Jacky Tsai. Fly Me to the Moon
Date: February 13 — March 11, 2018
Venue: MMOMA, Gogolevsky 10/2
The Moscow Museum of Modern Art presents «Fly Me to the Moon» — the first solo exhibition of a London-based Chinese artist Jacky Tsai to take place in Russia. Best known for the floral skull he produced for fashion designer Alexander McQueen, in his work as an independent artist Jacky Tsai has been developing the theme of dialogue between Western and E astern cultures by fusing Pop Art elements with ancient Chinese crafts.
The exhibition presents Tsai’s works produced over the past several years and rendered in various techniques such as painting, screen printing and lacquer carving. Traditional techniques allow the artist to create different textures and sculpt compound objects. For example, the series depicting comic-strip superheroes in the company of characters from Chinese mythology is rendered in the technique of carved lacquer. The technique involves applying multiple layers of lacquer onto a wooden panel with engraved designs and, after the layers have dried, carving through them. The production of one piece may take from three to five months, at times even several years. Following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 this laborious and costly craft began to wane. «Nowadays, there are only about twenty trained craftsmen left in China who have this skill,» explained the artist. With his works Tsai endeavors to draw the younger generation to the roots of Chinese culture.
The artist defines his work as an attempt to bridge Eastern and Western cultures. By combining Pop Art aesthetics with motifs in traditional Chinese painting, Tsai creates a platform for dialogue and at the same time alters the canons established by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and James Rosenquist. He places heroes from DC and Marvel comic strips such as Spider Man, Superman, Captain America and Catwoman into classic Chinese landscapes to convey both the fusion and opposition of the cultures. In an allegorical way he depicts the flourishing of the Chinese economy paralleled by the decline of the West.
The exhibition features various skulls — a theme which recurs in the artist’s prints and sculptures. Underlying the floral skulls is Tsai’s endeavor to counter attitudes of fear and superstition towards death prevalent in society. Ornamented with flowers, birds and butterflies, the skull becomes a symbol of the triumph of life over death.
The exhibition is a continuation of MMOMA’s program dedicated to strengthening cooperation between Russia and China and introducing Moscow audiences to Eastern culture. In 2012 the museum held the exhibition «The New Directions: Young Chinese Contemporary Artists» and in 2014 showcased one work by Xu Zhen.
The «Fly Me to the Moon» exhibition is held in partnership with GUM Department Store as part of the «Happy Chinese New! GUM» festival, which will be held in GUM from 8 to 28 February. On the occasion of the festival Jacky Tsai has produced designs for the store’s interior which reflect Russian and Chinese cultures.
Jacky Tsai was born in 1984 and grew up in Shanghai. Having graduated from the China Academy of Art with a bachelor’s degree, he went to London to study illustration at the Central Saint Martin’s college. After graduation he continued to work in the UK. Tsai’s first solo exhibition was held in London in 2010. At the age of 24 Jacky Tsai designed a floral skull for Alexander McQueen which became an icon in the fashion world and brought him fame. Following his collaboration with British designers he worked with the internationally acclaimed Chinese luxury brand Shanghai Tang and European department stores such as Harvey Nichols and Lane Crawford. In 2011 he launched his own brand fusing art and fashion.