First, this artwork examines the double-edged sword of isolation and breaks it into 4 symbols:
Physical Distance (Lighthouse)
Diluted Conversation (Fence)
Moral Tunnel Vision (Suspension Bridge)
Invisible Ultimatums (Tiger)
Most of the imagery originates from Kūnlún Shān, a holy mountain range mentioned in some blended Chinese mythologies as untamed wilderness, and in other texts as the resting paradise of mysterious and immortal deities, plants, and creatures. Some common elements between texts include 4 major rivers, a pillar connecting land and sky, and Kūnlún Shān’s notorious difficulty being accessed because of its steep cliffs and surrounding waters. Still, Chinese mythology details many attempts at earning immortality by reaching its peaks.
The tiger is a symbol not only in Kūnlún Shān mythology but also in Chinese astrology where it represents the pursuit of sincere love, idealism, loyalty, and independence.
This illustration follows the story of two brothers in my parable, one embodied by the spirit of Fire, the other by the spirit of Water. The Chinese elements, or “Wuxing“ (五行) are a little different than the West’s in that emphasis is placed on the transitions between phases rather than substances and their qualities. Fire is linked to warm colors, imagery of summer, periods of momentum, energy, youth, and intensity. Water is linked to winter, blacks and blues, periods of retreat, stillness, and old age.
Pieces of Buddhism’s Eightfold Path are highlighted as the brothers grow up, specifically that of the Arahant who is firmly planted in the ocean’s current of consciousness, extinguishes his fires of attachment, and is dedicated to releasing his heart through meditation.
Lastly, the delicate balance between yin and yang (陰陽) still comes to play. Yin literally means “shade” and “yang” means sunlight. Imagery was borrowed from the mention of beams of light playing across ridges and valleys.