A Sacred Bird from Antiquity
When I began my business in Shenzhen, the company had some
difficulties and I felt lost. I saw no future. One day,
while on a flight, I read a piece of news about You Xiaolin,
a painter from Chengdu. One of his paintings, Nirvana, had a
tremendous effect on me. I had never seen anyone before
representing a Phoenix artistically with the colors,
imagery, and atmosphere that he brought to the painting.
When I looked at it, the sacred bird looked as if it had
flown through a thick mist of time. Its eyes looked as sharp
as the edge of a knife. Such a mysterious blue, a passionate
red, the bright gold.
Magnificent, gorgeous, mysterious. Powerful.
As I looked at the sacred bird, I felt the pull of
antiquity, which I have always loved, but also a mawkishness
over the hardships I was experiencing. At that moment, I
shed silent tears.
I made up my mind that, when I could, I was going to collect
his paintings. Seven years ago, I went back to my hometown
of Chengdu. My journey was to You Xiaolin. In his studio, we
talked a lot. Perhaps because we are both from Sichuan, I
had a strong preference for his “Ancient Shu” series. In
those paintings I could see certain elements: the vast
universe, primitive ancient eras, the co-existence of gods
and humans in a silently flowing time, and the mysterious
ancient kingdom of Shu. They weren’t just passive
elements—they came alive in front of my eyes.
Solemn ceremonies of sacrifice. The rise of the Phoenix from
the ashes, resplendent and dazzling. It captured my heart in
an instant. I felt as if I were in conversation with it.
I had crossed time to it; or it had crossed time to me.
Since both of us were from Sichuan, we naturally had a
resonance with the culture of our hometown.
A brief history:
The ancient Shu culture was the root of Ba-Shu culture, and
the ancient Shu civilization was the seminary of the Yangtze
River culture. The present culture of the Chengdu Plain was
born thanks to the wisdom and originality of the Shu people
and their faith in the universe, in nature, and in the sun.
They were a unique people. Mysterious bronze masks, towering
bronze tree, stately and exquisite bronze statues. Shocking,
amazing, grand, romantic: these are the words Mr. You uses
to describe his reaction when he first visited Sanxingdui.
The 5,000-year-old Shu civilization is full of spirit. The
sacred bird could only be born in a place like this. I can
imagine that such a creature had really existed.
Between 4800 and 5000 BC, the Chinese people lacked the
concept of the Phoenix. They were aware of a sacred bird.
Our ancestors worshiped the universe, the heaven and the
sun, and they hoped that birds could be the messengers
between the earth and the heaven, that they could fly like
birds, “dwell” with the heavens and explore the future and
the mysteries of the universe. The Ancient Shu people had
the sacred solar bird as a totem: it demonstrated their
curiosity about a universe cloaked in time.
As an artist born here, Mr. You regards it as his duty to
bring this history to life through his paintings—and to
ensure that it is not forgotten.
From all his works, I finally collected this series, and the
paintings have been hung as a collection so that more people
can interact emotionally and spiritually with the life and
wisdom and beautiful creations of our ancestors.
Ancient Shu culture, a sacred bird from the remote
antiquity: this is where we came from.
Perhaps it is also where we inwardly fly—to our home.