Triumph Gallery is pleased to present “Present – Zhang Kai Solo Exhibition” on June 23th, 2018 at Triumph Gallery. This exhibition will present Zhang Kai’s oil paintings and sketches created in ten years from 2008 to 2018.
Zhang Kai’s persistence in his practice of art can be clearly seen throughout ten years. Firstly, he has made an iconic personification of cats and rabbits as the protagonists of his paintings, and secondly, appropriated classics from art history. His pursuit of these practices has constituted a tranquil and mysterious world, leaving a deep impression among the spectators.
This persistence is conducive to his remarkable persistence are the art system he has built up, i.e. his analysis of art history and in-depth understanding of contemporary art. In his tracing back to the art history, he set off from his aesthetic preference of post-impressionism to Renaissance, back to the Middle Age art, solidifying the foundation of his way of expression. Later, he turned inwards to satisfy the spiritual need of self-expression, and projected the self into the classical world of the painting through the anthropomorphic cats and rabbits, resonating with the spirit of the classical master.
It’s a classic way of appropriation to borrow pre-existing images. By reproducing the works of ancient masters in his own paintings, Zhang Kai reveals his linear relationship with them. His new pieceLin Quan Gao Zhi (The Lofty Message of Forest and Streams) is typical of the said technique.Early Spring, a masterpiece by the Song dynasty landscapist Guo Xi, and a monumental work in Chinese landscape painting history, hangs behind the kitten, as well as in many of his earlier works. As an alter ego of Zhang Kai, the kitten holds the Taihu Stone and forms a subtle echo with the great painting behind him. It is also one of Guo Xi’s most famous theories that the landscape painting is not only a reflection of the objective world, but also an embodiment of the literati personification. It fits well with Zhang Kai’s work. Although he paints a figurative world, he intends to avoid the logic reality and build a self-contained world to place his true self.
In addition to the appropriation of classical works, Zhang Kai is also keen on the application of multiple semantics of the text for metaphors. The two works exhibited this time,Iris and Unicorn and Iris in Hand, hide fascinating details. In English,Iris has the connotation of the rainbow and a small planet. Complying with the optical principle of the rainbow, Zhang Kai implies in his work that everyone would have their own interpretation, or even misinterpretation of art, just as they see the rainbow in different colours. “Art is more like a mirror. You stand naked in front of it. It faithfully shows everything about you.” Zhang Kai uses a straightforward metaphor to “translate” an abstruse theory.
Compared with ten years ago, Zhang Kai has reduced the narrative component in his new series, which has rendered it more unified in terms of the pure and the spiritual at its core. What’s more, although he doesn’t depict real life scenes directly, Zhang Kai still believes that his works always represent real life, that is, the real spiritual life. Aside from the narrative, his work captures the momentary sense of life.
In the past ten years, not only has Zhang Kai stuck to his chosen trajectory, but also enriched his creative techniques. As a result, the small world he has constructed in his works has become more and more solid, where the tranquility of his heart has been long preserved, alongside the fleeting moments in the noisy outside world. This exhibition is his gift, dedicated not only to those who like his work but also to his peaceful inner self.