Under the influence of globalisation, Chinese diaspora artists look nostalgically back upon their homeland, infusing their artworks with emotions and philosophies related to their multi-cultural experiences. Yi Kai and Wu Shaoxiang both endured the Cultural Revolution as young men and moved abroad in 1989 to develop their artistic careers. In his abstract, often chaotic landscapes Chinese-American artist Yi Kai expresses his examination of East-West interaction as well as the relationship between individuals and crowds, and civilisation with technology. Meanwhile, Chinese-Austrian sculptor Wu Shaoxiang uses forms and symbols to convey social messages through forms imbued with humour and social commentary, particularly on the trend toward mass consumerism. Both of these artists are grappling to synthesize the more rustic, provincial China of their youth with the industrialised and globalised world in which they live now, and correlate it to the astounding transformations of commercialisation and innovation that inspire the current generation's "China Dream" of advancement and prosperity.
In participation with South Island Cultural District (SICD) Art Day 2018, Alisan Fine Arts Aberdeen will mark the occasion with a special showcasing of these artists, complete with refreshments and live artistic performances.
Born in 1955 Changsha, China, Yi Kai showed an affinity for art and drawing at an early age. During the 1970's he created art propaganda for the People's Republic of China and in 1979 was chosen as one of thirty-five from four thousand applicants to attend the Art Institute of the Army of China in Beijing earning a Bachelors of Fine Arts in traditional Chinese painting. He attained his Masters of Fine Arts from the Central University for Nationalities in Beijing in 1985, then emigrated to the United States in 1985. During the last twenty years Yi Kai's art has transitioned from his artistic education in China to abstract and colourful works that reflect the influence of American culture and expression that inform his current direction. The body of work displayed in China Dream represents a way in which to scrutinize the relationship between individuals and crowds, and especially how these connections are informed by modern telecommunication. On display are works from his travelling exhibition, which were first displayed at Claremont Graduate University in the United States and then at the 53 Art Museum in Guangzhou. The ambiguity between figures, the landscape and thoughts are portrayed in the circuit world, highlighting the connection between people and technological networks.
Alisan Fine Arts first exhibited Yi Kai's works in 1990 as part of Landscapes, Figures, Flowers & Birds: Variation from China held at the Hong Kong Arts Centre. Since then the gallery has organised three solo exhibitions for the artist, the last in 2015. Yi Kai's paintings have been collected by the Minnesota Museum of American Arts, Minneapolis Institute of Art; SAP American, Philadelphia, USA; Hearts on Fire, Boston, USA; Museum of Fu Tan Po, Japan; Beijing Art Institute; and Hang Seng Bank, Hong Kong to name a few.
A forerunner in the modern abstract sculpture movement in China, Wu Shaoxiang was born in Jiangxi, China in 1957 and graduated from Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute in 1982. In 1986, he obtained an MA of Sculpture from Central Academy of Arts and Design in Beijing and was awarded the first Beijing Art and Design Scholarship. His earlier works were influenced by both Western and Chinese elements. This made him an artistic pioneer at the time and set him apart from his more conservative counterparts in China. He emigrated to Austria in 1989, where he continued to blend East and West in his works while attempting to convey social messages by examining consumerism and globalisation. Since the 1990's Wu has relied mainly on the use of forms and symbols to convey his message. It is his experimentation with banknotes and coins that represents his artistic breakthrough into mainstream recognition. He used coins to reconstruct Eastern and Western monumental sculpture, such as Venus and the Buddha, and banknotes to make up the bodies of Giacometti-like human figures. Both our public monuments and the currency we exchange in a capital system are accredited value by the consumer (be it the "viewer" or the "buyer"), and are thus bestowed with a conflicting sense of simple aesthetic pleasure versus concrete buying-power. The porcelain shapes shown here are covered with United States 100 dollar banknotes and displayed like inviting candies, demonstrating the universal and attractive powers exercised by symbols of wealth.
It is this talent to capture conflict and artistic irony within the sculptural medium that has earned Wu Xiaoxiang recognition and acclaim on the international art stage, holding numberious exhibitions in China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Hong Kong. His work Apple was recognised by the Guiness Book of World Records as the first and biggest coin sculpture in the world. Important collections have acquired his sculptures, including the Singapore Art Museum; Min Sheng Museum, Beijing; Hong Kong Museum of Art; Wadsworth Collection, USA; Schwarzneger Art Collection, USA; Hardy Collection Museum, Austria, amongst others. Alisan Fine Arts presented works by Wu Shaoxiang at Art Tapei 2017 at Art Basel Hong Kong 2018.
Press release courtesy Alisan Fine Arts.