Eastern philosophy, Western penmanship, modern artistry: exhibition by Taiwan graffiti artist Creepy Mouse

'YiShu' is on display at Oomph! in Taipei until April 28

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Photo: 李鑑恒 Jack Lee (新支線New Extension Squad)

Photo: 李鑑恒 Jack Lee (新支線New Extension Squad)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Eastern philosophy, Western penmanship and modern street sensibility collide at the new exhibition of Taiwanese graffiti artist Creepy Mouse (異鼠).

The self-described “Calligraffiti ambassador” has produced 15 original works centering around the notion of tai chi—an idea that underpins the entirety of modern Chinese philosophy. The exhibition, named “YiShu” (易鼠), is housed by the underground, experimental art space Oomph! in Taipei’s East District.

YiShu’s 15 canvases each depict a different component of tai chi, including the eight cardinal and ordinal directions, the “four phases” (四象), the dueling forces of yin (陰) and yang (陽), as well as the encompassing concept itself.


(Photo: 李鑑恒 Jack Lee - 新支線New Extension Squad)

Inspiration for the project came during one restless night, Creepy Mouse told Taiwan News, when the eight symbols of Taoist cosmology, known as the Bagua (八卦), crept into his mind. Unable to shake them from his thoughts, the artist began researching their significance as part of tai chi.

Creepy Mouse began delving into the Yi Ching (易經)—an ancient divination text that interprets the complexity of the universe via the cycle of yin and yang. From its system of interrelated hexagrams, natural elements and other cosmological components, he drew ample inspiration for a project that is both challenging and forthright.

15 paintings line the walls of the Oomph! gallery and connect to a Bagua diagram sprayed on the floor at the center of the room. The integration of art and exhibition space instills a sense of dynamism into the project and encourages observers to view it as a unity rather than separate pieces of art sharing a common theme.


(Photo: 李鑑恒 Jack Lee - 新支線New Extension Squad)

Each canvas contains multiple layers that depict mythical animals, hexagrams and associated elements. The paintings are overlaid with corresponding Chinese characters drawn in a style more typical of Gothic calligraphy.

Creepy Mouse first picked up a spray can in 2007, but said he discovered an affinity with Western lettering in 2011. He started practicing calligraphy, learning from experts around the world, and began incorporating it into his artwork.

The artist was later invited to lead an international team named Calligraffiti, which continued to inspire his art from then on.

Creepy Mouse challenges the mirthless pursuit of perfection demanded by traditional Chinese calligraphy by introducing it to the chaotic mode of aerosol paint. By combining Western calligraphic traditions with modern street art style, the artist has produced works that offer an animated, engaging introduction into a rather complex subject.

Creepy Mouse said he derived his name from how graffiti artists are viewed in the wider world. Graffiti artists sneak around in the dead of night, he said, imprinting their messages on walls, spreading gradually across cities like plagues of vermin.


(Photo: 李鑑恒 Jack Lee - 新支線New Extension Squad)

YiShu opened April 6 and runs until April 28. Entry to Oomph! is free between the hours of 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. every day.

For more information, please visit the gallery’s Facebook page.