There is a rule that has helped build the internet into what it is today: take something everyone likes and add cute animals to it. Effectively used in artwork, this concept is best practiced in seeing cute animals dressed up as our favorite comic book and cartoon characters. It is a practice that is normally put to use for no more purpose than because it’s cute. What if, however, it could be used to make a deeper statement?
Beijing artist Bi Heng decided to do exactly that with one of his latest works. The Iron Panda is a 20-foot-tall sculpture depicting a Panda, an endangered creature native to China, ready to do battle in its own set of Iron Man style armor. For anyone that wants to take it at face value, the statue is brilliantly detailed and a fun fusion between comic books and cute animals; but Bi Heng, an alumnus of the Sculpture Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, says he was inspired to make a statement about our environment and the need for human intervention.
The Panda, with his sad expression, is Bi Heng’s representation of a troubled relationship between humanity and their ecosystem. Bi Heng felt the endangered animal encased in armor similar to that of Marvel’s Iron Man was a strong message that our advancements in technology should also be used to protect the ecosystems we inhabit. This is even more supported by the use of the mystic Tao symbol, which means balancing one’s will with nature, in place of the weapons and power source of the armor.
The statue is currently set as an installation at the K11 Art Mall in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. The Iron Panda is part of the K11 Art Foundation’s showcase of works from 100 emerging Asian artists. It will be on display until July 6th.
What do you think of Iron Panda and his message? Let us know in the comments below.