/ Journey to the West- Flaming Mountains

Artist

Little story behind ALIEN Art


In 2006, Mr. Yungtien Shao, the founder of YUIMOM Group, deeply felt that while senior craftsmen in Taiwan have honed the exquisite craftsmanship for decades, the general income seemed to be hard to improve. Speculating on the gap between craftsmanship and arts, he invested 12 million in the same year to assist the craftsman in the technical transformation and thus the project, Journey to the West-Flaming Mountains is initiated. However, after the plan had been launched, the global financial tsunami struck, and YUIMOM Construction (now YUIMOM Group) faced immediate financial difficulties. Even so, Mr. Shao did not postpone the development plan but chose to fulfill his promises by financial loans.

After two years of technical development, material research, repeated experiments, and countless failures of attempts, the work, Journey to the West-Flaming Mountains, finally had a major firing breakthrough in 2008 with the unique "720-degree three-dimensional circular carving skill". Thus, when one views the artwork, either from front to back, or from top to bottom, there is a full range of angles of appreciation without visual blind spot. The technique overcame the possible failures of collapse or fragmentation due to gravity or modeling principle during the high-temperature firing process, which enables the porcelain art to break away from the limitation of a heavy base and increase multi-directional see-through features and unique angles of appreciation, as the beautiful imagery in “modern drama”. As for each figure, the dynamics of the body to the hair and even the soles are entirely preserved. As porcelain dolls of the size of an elf in palm, each part of the body is flawless connected with exquisite skills. In the process of coloring, the work undergoes a process of reduction firing to deoxidate the metal oxides in the porcelain clay to its original essence, achieving hardness and a compact quality, which is not easily oxidized and stands the test of time. Fired at a high temperature of 1300°C, the porcelain develops a pure and delicate glaze with soft hues and shine without impurities, adorned with 22K gold. Viewing carefully through the light, the thin and translucent porcelain boasts a gentle simplicity with flawless elegance.

In 2008, Mr. Yungtien Shao, the initiator of the project and the founder of YUIMOM Group, had named the company in his own name- “ALIEN CULTURAL CREATIVITY INTERNATIONAL CO., LTD.” It was not until November 8, 2016, that the Ms. Yaman Shao initiated the plan to establish an art company and renamed it "ALIEN Art". From the moment on, the company focused on the cultivation and exploration of the art business, reviewed the current status of art industry and the diverse possibility in the future, with the goal of establishing an international arena for the sustainable development of local art practitioners.

Journey to the West-Flaming Mountains was regarded as the pioneering signature work that gave birth to ALIEN Art. It boasted an epochal significance. As of today, it was the first and only work named after ALIEN Art.



Journey to the West- Flaming Mountains

The well-known Chinese classic myth Journey to the West is the subject of continuous research and creation by Chinese and foreign academic circles. It represents the social thoughts of modern ideological emancipation. The story is full of mythological and romantic elements, presenting our pursuing process from spiritual liberation to the returning to the true self. For 500 years, this classic has undergone allegorical adaptations and extensive applications in the field of art and culture, including literature, theater art, film and television, music, and artistic creation. Journey to the West is a classic myth that has accompanied our growth and is widely discussed even until today.

The work Journey to the West-Flaming Mountains is inspired from the essential chapter “Sun Wukong Borrowing Iron Fan”. It tells the story that the Sun Wukong (the Monkey King), Tang Sanzang (the Buddhist Monk), Sha Wujing (the Buddist Arhat), and Zhu Bajie (the Chief Divine Altar Cleanser) encounter a raging fire on their pilgrimage to the west for the Buddhist scriptures. In order to obtain the Iron Fan from the Iron-Fan Fairy to extinguish the raging flames of the Flaming Mountains, they fight the Iron-Fan Fairy, Demon Bull King (Husband of Iron-Fan Fairy), and the Fireball (King of El Niño, Son of Iron-Fan Fairy). Notably, the scenario originated 500 years ago is freshly reinterpreted by ALIEN Art in the work Journey to the West-Flaming Mountains, in the context the 21th Century generation who read Nordic illustrated picture books, watched Disney cartoons, and Japanese Animex. ALIEN Art infused new life to the work Journey to the West-Flaming Mountains, studying the aesthetic such as modern clothing design, applying the ideal standard for body shape and the makeup of pop culture, etc, presenting a world view of Glocalisation and the advancing times.

Have a close look at the spatial layout of this work, the burning blue flames dominate the scene, while each character is surrounded by orange-red roaring fires. They seem to represent the invisible air of arrogance between the two armies intertwined with the visible flames. Undoubtedly, Sun Wukong is the most glorious character on the journey to the west. This work makes Sun Wukong appear as handsome and flamboyant as the male protagonist in the Korean drama. In the story, he is versatile, witty, and funny. Zhu Bajie shows up like the lecherous dwarf in the forest of the Snow White marching forward, while the Demon Bull King is like a statue in an ancient Egyptian temple, wearing an avant-garde armor mask, showing his mighty strength. The female protagonist, the Iron-Fan Fairy, who has perfect proportions and dressed in ostentatious costume, looks up high in her still stance. In the center of the stage, there is a messenger from the underworld who appears as both a goblin and a beast that make us fearful, just like Guru in the Lord of the Rings. In the composition of this scene, there are also foreign helpers- Prince Nezha (Marshal of the Central Altar) to help out, and The Earth God trying to make peace. To express the dramatic actions and changeful personalities of each mythological figures, the work creates the world premiere white porcelain firing techniques, to present the costumes of the characters and proportion of the models in contemporary design. In addition, the plot of the story cleverly employs the symbolic opposition between good and evil. In this set of works, regardless of humans, monsters, and immortals, they boast stereoscopic faces and exquisite contours. The figurines stare at the front, creating a fantastic atmosphere that seems to be on the same stage but independent of each other. The work combines diverse interpretations of Journey to the West in different cultures and reflects the phenomenon of global cultural flows. It not only retains traditional elements but develops modern connotations to repaint the imaginary contours of gods and demons.





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Have a close look at the spatial layout of this work, Fire Ball (King of El Niño, Son of Iron-Fan Fairy) riding above the burning blue flames dominates the scene, while each character is surrounded by orange-red roaring fires. There seems to be an invisible air of arrogance connected with the visible flames.

The Iron-Fan Fairy, holding the iron fan, who has perfect proportions and dressed in gorgeous costume, quietly look up to her son, the Fireball, who has been fighting against the Monkey King. Following the direction of her slender fingers and eyes, the interaction between each character is connected. The four-dimensional stage blocking conveys a vivid story.

Sha Wujing (the Buddist Arhat), who resembles the mysterious sea-walker in the movie Waterworld, was originally a heavenly military commander. He has wide shoulders. His face was indigo blue, and he is holding a Demon subduing staff made by the Chinese master carpenter, Lu Ban, with the Thoreau Fairy Wood from the Moon Palace, which has won him many battles.

Sun Wukong (the Monkey King) is the most glorious character on the journey to the west for the Buddhist scriptures. This work makes the handsome Monkey King appear as handsome and flamboyant as the male protagonist in the Korean drama. He is witty and funny, and displays supernatural powers.

The Demon Bull King is like a statue in an ancient Egyptian temple, wearing an avant-garde armor mask, and holding the golden chain meteor hammer in one hand, showing his mighty strength.

Courtesy of ALIEN Art

The messenger Xiao Tsui, who is standing beside the Iron Fan Fairy, is holding a Chingfeng sword and stepping on pointed-toes brocade shoes. Her neat and unrestrained posture forms a sharp contrast with Zhu Bajie.

Zhu Bajie (the Chief Divine Altar Cleanser) shows up like the lecherous dwarf in the forest of the Snow White marching forward.

This is the Prince Nezha (Marshal of the Central Altar) coming to participate in the battle. Stepping on the wind-fire wheels (the left wheel generates wind, and the right wheel breathes fire), he has the most magic weapons, and with the mighty intelligent Chiankun Hoop that can arbitrarily change its size with throwing attacks.

There is a goblin-beast like figure on the center of the stage. He is the messenger form the Underworld. His appearance is as frightening as Guru in the Lord of the Ring.

The white dragon horse, a divine beast with magical power, is the mount of Tang Sanzang (the Buddhist Monk). He is wearing a Buddhist robe, holding a tin stick in hand, and wearing a Vairocana hat. He tries to balance on the horse's back. The empty look inevitably invites the fate of being hunted.

Journey to the West- Flaming Mountains, 2008, Porcelain, 22K gold, 96 x 57 x 45 cm © Courtesy of ALIEN Art

The Earth God Entrenched above the rock block is the land of Flaming Mountain. As the middleman, he was ordered to command the soldiers and persuade peace. The wavy grey hair and grey beard exude strands of gentle fairy air.