Artist Jacky Tsai gets his first solo exhibition in Los Angeles

FAD friend artist Jacky Tsai has just opened his first solo show in Los Angeles entitled “The Lost Angels,” at Corey Helford Gallery.

Jacky Tsai ‘The Retirement’ (lacquer carving on wood panel; 70.8 x 42 inches) FAD Magazine
Jacky Tsai ‘The Retirement’ (lacquer carving on wood panel; 70.8 x 42 inches)

Tsai is a London-based artist who learned his craft in Shanghai and honed it working alongside Alexander McQueen, where he developed the design for his floral skull motif. About to present his first solo exhibition at CHG, Tsai is famed for designing compelling art pieces using carved lacquer ware, a rapidly disappearing traditional craft. “The Lost Angels” feature a broad range of Tsai’s signature techniques in lacquer, porcelain, mixed media painting and prints, all focused on a clash between East and West in material and subject matter. Tsai has spent a considerable time perfecting his process and finding the balance between the Chinese traditional lacquer work and pop art imagery. “I feel my work is much more mature after many years practice. I’ve transferred my Superheroes series from the traditional lacquer carving to the modern acrylic canvas work. This is a quite brave move for me, and make this series very unique,” he says of his new work.

The exhibition notably debuts additions to Tsai’s ongoing series “Floral Skull,” with a set of exclusive lenticular prints representing themes of beauty, decay, and rebirth, as well as his “Superheroes” series. In the canvas edition of “One Night in Macau,” Superman has a bad night at the roulette wheel, just as the pound he represents also suffers a post-Brexit slump. In “The Puppets,” Tsai illustrates a Chinese puppet master pulling the strings of western superheroes, perhaps mocking the paranoia of the U.S., or the propaganda of China itself.

Jacky Tsai ‘Chinese Floral Skull, Yellow Lenticular’ (31.5 x 31.5 inches) FAD magazine
Jacky Tsai ‘Chinese Floral Skull, Yellow Lenticular’ (31.5 x 31.5 inches) FAD magazine

“Superheroes” is the series that introduced the Chinese craftsmanship Tsai has become known for, combining Roy Lichtenstein-esque comic book figures in traditional Chinese scenes. The exhibit’s 6-ft masterpiece, “Golden Fortune Tree,” features characters Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman at the center battling it out in an expansive Chinese landscape. The vibrant piece is made using a 3,000-year-old technique in which several dozen layers of lacquer are applied by hand to a wood panel into which images have been painstakingly engraved.

Jacky Tsai ‘One Night in Macau’ (acrylic and gold leaf on linen; 51 inches diameter) FAD Magazine
Jacky Tsai ‘One Night in Macau’ (acrylic and gold leaf on linen; 51 inches diameter)

Tsai shares,

“All the heroes are angels from the East and West and are disappearing or dying. In my view, superheroes are normal people as well; they are not always invincible, they have to face the depression, defeat, retirement, eventually face to the death, disappear in the world, then be reborn again from the death. I hope they will be reborn come together to tackle all the problems in this crucial world.”

Jacky Tsai “The Lost Angels,” on until November 28th Corey Helford Gallery www.coreyhelfordgallery.com

About The Artist:

Chinese artist Jacky Tsai creates distinctive works with an inventive approach to traditional materials and craftsmanship. Working to establish balance and harmony between cultural extremes, his unique style of working references both western pop art and eastern artistry as he strives to re-invent a concept of beauty that’s welcomed by viewers from all cultural heritages.
Early on in his career, Tsai was perhaps best known as the creator behind British fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s floral skull emblem that went on to become one of the most iconic symbols of the global fashion industry. This image, which saw the artist use a bloom of plants to make up the skull motif, exemplifies Tsai’s vision of working to dispel attitudes of fear and superstition prevalent in Chinese culture with regards to the perception of death, and instead encourage the emergence of beauty in decay and ideas of rebirth.

Eager to spread his aspiration, Tsai works across various mediums, including installation, sculpture, painting, printmaking, collage, embroidery, Chinese lacquer carving, porcelain and illustration. In 2015, he became the first Chinese artist to show with the Fine Art Society, London’s oldest commercial gallery on Bond Street, where he has since staged two solo exhibitions.

Alongside his art working practice, Tsai has kept an ongoing presence in the fashion industry and 2013 saw the launch of his very own fashion label “Jacky Tsai,” which has seen him collaborate with high-end mega department stores such as Harvey Nichols and Lane Crawford. In 2014, Tsai joined forces with internationally acclaimed Chinese luxury brand Shanghai Tang. Launched globally in May 2014, the collection was significantly praised by consumer and critics worldwide.

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine, ' A curation of the world’s most interesting culture' [PLUS] Art of Conversation: A tri-annual 'no news paper' AofC - Issue 1 Autumn 2018