Concept of Creation Philosophy
The Reappearing of King Kong Rhino, The Circle of Life is Endless | Li-Jen Shih

Under the eastern culture, Chinese people has deemed rhino as an important totem since ancient times. As Confucius once said: "the rhinoceros is the divine animal." Looking at the titanium horn of the King Kong Rhino, one may recall the soaring spires on the Medieval Gothic cathedral. The circular fingerprints carved on the rhino horn symbolize the endlessness of life. The modeling of armor and industrial rivet decorations remind people of both modernism and futurism. Artist also adopted an ingenious method, the use of mirror reflection, to emphasize fashion and show grandness of King Kong Rhino. My works are concrete. I prefer taking bold steps only meticulously, aiming to represent a unique eastern spiritual inspiration and inner meanings. My works express the power of immortality; make nonparallel achievements in natural, humanistic, and scientific aspects.

The Conversion of the Rhino's Obstinate Strength

Legend emperor Qin Shi Huang (First emperor of Qin) built "Rhino Array" in Sichuan, China. He located two huge stone rhinos to guard Dujiangyan, the biggest Irrigation System in China for 2000 years. Emperor Gaozu Li Yuan placed a pair of giant one-horned rhino, each weighed 6 tons, in front of his tomb, and later this pair of precious relics becomes great treasures of Chinese traditional art. My King Kong Rhino is in line with history and is made to have a dialogue that transcends time and space. Using rhino as my creation inspiration for decades, I focus and dedicate solely on this subject. My super objective is to advocate for the idea of "nature and humanism" and to preserve traditional eastern culture. Rhino, a specific endangered species, calls for love and protection as well as emblems both perseverance and obstinacy. My own life experience has been reflected by and being transformed into my art works. The rhino horn is the greatest example of positive energy. Unlimited imagination and futurism have been incorporated into my theme. Putting together my care to environment and essence of civilization, I have made works that concern with both nature and human situation.

Aristotle in his Doctrine of souls discusses three kinds of soul: vegetative soul, animal soul, and rational soul, and argues that living lives exists beyond material and spiritual life. Human, as the spiritual leader of all things, naturally assume their arbitrary power over other species, imposing lethal threat on other living creatures. The development of human is established upon cruel exploitation over nature. Many artists believe that what we have done to ecological environment is certainly an alarm and prediction on ourselves. This is also closely related to the exhibition theme of Personal Structures. What compose the structure are units of artistic trying from abstract thoughts to concrete practice. I created them because they are eagerly waiting for responses from outside; that is, to gather feedback from viewers. Those works constantly reflect connections between life and death. To some extent, the art expression, as a link to both the intangible world and the tangible world, itself is a complicated existence: on one hand, I need to reserve the independence and uniqueness of my own ideology and to understand the reality from continuously thinking and reflecting on myself. On the other hand, art is an obvious derivative; it has been transformed from two to three-dimensional form through painting, image, sculpture, and installation, etc., becoming the only "Personal Structures" in the real world.

A Link between Cultural and Environment

After research and studying them for years, I filled my works with ancient cultural connotations and implications. The auspicious anima of rhino, the mysterious charm of the sphinx, and the intriguing nature of Sanxingdui. The ancient civilization is shown vividly. One of my works, titled "The Reappearing of King Kong Rhino", is as magnificent as the pyramid, which in turn repeals the spirit of ancient Egyptian: the soul is immortal. Just as the old saying tells: "everything is afraid of time, but time is afraid of the pyramids". The art has become eternal.

My rhinos (art works) found their own spot within the grand space. They have all the features such as environmental, social, public, and regional characteristics that the contemporary art calls for. In my opinion, an outstanding work of art cannot solely rely on its external form; it must need inner humanistic spirit as its supporting element. Rhino is not a type of animal species but has been developed into a cultural symbol after thousands of years. Rhino sculptures I made would adapt to various natural and human environment to form a grand vision. By presenting new meanings of a seemly monotonous subject through design, material, color, and weigh, I aim to offer them the same quality as a monument, therefore invite viewers to feel its strength and significance. In this way, many of my works are best categorized as public art, for its objective in broadcasting the positive message to everyone.

No Trade, No Harm

Fallen leaves are a great metaphor of the endless circle of life. Sitting on the ground full of golden leaves, one could watch a series of rhino sculptures around, inviting people to walk into their natural world. Those art works vividly represent the harmony between rhino families and therefore evoke audience to think of all the parent-child relations and warmth. However, the room is so dark that form a rather depressive atmosphere in contrast with the love and care. By doing that, I want to force people to reflect on the degeneration of civilization and the cruelty of human beings. Evolved since ancient times for about fifty million years——rhinos are fierce and steady. One could see their strong spirit through their eyes, making them more unknown and mystique. Nevertheless, because they have keen horns that look special and precious, they have been persecuted by voracious human and have become an endangered species. "No trade, no harm"——Perhaps human will ultimately get hurt themselves. This 57th Venice biennale, King Kong Rhino wins not just praise, more importantly, it advocates for critical issues that should be aware by everyone who lives on this beautiful planet. Humans have a long history of receiving and taking from nature, and they know nothing about giving back. Now it is time for them to learn how to offer and strive to live in peace with the great nature. My works aim to evoke a sense of sympathy. I use traditional casting technique and transform this ancient animals into an eternal symbol of civilization and life development. Looking back to the history and art works about rhinos, it seems to me that they have witnessed the brutality of human.

October, 2017