We are pleased to present a new solo exhibition by Chinese-American artist Mu Pan. “Another Journey to the West” showcases a new body of original drawings, following the ones we presented in October 2022 at Asia Now art fair in Paris. Some of these are original illustrations commissioned for a re-edition of the book Journey to the West by Folio Society (UK), to be released in March 2023, while others are personal interpretations of two other classic books of Chinese literature, Dream of the Red Chamber, and Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Journey to the West is a medieval epic novel by Chinese author Wu Cheng’en, recounting the incredible adventures of Monkey King. Accompanied by a merry band of monks, a dragon transformed into a horse, a promiscuous pig-monk, and a repentant soldier, Monkey King leads the reader through the comical situations and traps that punctuate their quest for sacred Buddhist texts, that they must bring back from India to China. This divisive character is at the center of the story of Journey To The West, and its true hero. A monkey with a cynical sense of humor, he becomes, by dint of provocations and battles, practically invincible.
A monument of classic literature in Asia, the book is still the subject of multiple adaptations on screen and in print (including the famous Japanese anime Dragon Ball). It has influenced generations of young Chinese people (and beyond), including Mu Pan, who all have become attached to Monkey King.
For the new publication of the book in English by Folio Society, the publisher commissioned Mu Pan to create a set of illustrations to accompany a large excerpt from the novel (counting originally 1000 pages). The illustrations include the most iconic scenes from the adventures of Monkey King. Created in ink on paper, these drawings offer a different palette from the usual colors of the artist, and transpose these scenes imagined in the 16th century, in contemporary comic strips. Giving a large space to dynamic battle scenes and compositions in motion inspired.