Feb 162008

Ming is a Malaysian (of Chinese origin) artist and prominent art blogger, whose work you may find on 30dayartist and his art blog. His interests cover many fields of the visual arts, painting, illustration and comics to name just a few. To my mind, similarly to many artists who are and were actively involved in the business side of the trade, Ming is constantly torn between the, some would say, conflicting elements of creative expression and hard cold marketing. I may be off the mark in my psychological observation regarding his artistic output — but some of his paintings project anger, the result of this conflict, making them a fascinating playground of powerful emotions.

green dragon eye painting

As an illustrator, Ming derives inspiration from modern superheroes, including Superman and Spiderman. But the theme of today’s review are mythical creatures of a much more ancient origin: dragons. Maybe I shouldn’t be saying this, but I never entirely understood the admiration for superheroes; but then, I’m not an American, I come from a different culture. My childhood fancy sheltered folk knights and Zmey Gorynych, the Slavic Dragon, a three headed fire-spitting monster, always ending up decapitated (several times) due to its stupidity and clumsiness. Ming’s dragons, on the other hand, appear swift, elusive and generally more balanced — he comes from a different culture too.

white dragon wings painting

These paintings reveal a flair for the abstract, both in minimalistic and complex forms. The black and white version is almost suprematist in its geometric simplicity and dichromatism, whereas the green and golden orange variations enframe heaps of color that desensitize the eye from the surroundings as figuratively meaningful, marking them rather as psychological intensifiers. The abstract features feed perceptual uncertainty and, in turn, the dragons themselves “feed on it”, on the one hand implying freedom and deliverance and on the other menace and danger. The creatures may emerge as both the cause and the suppressors of a vague, possibly chaotic situation.

golden dragon lurking
I think that the drive for variety and experimentation evident in Ming’s artwork proves how resolute the artist is to carve his own niche and leave an indelible mark. Ming takes risks and is especially adroit at spicing the traditional form with popular culture motifs — often leading to surprising, unusual results — but that is not to say that he doesn’t give tradition its due. It is probably the mix of the old and the new that makes his art so spontaneous and intriguing; you rarely know what to expect, but the anticipation is always worth it.

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