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JACKY TSAI | 'Culture Clash'
October 19th 2023
Magnificent, roaring fighter planes coming from left and right, and pin-up girls crossing swords with immortals of Eastern mythology, Jacky Tsai is diligently portraying two cultures through iconic imagery and astute symbolism in his signature Pop Art style. Whether presented in carvings or works on paper the showcase of contradictions in beliefs, history and culture is no hindrance to reach a harmonious scenery. Sharing its title with the artist’s first solo show in New York in 2016, Culture Clash introduces Tsai’s cultural battle; an encounter stretched out across an impressive fifty-three inches.
by Henrik Riis
PRINT EDITION RELEASE
In 2016, a clash of two cultures went down in one of the most unlikely places. Bordering Chinatown, just a few blocks south, and squeezed in between Soho to the west and Lower East Side to the east, the scene played out in a space of just one thousand square feet on Bowery on Lower Manhattan, New York. Lacquer carvings, screenprints, porcelain and Su Xiu embroidery formed the battle terrain on which Eastern characters of ancient legends had risen from the past to challenge superheroes of contemporary Western society. Undetected by many of the passers-by on a lively street outside, the white walls behind the glass façade gallery was presenting a scenery far from nirvana and closer to an epic battle. That brisk autumn week in New York would come to define Jacky Tsai’s culture clash.

The climax of the fight had been two years in the making. Slowly entering his lacquer carvings in 2014, Tarzan - and a back-up team of G.I. Joes - swung into the scenery on jungle lianas to save the first female ruler of China, Empress Wu, from the authoritarian censorship, symbolised by a raucous King Kong; and soon to follow, the storylines of popular Eastern literature from the sixteenth century were interrupted by Superman and Wonder Woman in works such as The Affair to the East and The Erotic Dream of the Red Chamber. Each character representative of literary symbols in Eastern and Western cultural power that reflect two different ideologies. Fighting for dominance, their speculative weapons intend to symbolise the words, languages, definitions, religions, and voices of both cultures.
JACKY TSAI
The Affair to the East, 2016

Edition of 60
6 Artist Proof (APs)

85(w) x 105(h) cm
33.46(w) x 41.34(h) inches
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JACKY TSAI
The Affair to the East, 2016

Edition of 60
6 Artist Proof (APs)

85(w) x 105(h) cm
33.46(w) x 41.34(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
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Jacky Tsai (Chinese, b. 1984)
85(w) x 105(h) cm
33.46(w) x 41.34(h) inches
18 colour screenprint on Somerset 410 gsm paper with hand torn edge.

Signed and numbered on front.
Edition of 60
PRICE
$ 2,010.00
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
In Culture Clash, Tsai creates the ultimate confrontation. Preceding many of Tsai’s compositions that have direct references to Eastern literature, this work does not depict a particular scene from a classical verse or play, but instead brings together the heroes and villains of the past to form a united front against mid-twentieth-century Western idols of popular culture.

Main characters from the sixteenth-century novel ‘Journey to the West’ take centre stage in Culture Clash. In the novel, Monkey King and Zhu Baije, the latter known as Pigsy, are assigned with a third immortal, Sha Wuijing, to protect a monk on a pilgrimage to obtain three scriptures that Buddha had left behind in the western regions. Born from a stone in the mountains, Monkey King acquired supernatural powers through Taoist practices and although despised for centuries by all immortals for his disregard of the divine rule of the Jade Emperor, he found a path to righteousness through the trials and suffering on the journey to the west; rising to an iconic symbol of rebellious spirit in historical Eastern texts.

Staying true to their notorious natures they return to fight side-by-side in Tsai’s Culture Clash. Fearlessly, Monkey King - right in the middle of it all - knocks out a fighter-bomber aircraft with his magic staff to show the world that he is still on top of his game; and the greedy, lazy, ugly, half pig and half human monster, Pigsy, puts his sight on a young woman in the water, attacking (or rescuing) the seemingly easy target with his nine-tooth spike-rake.
JACKY TSAI
Culture Clash, 2016

Edition of 60
6 Artist Proof (APs)

135(w) x 78(h) cm
53.15(w) x 30.71(h) inches
MAKE AN OFFER
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JACKY TSAI
Culture Clash, 2016

Edition of 60
6 Artist Proof (APs)

135(w) x 78(h) cm
53.15(w) x 30.71(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
Name *
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Any Comment? *
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Jacky Tsai (Chinese, b. 1984)

Culture Clash , 2016

135(w) x 78(h) cm
53.15(w) x 30.71(h) inches
20 colour screenprint on Somerset 410 gsm paper with hand torn edge

To see larger and more detailed image (1Mb file opens in new window), please click here
Edition of 60
PRICE
$ 1,930.00 Only 1 left at this price
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
Set in a scenery with rock formations, peonies, Asian pine trees and Chinese junk boats just off the shore in the bay, the action is stirred up by incoming Spitfires, Thunderbolts, P-38 Lightning and B-17 Flying Fortress; all iconic fighter planes from the second world war. Almost absent of Western men, female parachuters drop from the sky and airplanes are manned by 1940s style pin-up girls, sitting on the wing tip in high heels, designer dresses and armed with heavy firearms. Rarely has an army showed up for battle so stylishly.

The landscape is bold and in the midst of the action Tsai brings in other Eastern characters. Typically dressed in blue and red shoes, heroes featuring in the classic novel ‘Water Margin’ from the Northern Song dynasty join the fight alongside three flying Apsaras; female spirits of the clouds and waters in Buddhist mythology. Often depicted as flying figures, they represent the softness and mellowness in Eastern visual arts and Buddhism, with their power coming from peaceful aesthetics such as music, dance, beauty and holiness. However, in this quarrel one Apsara come more appropriately equipped, holding an aerial drop-bomb in her arms, rather than a string instrument.

By creating a confrontational setting complete with crashes and explosions, Tsai seeks to represent an overall context in this piece, gathering famous figures from different stories together, along with the symbolic significance they each carry with them, and integrating them into a contradictory while visually harmonious scenario. In this fight there are no winners and no losers, only uncivil exchanges of cultural courtesies.

Culture Clash manifests itself as the largest screenprint edition made in Tsai’s career, and notably also the title of the artist’s solo show in 2016 at Eyestorm in New York. Across fifty-three inches, a dusty black creates an absorbing backdrop for the shimmery gold inks, vibrant colour and explosive orange reds applied to intensifying the inferno. Undeniably, one in many highlights amongst the thirty-four exclusive print editions released in collaboration with Jacky Tsai, the manually printed work of twenty layered colours and hand-torn edge is an edition of 60, signed and numbered on front.

To view the print edition in further detail and to find more information about available works by Jacky Tsai, visit the artist’s page here.
 
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