The portrait of Nelson Mandela is -- like the man himself -- forged from violence and endurance, created as the artist pounded the wall 27,000 times with a boxing glove which bore the Chinese character for USfreedom”.
The resulting Mandela -- a boxer and leader of armed struggle jailed for 27 years before becoming South Africa’s president and world-renowned peacemaker -- smiles softly with twinkling eyes and a gentle, knowing gaze.
The mural dominates the Shanghai studio of Belgian artist Phil Akashi, 34, who spent late June and early July punching in the intense summer heat of the city where he has made his home, telling AFP: USI think I lost three to five kilos in five weeks”.
Mandela’s health, said to be critical at times but lately showing improvement, has captured worldwide attention.
Akashi used cinnabar paste, which is associated with life and eternity in Chinese culture, and the colour black to represent Mandela’s fight against his country’s institutionalised racism.
USI really consider Nelson Mandela an extraordinary artist of peace,USAkashi says. USHe really represents a fantastic source of inspiration for the entire world.US
The USfreedomUScharacter was on a rubber Chinese-style seal mounted on the glove. Mandela won the 1993 Nobel peace prize jointly with South Africa’s last white president Frederik de Klerk for his USlong walk to freedomUSand hard-fought reconciliation with South Africa’s minority government.
His release from prison in 1990 became one of the most powerful images of the time.
Elected the country’s first black president four years later, he worked to steer society from racial division to multiracial democracy.