Jacky Tsai: The Harmonious Society

18 October - 8 November 2016

The Fine Art Society presents the second solo show of Chinese artist Jacky Tsai, following his successful debut at the gallery in 2015.


In this new body of work, Tsai presents a contemporary and sometimes ironic take on the political and social ideology that has shaped China’s identity and the tussle between the conflicting forces of socioeconomic reform and conservatism. Tsai draws particularly on the philosophical idea of ‘harmony’, a concept deeply embedded in Chinese culture and firstly introduced by the philosopher Confucius (551 - 479 BC), whose teachings became the official imperial teachings that were followed in the Han, Tan and Song dynasties. In more recent history the ‘Harmonious Society’ became a new socioeconomic vision for China under President Hu Jintao, based on a model of stability and social cohesion.

Using his characteristic pop art aesthetic, Tsai’s vibrant and energetic canvases blend western tropes with eastern artistry, emblems of Chinese mythology with comic characters such as Superman and Batman. Borrowing tropes from both cultures, the work suggests the plural and conflicting identifies of China today and its place in the world, with subjects including immigration, (Welcome Refugees), gambling (One Night in Macau), wildlife conservation (Save the Last Chinese Tiger), and the perception of cultural differences (Tug of War).

These 11 vibrant tableaus are skilfully realised in the three thousand year old traditional technique of lacquer carving, where several dozen layers of natural lacquer are applied by hand on a wood panel where the image has been painstakingly engraved.