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JACKY TSAI | ‘Dream in the Deserted Garden’
February 9th 2023
Like the fictional, amorous encounter of a young couple in a rear part of a deserted garden, Jacky Tsai uncovers his own daydreams. Rock formations, blossoming peonies and flamboyant peacocks set the scene from a sixteenth-century novel; and a kite, a bike and a polaroid camera - highlighted by gold and palladium - weave in his childhood memories. Without hesitation the artist delivers a wonderful piece of Eastern heritage and personal Western influences. Dream in the Deserted Garden celebrates the tenth anniversary of his ‘floral skull’ as well as being a tribute to his beginnings in Shanghai. Two works, one in vermilion-red as the daydream appears and a dark-blue version as it slowly fades and return to reality.
by Henrik Riis
PRINT EDITION RELEASE
“Easy to sketch freshness of youth, hard to portray the pain at heart.”
Tang Xianzu (1598).


Du Liniang dreams of love. Cloistered in the privileged household of her father Du Bao, a Ming dynasty prefect of Nan’an in South-East China, she daily seeks to study the subjects for future marriage. One spring morning her mischievous maid, Spring Fragrance, leads her astray into a rear part of the garden surrounding the house. The smells of spring, the myriad of flowers and the beauty of a peony pavilion makes a strong impression on young Du Liniang and once returned to her study she falls asleep. As a flower petal touches her arm, she wakes up realising that the encounter with the love of her life, a scholar named Liu Mengmei, was a dream. Upset by the thought that she will never meet Mengmei, her health deteriorates and she sadly dies in the Autumn of the year. Written by Tang Xianzu by the end of the sixteenth’s century, ‘The Peony Pavilion’ - like many plays from the Ming dynasty - comes with griefs and trials for the characters, making it one of literature’s most memorable love stories and a masterpiece of the time.

Eastern literature has been a source of inspiration to Tsai from the earliest days of his practice. Illustrious characters and themes found their way into his tapestries, representing the past in a narrative aiming to bridge traditional Eastern values with Western popular culture experienced as a student in London. The ‘floral skull’, created in 2008 shortly after his graduation from Central St Martins, has become representative of the artist’s works, although Tsai’s extraordinary talent shows when he visually brings century-old literature into a modern context. In 2016, Tsai interpreted ‘Journey to the West’ by Wu Cheng'en into a contemporary version titled An Affair to the East, and in The Erotic Dream of the Red Chamber the artist wittily takes on the eighteenth-century novel, ‘The Story of the Stone’, and allows Superman to enter the stage. Both works highlight Tsai’s artistic talent as a storyteller.
JACKY TSAI
Dream in the Deserted Garden (Vermilion), 2018

Edition of 28
6 Artist Proof (APs)

94(w) x 95(h) cm
37.01(w) x 37.40(h) inches
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JACKY TSAI
Dream in the Deserted Garden (Vermilion), 2018

Edition of 28
6 Artist Proof (APs)

94(w) x 95(h) cm
37.01(w) x 37.40(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)
94(w) x 95(h) cm
37.01(w) x 37.40(h) inches
7 colour screenprint with 24-carat gold and palladium leaf and hand-torn edges.

Signed and numbered on front.

To see larger and more detailed image (2.5Mb file opens in new window), please click here
Edition of 28
PRICE
$ 3,725.00
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
In Dream in the Deserted Garden he picks freely and translate loosely from ‘The Peony Pavilion’ in his recreation of a garden paradise; a wonderland that can only exist in a dream. The artist depicts not Du Liniang’s dream world, but his own - one that is inspired by his personal memories alongside traditional Eastern motifs. Amongst the beautiful flowers, peacocks and trees are images from Tsai’s childhood. A kind of retro-futuristic setting inhabited by a Nintendo Gameboy, a dated aerial television, and a Shanghai brand watch which are all symbols of the early eighties and a reminder of the artist’s past. It is surreal, and the artwork imitates the often bizarre nature of the dream, intertwining these contrasting symbols of East and West, traditional and modern cultures. The intricate drawing invites viewers to get lost in the details - to try to decode the meaning of the individual objects and figures. Yet, like a dream there is no real meaning or sense of order, and so instead, the viewer become lost in Tsai’s wonderland.

When pulling back from the details of the work, the foreboding image of the skull is revealed; a reminder of mortality and the dream world as impermanent. This central skull motif - a development of Tsai’s original ‘floral skull’ - represents the idea of decayed beauty as well as a new beginning, and has been important theme that has permeated many of the artist’s works in his practice. In this case, it is a reminder that, like Lu Liniang in ‘The Peony Pavilion’ who wakes up as a peony petal descents on her arm, he will also wake up at any moment, and this beautiful dream-world that Tsai has created will only exist as a faded memory.

The use of flat line and drawing to create a sense of depth and movement in these two new editions is a unique development for Tsai. Where he has previously explored depth through the use of three-dimensional sculptures as well as lenticular printing, here Tsai uses more subtle techniques. The objects and figures within the work are carefully layered and entangled through detailed drawing, and the flat colour next to reflective gold and palladium leaf, means certain features pop forward, while others recess. As the eyes explore this piece, different objects come in and out of focus depending on how they reflect the light on the page. This creates a unique sense of movement, bringing the image to life.
JACKY TSAI
Dream in the Deserted Garden (Blue), 2018

Edition of 28
6 Artist Proof (APs)

94(w) x 95(h) cm
37.01(w) x 37.40(h) inches
MAKE AN OFFER
Art is about talking with each other and via ‘Make an Offer’ you can have a direct conversation with us and suggest a price for this artwork.
Your Offer *
Name *
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JACKY TSAI
Dream in the Deserted Garden (Blue), 2018

Edition of 28
6 Artist Proof (APs)

94(w) x 95(h) cm
37.01(w) x 37.40(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 *
Email *
Phone number *
Any Comment? *
* Required fields
Jacky Tsai (Chinese, b. 1984)
94(w) x 95(h) cm
37.01(w) x 37.40(h) inches
7 colour screenprint with 24-carat gold and palladium leaf and hand-torn edges.

Signed and numbered on front by the artist.

To see larger and more detailed image (2.5Mb file opens in new window), please click here
Edition of 28
PRICE
$ 3,725.00 Only 1 left at this price
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
Presenting the same works in two contrasting backgrounds, Tsai cleverly applies two opposing colour schemes as different stages of the dream and goes beyond the vermilion red which is seen in traditional Eastern imagery and that of the Western world, represented by the blue. The red depicts the beginning of the dream-world, when the images are vibrant and alive; and the blue is the moment of waking up when the dreamland begins to fade away, loses focus and slips into darkness.

It is a fantastical scenery that runs through these works. One that seems almost unimaginable and unattainable in its beauty. While Du Liniang was unable to return to her dream world in ‘The Peony Pavilion’, Tsai is able to capture his own through these drawings, allowing the viewer to return again and again to the deserted and overgrown garden of his dreams.

Two of thirty-five exclusive editions released from 2011 to 2018, the release of Dream in the Deserted Garden (Blue) and Dream in the Deserted Garden (Vermilion) celebrate a successful collaboration spanning eight years of good fortune between Jacky Tsai and Eyestorm. Hand-applied precious metal-leaf and seven layers of ink make up these astonishing editions of 28 plus artist proofs; each print signed and numbered on front.

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