Mr Yin and Mr Yang 阴先生与阳先生
38cms (W) x 28cm (H)
Oil on Panel
This is another in my series of pictures about representing the life that you see in the day to day exploration of Shanghai. A slice of utter normality, but hopefully dressed up in a way to feel slightly worthy of artistic attention.
This very closely resembles a common sight, people playing games together. Previously i've painted a group of guys playing poker. The subject of this is 'Go', the oldest continuously played board game in the world and which is notorious for being one of the most complex games in the world. In fact, I have read that there are more potential combinations of moves in a game of 'Go' than there are atoms in the known universe. I don't know how to play it myself, but I am aware the basic rules are around piece and territory capture. You need to strategically place pieces in order to control the most of the board at the point at which you give up.
The concept of the game (and this mindboggling notion that it has an infinite quality to it) and the black and white pieces draw parallel to another aspect of Chinese culture that people will perhaps be more familiar with, which is Yin and Yang. This is the idea of dualism, or that opposite forces may be interconnected and in some kind of balance/harmony. Many components of Chinese culture emphasize balance, and acknowledge that many things may have some form of indivisible connection. The symbol of Yinyang is the inverted black and white tear drop shapes that form a circle.
Mr Yin and Mr Yang form this shape if you imagine yourself where the light is in the picture, looking down, and see the light coated guy and the dark coated guy forming a kind of rotational circle around the board. Like some kind of eternal struggle but in perfect balance.
As I did with the card players, I took a bit of a risk with the perspective here by obscuring the main narrative focus of the picture, the game. The idea is to force you to look at other things, and to distract you from thinking about the game. If you saw this, you'd never stay long enough watching to know who would win. It could go on forever and it's largely within the world of these two guys who are playing right in the middle of a world that we increasingly see as being volatile and fast paced. I enjoyed that contrast of just briefly happening upon an age-old game through a window, and then hurrying along again to do the next thing I need to do in my life.