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  • Mei Lin, Qingdao ///

    • Chengyu – liǔ àn huā míng / 柳暗花明
    • Literal meaning – “Dense willow trees and bright flowers.” This idiom is often used in times of despair as a mental departure from a difficult situation. It alludes to the beauty of the world and acts as a reminder that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
    • Artist interpretation – “This idiom evokes a strong sense of classic and elegant beauty. When it came to font design, I tried to preserve the fundamental style of the character while also smoothing out the lines by adding curves. The illustration uses simple, yet abstract elements to portray poetic scenes of beauty.”

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    Wang2Mu, Guangzhou ///

    • Chengyu – nì liú ér shàng / 逆流而上
    • Literal meaning – “To go against the current.” This idiom is used to describe someone who is willing to break from conformity and is unafraid to try different things.
    • Artist interpretation – “The emotion captured in this image lies in the man’s facial expression. Through his grimace we see his endurance and perseverance in reaching his goal, while everything around him moves in opposition.”

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    Sally Zou, Shanghai ///

    • Chengyu – zhū lián bì hé / 珠联璧合
    • Literal meaning – “Strings of pearls and bands of jade.” This idiom is used to describe things that are a perfect fit for one another; analogous to the round pearls of a necklace fitting flawlessly into the circular jade bands they are coupled with. This phrase is often used to describe a strong marriage between two people or things that work together seamlessly.
    • Artist interpretation – “I wanted this piece to be a symmetrical composition so as to emphasize the continuity and harmony of the elements. The centerpiece of this illustration is traditional Chinese jade. Surrounding the jade are a variety of precious stones, totems, and pearls that come together cohesively to create this beautiful image.”

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    Coozie

    , Shanghai ///

    • Chengyu – kǒu ruò xuán hé / 口若悬河
    • Literal meaning – “A mouth like a waterfall.” This idiom describes a person who is overly loquacious and tends to babble on.
    • Artist interpretation – “The powerful currents of water represent an uncontrollable flow of words. The words coming out of the person’s mouth are powerful, but unrefined and aimless.”

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    IMKENICAN, Shenzhen ///

    • Chengyu – niǎo yǔ huā xiāng / 鸟语花香
    • Literal meaning – “Bird songs and fragrant flowers.” This idiom describes a beautiful Spring day.
    • Artist interpretation – “The fine details in the foliage and feathers of the birds are meant to evoke memories of the Spring season, compelling viewers to reminisce about the call of birds and the fragrance of blooming flowers.”

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    Hong Hua, Nanjing ///

    • Chengyu – dòu kòu nián huá / 豆蔻年华
    • Literal meaning – “The cardamom years.” This idiom is used in reference to girls in their early teens, which is widely regarded in Chinese culture as a beautiful and very meaningful age.
    • Artist interetation – “I wanted to focus on the facial expressions of adolescent girls to reflect the pompous yet innocent attitude they often have at this stage of life. The girls are lost in a bed of beautiful cardamom plants as they bud and continue to grow along side the plants.”

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    Shadow Chen, Ningbo ///

    • Chengyu – chén yú luò yàn / 沉鱼落雁
    • Literal meaning – “Make fish sink and geese fall from the sky.” This idiom is used to convey the beauty of an extremely attractive woman, implying that her presence is enough to make fish sink and cause geese to fall from the sky in awe of her appearance.
    • Artist interpretation – “This work is inspired by the wonders of nature and the complexity of human emotion. The beautiful woman in this piece appears to be sad yet tranquil, which reflects her feelings toward her own beauty and the tragic effects it has on the world around her.”

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    Momo, Shanghai ///

    • Chengyu – bàng bìng shēng zhū / 蚌病生珠
    • Literal meaning – “A sick clam births a pearl.” Clams must first endure the hardship of ingesting gritty sand before they are able to create beautiful pearls. This idiom draws a parallel to people that are forced to deal with adversity throughout their lives. It is through these hardships that they are able to gain a unique perspective on life and their surroundings, and in turn produce some of the world’s most beautiful works.
    • Artist interpretation – “I chose to use a line drawing method for this piece and incorporated some elements of plane geometry around the clam to represent pearls and other products of its experience. In its lifetime the clam has experienced both tribulation and enlightenment, and it faces it all with a smile.”

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    Su Sisi, Kunming ///

    • Chengyu – bái yú chì wū / 白鱼赤乌
    • Literal meaning – “White fish, red crow.” This idiom is used to describe signs of good fortune.
    • Artist interpretation – “In traditional Chinese culture, white fish are symbolic of good fortune. The woman featured in this illustration has several tattoos of traditional Chinese totems, including several white fish. Her white fish tattoos bring her good fortune, and with it, she is able to elevate herself above the clouds.”

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    SO.P, Tianjin ///

    • Chengyu – huà lóng diǎn jīng / 画龙点睛
    • Literal meaning – “Bring the painted dragon to life by adding a pupils of its eyes.” This idiom portrays bringing a piece of work to life y adding in intricate details. The expression is often used to describe finishing touches / last steps of a project.
    • Artist interpretation – “Eyes are the most important element in interpreting emotion and life. They play a pivotal role in helping us understand the world and beings around us. Each individual person’s interpretation of eyes is very different, and by changing unique details in a characters eyes, I’m able to alter the mood of the entire painting.”

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    Garfield.M, Guangzhou ///

    • Chengyu – zuò jiǎn zì fù / 作茧自缚
    • Literal meaning – “To spin a cocoon around oneself.” This idiom alludes to a person who makes matters more difficult “Eyes are the most important element in interpreting emotion and life. They play a pivotal role in helping us understand the world and beings around us. Each individual person’s interpretation of eyes is very different, and by changing unique details in a characters eyes, I’m able to alter the mood of the entire painting.”
    • Artist interpretation – “Delicate brushwork, asymmetrical elements, gorgeous colors; these are all things I incorporated into the piece to translate the beauty of life among the chaos of living it. The subject of the painting evokes humor while portraying an interesting view of the human condition.”

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    Tan Se, Longyan ///

    • Chengyu – hè lì jī qún / 鹤立鸡群
    • Literal meaning – “A crane standing among a flock of chickens.” This idiom is used to describe a person who towers above his peers, much as a crane would when standing among a flock of chickens. The expression can be used literally for someone who is physically larger than average, but is most often used figuratively to describe someone who transcends their peers in talent or ability.
    • Artist interpretation – “This idiom creates interesting imagery in one’s head. I chose to use half anthropomorphic characters to convey my interpretation of both the imagery and meaning of this idiom.”

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    Hua Tunan, Foshan ///

    • Chengyu – jǐn xiù shān hé / 锦绣山河
    • Literal meaning – “A beautiful brocade of mountains and rivers.” This idiom is used to describe the beauty of China’s majestic landscapes, suggesting that the vast mountains and rivers found in China’s countryside are just as beautiful as their depictions in traditional silk embroideries of the past.
    • Artist interpretation – “I utilized several different materials and techniques to create a traditional landscape painting with a modern twist. I chose to use vibrant colors to make a strong impact that would boldly contradict the monotonous aesthetics of traditional Chinese landscape paintings.”

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    Mojo, Shanghai ///

    • Chengyu – yǎn ěr daò líng / 掩耳盗铃
    • Literal meaning – “To plug one’s ears while stealing a bell.” This idiom is meant to characterize a person that is foolishly blinded by their own self-deception. Such a person would be acting with the same foolishness as a thief trying to steal a bell with his ears plugged; unaware of the attention he is drawing to himself because he has chosen to block out the ringing.
    • Artist interpretation – “People go to extremes to trick themselves into believing that their delusions could be easier to achieve if they just ignore the obstacles that stand in their way. They remain unaware of the risks and dangers, yet recklessly move forward to entertain their impulses.”

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    Broken Bike, Nanning ///

    • Chengyu – tū fēi měng jìn / 突飞猛进
    • Literal meaning – “To leap and advance boldly.” This idiom is used to describe someone who is able to progress very quickly, advancing by leaps and bounds to a higher level.
    • Artist interpretation – “In traditional Chinese culture, rabbits are symbolic of speed, much like Superman in modern culture. I drew upon the elements of both the rabbit and Superman to highlight the speed and confidence of someone that is able to make bold advances in life.”

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    Lok Ng, Guangzhou ///

    • Chengyu – fēi lǐ wù yán / 非礼勿言
    • Literal meaning – “The impolite must not be said.” This idiom was commonly used in ancient times when Chinese people lived in a very strict hierarchical society. There were many things that people weren’t permitted to say to someone of an older generation or higher social class. This expression is still used today to denote something that is too impolite to say.
    • Artist interpretation – “The flower and butterfly elements work to establish a sense elegance, while the woman’s facial expressions indicate that she is restraining herself from expressing her thoughts. Her hands work to repress her impolite thoughts, which are represented by the ink splatters that taint the image.”

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    Niu Xiaosheng, Beijing ///

    • Chengyu – fēng hé rì lì / 风和日丽
    • Literal meaning – “Gentle breeze and bright sunshine.” This idiom is used to describe the weather on a beautiful day.
    • Artist interpretation – “When people see my work, I want them to be able to feel a soft, gentle breeze and the warm summer sun on their face. I utilized a paper cut-out aesthetic, together with refreshing, cutesy colors to capture the warmth and joy of a beautiful sunny day.”

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    Lulu, Guilin ///

    • Chengyu – xiāng rú yǐ mò / 相濡以沫
    • Literal meaning – “To moisten each other with spit.” This idiom alludes to a Chinese folktale about two beached fish struggling to keep each other alive by using all the fluids they have left in them / around them to moisten each other. The expression is used to implore people to be altruistic in helping one another in times of need, no matter how scarce resources may be and without regard to one’s own well-being.
    • Artist interpretation – “The use of the black gel pen on white paper outlines the movement of the two mermaids stranded on the beach struggling to make their way back to the ocean. The bottom portion of the piece is meant to provide a stark contrast, showing life in the water thriving as usual.”

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    Shrek Su (aka: Hei Shehui), Beijing ///

    • Chengyu – jiàn guài bù guài / 见怪不怪
    • Literal meaning – “To see the unfamiliar and not express dismay.” This idiom is used to describe a person’s poise and tranquility in an otherwise strange and unfamiliar situation.
    • Artist interpretation – “The small monsters that surround the cyclops are the creatures that haunt him. If we can understand that everyone and everything has something they are afraid of, it can help us keep an open mind about the strange and unknown, and teach us not to fear the unfamiliar.“

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    Wang Na, Chengdu ///

    • Chengyu – shān jī wǔ jìng / 山鸡舞镜
    • Literal meaning – “A pheasant dancing in front of a mirror.” This idiom refers to a story in which a pheasant becomes obsessed with her own reflection while dancing in front of a mirror and ultimately dances herself to death. The expression is meant to be a reminder that narcissism is not healthy, and that one should not over-indulge in self-admiration.
    • Artist interpretation – “I used watercolor as a medium for this painting as it allows for more freedom in creating unrestrained lines. This flexibility enabled me to accurately illustrate the reserved appearance of the pheasant, while simultaneously creating a dynamic dance scene.”

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    Elephant, Shanghai ///

    • Chengyu – hóng hú zhī zhì / 鸿鹄之志
    • Literal meaning – “A swan’s ambition.” This idiom is used to describe a person with great aspirations.
    • Artist interpretation – “I wanted to create a contrast in this piece by illustrating an eagle in an aggressive attack position carrying a rose. This contrast of fierce aggressiveness and romanticism implies that a person’s ambitions may not always be as savage as the actions and attitude one must assume to achieve those goals.”

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    “Chengyu Visualized” at Hyatt ANDAZ Shanghai ///

    MORE OF OUR CLIENT WORK

    “CHENGYU VISUALIZED,” an EDGE Creative Collective exhibition of chinese idiomatic expressions @ HYATT ANDAZ in shanghai

    Storytelling takes many forms and idioms are one of the most elegant ways to encapsulate rich stories in just a few words or characters. Those passionate about Chinese culture know “Chengyu” –four character Chinese idioms–are a priceless and colorful source of Chinese myths, folktales, and historical facts that teach lessons about morality, life, and nature.

    We’ve always believed that Chengyu should be celebrated more widely and in a variety of styles, including taking a modern approach to the visual reinterpretation of the four characters that make them up and the stories the phrases tell. That’s why we’re proud to announce our collaboration with Osage Art Consultancy to curate and produce an exhibition at Hyatt ANDAZ Shanghai titled “Chengyu Visualized.”

    For the exhibition, 21 emerging Chinese artists from all over the country (all members of the EDGE Creative Collective) visually interpreted their favorite “chengyu” through typography design and artwork. “Chengyu Visualized” captures the essence of traditional Chinese idioms in a modern way, while showcasing a variety of individual artistic styles through various mediums.

    Featured EDGE Creative Collective members in the exhibition include: Elephant, Niu Xiaosheng, Lok Ng, Garfield.M, IMKENICAN, Lulu, Mojo, Sally Zou, SO.P, Shrek Su, Hong Hua, Hua Tunan, Coozie, Broken Bike, Mei Lin, Su Sisi, Shadow Chen, Tan Se, Wang Na, Wang2Mu, and Momo.

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