If you can’t decide what you like better — large-scale black and grey realism or Irezumi — then Heng Yue’s massive pieces of body art will solve your dilemma. He renders the iconography of traditional Japanese tattoos in a fearsomely realistic fashion. His illustrations of time-tested motifs such as dragons, Fudo Myoo, phoenixes, and more will likely make you wonder if not believe that these figures actually exist, and they practically do because of the painstaking effort that he puts into rendering these creatures and deities is such a believable fashion.
Yue accomplishes the amazing feat of making the imaginary a reality through the use of high contrasted heavily black shading and much lighter, carefully administered grey saturation. This technique allows him to incorporate a high level of detail into each piece, especially his large-scale works. Some of his tattoos look very statuesque, while others featuring legendary beasts and religious figures from Japanese folklore seem flabbergastingly lifelike. The dynamic range of aesthetic effects that he exercises speaks to his mastery of black and grey realism.
Of all the intriguing figures handed down by Irezumi, Yue seems to have a few favorites. Many of his large-scale pieces feature dragons, but he also creates body art of other mythological creatures and figures, such as phoenixes and the Monkey King. He also creates some astounding awe-inspiring depictions of religious icons like Buddha. Fudo Myoo’s ferocity also appears to be particularly inspiring to him, given home many back-pieces he’s done of the wrathful yet wise deity. Though he illustrates a wide variety of Japanese motifs, the best part about his bigger tattoos is that he frequently combines traditional icons so that they appear to be interacting in dramatic ways.
Should you want to be wowed by more of Yue’s incredible black and grey take on the iconography of Japanese tattoos, make your way over to his Instagram. He operates out of his own private shop — Xincike Studio — in Yueyang, China if you’d like one of his large-scale pieces on your body.