What to expect at sculptor Daniel Yu’s ‘Altered Realities: A Jiangshi Introspection’ exhibition

Daniel shares how his interest in toy collecting led him to create the ‘Jiangshi’ series.

Benjamin Chew

Only drinks bubble tea with 100% sugar.

Published: 28 September 2022, 6:44 PM

Collecting toys was always a part of his life, but he never thought he could use them as a stepping stone towards his dreams. 

Back in primary school, Daniel Yu would collect toys as a hobby. But he soon realised toy companies were not making the characters he wanted, which served as his motivation to make his own toys.

He was eventually inspired by the influences he grew up with and created his unique version of the Jiangshi, also known as a Chinese hopping vampire in Chinese culture and folklore.

In a recent collaboration with art toy gallery BLAXK by ActionCity, Daniel got to display his Jiangshi figurines in an exhibition named Altered Realities: A Jiangshi Introspection.

From dreams to reality

Daniel grew up with both eastern and western influences, as he enjoyed comic books, pop culture and fairytales but also various folklore and creepy monsters.

To achieve his goal of being able to customise his own action figures, Daniel started to learn several artistic skills including sculpting and painting back in 2014.

The 37-year-old sculptor soon became known for his creations after participating in and displaying his works at conventions around the world, such as at the Taipei Toy Festival, Wonder Festival in Japan and the Thailand Toy Expo. 

When he returned to Singapore, he decided to merge the influences he grew up with to create a new character, which was his pop culture version of the Jiangshi.

A fresh take on pop culture

The exhibition displays colourful seals inspired by the Jiangshi.

Through the exhibition, Daniel hopes the public will understand that the Jiangshi concept is not limited to a horror movie trope. Instead, it can be an attractive pop culture art form.


Apart from attractive talismans, wooden models and light displays inspired by the Jiangshi are also present in the exhibition. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/BENJAMIN CHEW


The exhibition itself displays Jiangshi pieces made with different materials like resin and vinyl in different sizes. 

During the creation of these pieces, Daniel shared that he would do research on the Jiangshi by reading books about them, and consider what medium he would use when sculpting the models. 


The Jiangshi collectibles are sold in painted and unpainted versions to collectors. PHOTO CREDIT: BLAXK BY ACTIONCITY


Resin remains one of his favourite mediums to use for sculpting as he feels it has a certain weight and presence that allows more intricate details to be crafted.

Daniel also shared that he used 3D printing to replicate the models of the Jiangshi during the creation of his pieces for efficiency.

While smaller sized pieces would take one to two weeks to create, larger Jiangshi models could take a month or more.

A marriage of cultures

Daniel attempted to weave asian folklore into pop culture for Altered Realities: A Jiangshi Introspection.

He used the Jiangshi as a subject for his exhibition as he felt it was something relevant to him.

“As an Asian, I loved weird, creepy looking monsters when growing up. And when I associated that in an asian context, the first thing that came to my mind was (the) Jiangshi,” he said.


The combination of cultures are portrayed by the Jiangshis’ chinese themed costumes and western themed appearances and skin textures. PHOTO CREDIT: BLAXK BY ACTIONCITY

Daniel’s past works

Featuring many of his past works, Altered Realities: A Jiangshi Introspection is one of Daniel’s largest scale exhibitions till date.

Using Chinese culture as his inspiration, Daniel crafted the Jiangshi versions of well known characters from traditions and folklore, such as his Fortune Twins and Lunar Beast pieces.


Daniel’s creations were not limited to only Chinese culture. Inspirations from 17th Century Europe led him to create works like the Plague Oracle. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/BENJAMIN CHEW


Daniel also makes use of his childhood experiences and influences to come up with novel ideas for pieces.

For instance, he created a tiger model named Shining Wizard due to his past interest in a Japanese professional wrestler named “Tiger Mask”.

Other mediums of Jiangshi

The exhibition also introduces a collaboration between Daniel and 13 renowned artists from both local and international art scenes, each with their own interpretations of the Jiangshi.

Daniel believes that the “Alternate Realities” in the title of the exhibition means that the concept of the Jiangshi can take on unique forms, as displayed in the artworks.


Different themes were also present in some of the Jiangshi artworks, such as Mecha (robots) and Yokai (supernatural entities in Japanese folklore). PHOTO CREDIT: BLAXK BY ACTIONCITY


Abstract and surreal art styles were also used by these artists to reinterpret the Jiangshi

The exhibition is open to the public at BLAXK by ActionCity in Funan Mall at 107 North Bridge Road, Funan, #01-03.

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