2000 Dragons

The monumental 4 x 500 foot work 2000 Dragons, executed in the millennial year (a Dragon Year in the Asian zodiac). This was a decisive turning point for Hardy in its scale and expansive gesture, as he had spent the previous four decades in near-daily practice with the obsessive precision of intaglio printmaking, lithography, tattooing, and careful watercolors. The mission goal of making two thousand dragons with no preplanned composition freed Hardy up to explore pure abstract elements along with recognizable forms.

Painting the 2000 Dragons Scroll
from the film Don Ed Hardy: Tattoo the World

Exhibiting the 2000 Dragons Scroll
Video by Mary Lynn Price

2000dragons_bookdragons2

Don’s “true passion has always been to be in the studio creating his own paintings and related objects. Those works are notable for a synthesis of Asian popular culture and folk iconography.

– Renny Pritikin
Chief Curator, Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco

“While Don Ed Hardy is a legendary proponent of tattoo practice, research and documentation, an argument can be made that that work has been an avocation, and that his true passion has always been to be in the studio creating his own paintings and related objects. Those works are notable for a synthesis of Asian popular culture and folk iconography with Hardy’s hometown Los Angeles fifties-era surfing and hot rod visual references, and tattoo. While tattooing requires extreme discipline of the hand, painting allows Hardy to loosen up, be imperfect, even unfinished, like the Bay Area figurative abstractionists of his youth. Whether on canvas or on porcelain, these paintings evoke an ethos not unrelated to tattoo, a kind of blue-collar obsession with death, danger and violence, a carny back-of-the-hand to art world preciousness. Then all that is negated by the next thing you see, perhaps an evanescent Japanese ghost in indigo on a perfectly rounded whiter-than-white ceramic vessel.”

Renny Pritikin
Chief Curator, Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco
read essay (PDF)