comes to creating characters in ancient times, people took practicality into consideration first. However, after circulating in China’s vast land, characters changed with quite various kinds of appearances due to difference in materials, tools, and writing speed. Gradually, characters have developed into art crafts for people to appreciate its beauty, which is the so-called “calligraphy”, esteemed and promoted by Japanese as well. To spread this Eastern style of the ultimately romantic aesthetics among the world, Dragon ingeniously retains the unique qualities of Chinese characters from ancient times when he drew on subtle lines of ancient seal script in his artworks. He achieves both the dance-like sense of rhythm of the characters to be light, heavy, thick, thin, deficient, excessive, square, round, fast, slow, clever, clumsy, askew and straight, and the beauty of writing generated by naturally—non-humanly, namely the so-called “Natural Feelings” —using the Chinese writing brush during the four steps of opening, developing, changing and then concluding. It attains the exact goal to combine the four Chinese script styles (regular script, cursive script, clerical script, seal script), which was long pursued by epigraphist calligraphers from Tang and Song dynasties to Ming and Qing dynasties. It coincides with the natural and simple artistic charm advocated by Eastern Lao-Zhuang Taoists as well.
In terms of the drawing structure, Dragon arranges the picture with the ancient seal script that keeps the beauty of the four Chinese script styles through the knack of seal cutting Dragon has studied for many years. This approach is the same as the way the area of bronze seals were arranged in Shang, Zhou, Qin, and Han dynasties. The “Qi” of the script follows the improvised and random arrangements of cursive script in Tang and Song dynasties to present the simple beauty of composition including light and heavy, virtual and real, correspondence, intertwinement, intensity, etc. Just as grammar to writing, music theory to music and finding a view to photography, when every picture is required to display such qualities of artistic connotation as comfort, precision, serenity, thickness, ingenuity, subtlety, magnificence, fluency, stability, romance, gracefulness, auspiciousness, originality, simplicity, eternity, to name but a few, despite the size of the frame. It is quite challenging for any kind of art craft to appear casual when made with rigor and prudence, and hence, Dragon’s art craft richly deserves study when the series finally attains it. It is the vivid contrast between its appearance of a lively modern creation and its origins from ancient and profound Eastern cultural tradition that many art critics appreciate and recognize. While enjoying each picture of Dragon-Huang’s series, you will feel like listening to live symphony in person, sympathizing with its heart-touching cadence.
* Growing up in Taiwan where many Austronesian peoples integrate, Dragon has been impressed with the vivid images of Han folk decorative paintings around temples and folk entertainment in religious rituals. What’s more, when hired to be an artist-in-residence of Formasan Aboriginal Culture Village near the Sun Moon Lake, Dragon has contacted with many ethnic minorities in Taiwan and observe