LEGEND OF THE DRAGON (2015 - ongoing)

Throughout the centuries, China has been a multi-ethnic society connected by a commitment to unity, prosperity and harmony. Unity is deep in the blood. That is where our strength lies and forms the basis for China's interaction with the international community.” Fu Ying, Vice Foreign Minister of PRC

In the nomadic project Legend of the Dragon / "龍的傳說", Phil Akashi explores the Confucian notion of the great unity / "大同", and observes how modern China is embracing diversity as an asset for a harmonious world.  

Phil Akashi Baisha Village Yunnan Chinese seals and Dongba script

Dongba script and imprints of traditional seals - Baisha Village, Yunnan, China 2016
The Dongba script is the only pictographic writing system still in use in the world today by the ethnic minority group Naxi



Escaping his studio, Akashi transformed the People's Republic of China into his artistic and spiritual playground. He travelled across the country to create a series of site-specific artworks to open up a dialogue with local ethnic minorities and with the Han majority. In a context of contemporary multicultural complexity, rapid modernization and urbanization, the artist investigates the impact of these profound influences on cultural identity. As a result, the artist aims to draw attention to the fate of ethnic minorities and to look at how these ethnic groups can find a sense of belonging. 



Phil Akashi Xinjiang Taklamakan Desert Legend of the Dragon Aerosol spray on silk silkroad

Aerosol spray on silk, Taklamakan desert, Xinjiang, China 2016



Inspired by the legendary creature of the dragon, the artist employs imprints of a traditional Chinese seal with Chinese characters 龍的傳人“ / descendants of the dragon to create poetic yet "Sino-centric" patterns symbolizing harmony. In each composition, the dragon is depicted as a spiritual symbol of the Chinese unity and pride for the country.

In Chinese lore, the dragon was a divine and mythical creature with powers to bring rain, floods, and even hurricanes to a land. Along with this ability, the Chinese dragon symbolized power, strength, excellence and good luck. From celebrations to the Zodiac, to historical emperors, the legend of the dragon has played a large part in China’s rich history and culture. In modern China, the dragon remains a strong, profound and respected symbol of strength and prosperity. Chinese around the world, consider the dragon their ancestor and proudly proclaim themselves: “龍的傳人“ / descendants of the dragon.  



China map

Roadmap of the nomadic project, China 2015 - ongoing




This nomadic project will be completed through 9 chapters across 9 different provinces, municipalities and special administrative regions of People's Republic of China. The number 9 stands for completeness and eternity in Chinese culture. The emperors used to wear 9 dragon Imperial Robes and to construct 9 dragon Walls in the imperial palaces to show their great power, hope for longevity, and eternal reign of their empire. The number 9 is also reflected in the depiction of the Chinese Dragon, composed of 9 different animal resemblances symbolizing 9 different spirits.



Phil Akashi Legend of the Dragon Hong Kong

Imprints of a traditional seal with Chinese characters 龍的傳人“ / descendants of the dragon
Art Basel Hong Kong, Wong Chuk Hang, South Island Cultural District (SICD), Hong Kong 2015


Later in the studio, Phil Akashi created artworks inspired by the encounters and dialogues with local ethnic minorities and the Han majority. As a result, the artist wished to convey the importance of embracing cultural diversity.







Phil Akashi Kunsthalle Zürich

Installation view, Phil Akashi - Kunsthalle Zürich 2020






Phil Akashi Excellence Award Winner
Installation view, Phil Akashi - Kunsthalle Zürich 2020





 Phil Akashi The Power Station of Art

Installation view, Yona Friedman & Phil Akashi