Artist breathes life into tradition and myth

Swirling strokes: Min with his Dragon-themed large calligraphy paintings drawn using black and gold ink during an exhibition at a gallery in Tanjung Bungah. — LIM BENG TATT/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: The Year of the Dragon has inspired 43-year-old artist Jason Min to showcase its significance and values.

Min, who had prepared seven series of artwork for display, said they were meant to enlighten people about the meaning and traditions of the festive season.

The first series featured the ang pow, or red packets, with the giant ones made out of paper cutouts and smaller ones painted with calligraphy ink, each in a unique design.

“Traditionally in China, ang pows were placed under the pillows of children to ward off evil.”

He said the practice of offering blessing, known as “ya sui qian”, was aimed at driving out or minimising disasters, adding that it had evolved to include putting money in ang pow now.

“But youngsters should know that it’s not about receiving money through the ang pow. Instead, it is a gesture of goodwill during Chinese New Year,” he said at an exhibition at a gallery in Tanjung Bungah.

The second series by Min comprised nine sculptures of dragons made with wood blocks and sticks.

“In ancient Chinese dragon mythology, it was believed that the Dragon King could change into nine different forms of the dragon.

“Each type had its purpose to serve the world. So these sculptures represent them,” he said.

Min featured, in the third series, four large calligraphy paintings drawn using black and gold ink to portray the dragons’ might and glory.

Significant must-do activities during Chinese New Year were depicted in Min’s fourth series of the exhibition, painted in watercolour.

“The four paintings show scenes that were traditionally practised during Chinese New Year.“They have auspicious messages in calligraphy, offering prayers to ancestors, gathering of family for reunion dinner, and baking of kuih kapit among family members,” he said.

In the fifth series, done in acrylic paint, they depict the dragon and reunion, all of them with a backdrop of multitudes of houses with their windows illuminated as an impression that family members have returned home.

His next series is a slight departure from tradition, comprising calligraphy done on blue paper.

“The gold ink contrasts with the blue paper, which represents the sky,” he said.

Lastly, the seventh and final series of Min’s exhibition were calligraphy paintings of animals said to have evolved from the dragon.

“It was said that the Dragon King had nine sons after pairing with different animals, creating hybrids, each with different appearances, interests, and personalities.

“Each son was sent into the world with specific duties as the heir protectors of Earth and its people,” he said.

This year marks the seventh year Min has produced such a series according to the Chinese zodiac animals.

“I have been creating special pieces about zodiac animals each Chinese New Year since 2018.”

He said that the work for this exhibition took him four months.

The exhibition ended recently but those interested to arrange for special viewings can call Min at 012-489 3685.

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