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JACKY TSAI | 'SANCTUARY SKULL' PLAYING CARD LAUNCH

October 23rd 2015
Jacky Tsai's highly anticipated Sanctuary Skull is the final series in his collection of oversized playing cards, having made its debut at Multiplied art fair last week. Angie talks more about the work below.

In the past month, Jacky Tsai has, to a certain extent, been very much in the limelight. His solo show in London's Bond Street in September proved to be a great success, with almost all of the 13 unique works that were on show selling for prices in the range of £18,000 - £27,000 (exclusive of VAT) each. A lot of press was generated for this show, both here in the UK and worldwide as everyone wanted to talk about this new Chinese artist who seems to be taking the art world by storm.

Meanwhile here at Eyestorm, the last few weeks have seen the release of two new Jacky Tsai editions in the form of Chinese Floral Skull Lenticular, which made its London debut at Multiplied art fair at Christie's last week, and the screenprint on paper version, Chinese Floral Skull, which sold well at Affordable Art Fair in Stockholm two weeks previously and has been an online hit.

In addition to this, to coincide with his new work on show at Multiplied, Christie's invited Tsai to talk as part of the ‘Christie's Lates’ programme, which lead to a well-received Q&A session at the Eyestorm booth on the Friday evening at the fair, where he discussed his work and ideas, past, present and future.

Also on show for the first time at Multiplied was the piece we're releasing today, Sanctuary Skull, his fourth and final series of 15 unique oversized playing cards. In terms of the previous playing cards, the first, 'Poker Skull' represented the suit of hearts, which was followed by 'Gambling Skull' displaying the suit of diamonds. The third, 'War Skull', made up the suit of spades. So to complete the 'deck', so to speak, its not surprising that the brand new 'Sanctuary Skull' forms the suit of clubs.

The three previous series' were all very colourful in their appearance as Jacky used primary tones of red, blue, yellow and green. In contrast Sanctuary Skull is monotone, screenprinted in four layers of black and varying shades of grey. The feedback at Multiplied - including that from the artist himself - was that this is his most successful playing card to date. Fans of his work welcomed its black and white appearance; something fairly unusual for Tsai who is known to use a lot of colour in his Pop Art influenced works.

As with the previous series' of playing cards, Sanctuary Skull consists of a large piece of die cut museum board printed on both sides, with the reverse displaying a specially designed pattern, in this case printed in gold. The bespoke-made Perspex box frame that the playing card works are usually exhibited in has a mirrored back, allowing not only the front of the work to be seen, but also the back pattern, resulting in the whole piece becoming an impressive three-dimensional sculptural work. Again as with the other cards, each piece is unique, with the series comprising of one Ace, one King, one Queen, one '10' and so on, all featuring an identical skull image for the particular suit.

The constant theme throughout all the series' of playing cards is the skull motif, which Tsai is often associated with since he designed the acclaimed floral skull for British fashion designer Alexander McQueen in 2006. Talking at Christie's last week about his fascination with skulls, he says: "When I did the McQueen skull, maybe 10 years ago - I realised I had a special talent for the floral skull. I’ve seen so many ugly skulls, so I started creating an ongoing theme with them, because I didn’t want to see anything ugly."

Talking about the symbol of the skull in Chinese culture, he continues: "I’m from a very conservative Chinese family and so whenever I create a beautiful skull I feel I'm overcoming my own fear of them as well."

When asked about the new Sanctuary Skull piece, he said: "This one is all about religion. The temples from Eastern cultures and the cathedrals from Western cultures; whatever religion you believe, they come together [in this piece].”

"You see the damage on the architecture? This is where people have failed to protect their heritage. Historical buildings are being damaged and this is why I wanted to do this last beautiful skull. It’s simple really, black and white. I don’t think I will do any skulls next year, I want to have a break. I don’t think I will beat this skull because for me it’s my best yet."

It's interesting to consider the accessibility of these works. With Tsai's original lacquer carvings and embroidery works selling for in the region of £24,000-£27,000 each, these unique playing cards are very competitively priced, providing an opportunity to own a one-off piece by Tsai at a more attainable price. This is a statement work, and with Tsai's career clearly on the up, one that is sure to hold its value in years to come.

The Sanctuary Skull series is available to buy online from today for £6240.00. See it in more detail online here.
ANGIE DAVEY
Creative Director
JACKY TSAI
Sanctuary Skull (Ten of Clubs)
 
 
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