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Monumental tribute to Nelson Mandela in Shanghai
Close up detail of Shanghai based 34 year-old Belgian artist Phil Akashi's portrait of South African peace icon and former boxer Nelson Mandela, which he forged by pounding the wall 27,000 times with a boxing glove which bore the Chinese character for "freedom", in Shanghai. Mandela, who's 95th birthday earlier this month was marked in South Africa by an outpouring of charitable deeds, with many people offering 67 minutes of service for the 67 years he was in public service, continues to show signs of improvement after two months of hospital treatment. AFP PHOTO / Peter PARKS.
SHANGHAI.- Shanghai based artist Phil Akashi pays tribute to international hero Nelson Mandela, painting a monumental portrait made of 27.000 boxing punches with the Chinese characters 自由/“Freedom.

According to the artist: “This artwork exemplifies Nelson Mandela’s 27 years of incarceration but also symbolize his lifelong brave stand for freedom and equality. Nelson Mandela is an extraordinary artist of peace. He sacrificed his own freedom to fight for the freedom of others and therefore represents a fantastic source of inspiration for the entire world.” Phil Akashi

The artist chose to use a Chinese seal and Cinnabar paste for his significance in Taoist culture; red Cinnabar was regarded as the color of life and eternity. But he firmly decided to use black cinnabar paste to honor Mandela’s struggle against apartheid. This symbolic and powerful new painting resides in the Shanghai Graffiti Park, and is surrounded by a mix of graffiti made by local street artists.

Also known as the seal artist, Phil Akashi is a Belgian emerging artist using East Asian Seals as a medium to create unique and elaborate artworks. By revisiting the traditional use of seals with a European sensitivity, Phil Akashi forges a new artistic language that links East and West and places the past in the service of the present.

"I am addicted to seals, I collect seals, I paint with seals, I love seals. Creating with East Asian seals as a medium is a wonderful opportunity to tribute and to sustain a very old tradition with passion, emotion and innovation. It is also an exciting way to advance their potential with a European sensitivity." Phil Akashi

“Nelson Mandela's long struggle against apartheid and for equality "showed us that one man's courage can move the world.'' President Obama

Phil Akashi is working on several projects and painting series.

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Monumental tribute to Nelson Mandela in Shanghai

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