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JACKY TSAI | ’The Erotic Dream of the Red Chamber’ and
’The Affair to the East’
August 7th 2020
Perfecting a visual cultural exchange between East and West, Jacky Tsai is today a flourishing artistic talent. From early aesthetic collages of Western pop and traditional Eastern motifs simulating century-old tapestries, the London-based artist started a transformation seven years ago, creating a series of works informed by East Asian literature. Characters from Eastern novels and tales, in showdowns with Western superheroes were weaved into a colourful comic-style storyline. Two such wonderful works are The Erotic Dream of the Red Chamber and The Affair to the East, both based on the popular novels of almost similar titles from the 16th and 18th century.
by Henrik Riis
PRINT EDITION RELEASE
After decades of sending his best warriors and spirits to contain the villain, the arrogant Monkey King had finally been subdued by the Jade Emperor who rules over the Heavens. The Nine Planets, the Stars, the Kings of the Four Quarters and the son of the demon king Mahãbãli had all returned in defeat to the Cloud Palace of the Golden Gates, bowing their heads in despair to the Jade Emperor. In the end it was not sheer and brute force that prevailed but by the strategical skills of Lao Tzu and the wisdom of Buddha, who calmly challenged the Monkey into a wager. Born from a hatched stone-egg in the mountains and formed by the winds of the four corners of the world, the silly but street-smart Monkey had come a long way. He had learned the magic to transform into other shapes and with his cloud-stepping shoes he could travel at rapid speed, jumping from cloud to cloud in his trapez. But foolishly believing he would outsmart the wise Buddha became Monkey King’s ultimate defeat and he was imprisoned under the Mountains of the Five Elements.

Five hundred years later, instability was sprouting among people in the mortal world - and to restore harmony, Buddha needed three scriptures he had left behind in India. He decided to send a young Buddhist priest, Prince Tripitaka (meaning ‘the three scriptures’ in Sanskrit), accompanied by three Immortals, one of them the Monkey King. Their travels would become legend and known as ‘The Journey to the West’.
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
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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 (INCL. VAT)
$ 1,545.00 Only 1 left at this price
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
Jacky Tsai moved to London in 2006 to study at Central Saint Martins and influenced by his new home in the British capital, the artist’s early works were uncomplicated collages of Eastern and Western imagery. Silk printings that from a distance simulate natural sceneries observed in traditional Eastern tapestry, but up-close revealing cool surfers riding the waves on top of flowerbeds of peonies - and rescue helicopters flying among cranes in East Asian mountains.

In preparation for his London solo shows ‘Eastern Orbit’ (2014) at Scream Gallery and ‘Future Past’ (2015) at Fine Art Society the following year, Tsai’s practice took a turn towards a body of works dealing more openly with exploring identity between two cultural set of norms; the importance of his upbringing in Shanghai and the influences in his early twenties in London. Tsai played out the collisions on lacquer carvings, porcelain, Su Xiu embroidery and works on paper. Two of the first works from his superhero-series were The Affair to the East and The Erotic Dream of the Red Chamber. Over the years the pieces would lead to a series, such as Dream in the Deserted Garden (2018) and others; many of them informed by century-old stories found in classic East Asian literature.
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
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Jacky Tsai (Chinese, b. 1984)
94(w) x 95(h) cm
37.01(w) x 37.40(h) inches
6 colour screenprint with 24-carat gold and silver 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 (INCL. VAT)
$ 3,240.00
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In The Affair to the East, Tsai opens the story in the middle of the work. The brash Monkey King, dressed in his golden corselet and cloud-stepping shoes, is found in the center in a close embrace with Wonder Woman, trying to impress her with a bouquet of roses. Around them the battles from the story are played out, except that in Tsai’s account of events, the Eastern characters are not fighting dragons and spirits. Instead Sandy the River Monster (Sha Wujing), seen in top right corner with his nine skulls around his neck, is poking his priest’s staff at Space Woman. On the banks of the raging river below, Prince Tripitaka in the red cloth is versing again Monkey King to bring him back from his erotic encounter, while Pigsy (Zhu Bajie), standing to his right, is fending off another Superhero.

The energetic engagement between a varied set of characters, including Superman, Flash Gordon, the female Planets, Demon of Havoc and many more, are played out in a scenery stretching from the ground below to the Cloud Palace of the Golden Gates in the heavens above. Leaving the two lovers dancing on a cloud in the middle. In Tsai’s world of modernity and globalism, the classic ‘Journey to the West’ was interrupted and ended up as an Affair to the East.

Written by Cao Xueqin around 1760, Tsai’s second work, The Erotic Dream of the Red Chamber, is based on a scene from the family saga ‘The Story of the Stone’; or more popularly known as ‘The Dream of the Red Chamber’. Xueqin grew up in Jinling (Nanjing today) and was the grandson of Cao Yin, a wealthy Textile Commissioner serving Emperor Kangxi. Early in the reign of the new Emperor Yongzheng in 1722, most so-called bondservants, like the Caos, were steadily being stripped from their belongings by the new Chinese ruler. By mid-seventeen hundred, the Cao family were living among the poorest in society - a stark contrast to the privileged upbringing Xueqin had experienced as a child.
JACKY TSAI
The Erotic Dream of the Red Chamber, 2016

Edition of 60
6 Artist Proof (APs)

85(w) x 105(h) cm
33.46(w) x 41.34(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 *
Email *
Phone number *
Any Comment? *
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JACKY TSAI
The Erotic Dream of the Red Chamber, 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.
Name *
Email *
Phone number *
Any Comment? *
* Required fields
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 (INCL. VAT)
$ 1,750.00 Only 1 left at this price
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
Now in his forties, the bitter and middle-aged Xueqin started to reflect on his failure in life; the vanished opulence and grandeur he was used to as a young man; the hundred-or-so servants attending the family’s needs; and the beautiful girls he knew. Had it all been a dream? In the following years Xueqin wrote a fictional family saga about rivalry, affairs and change of fortune in the Jia and Wang family. A book that would become a bestseller for centuries to come. In the center of it all, a boy called Bao-yu or ‘precious jewel’; a character highly portrayed as the author himself.

The Erotic Dream of the Red Chamber is from a scene loosely taken from the fifth chapter of the book. In his dreams, Bao-yu is sitting in a garden of blossoming peonies and pink peach trees, entertained by the Twelve Beauties of Jinling performing the play ‘Dream of Golden Days’. However, in the middle a blind-folded Superman is disturbing the perfect scenery and receiving all the attention from the beauties in the garden. With blushing cheeks and ready to draw his sword, Bao-yu, sitting in top right corner, was until now enjoying his entertainment and is enraged by Superman’s entrance. Of the original twelve beauties in the dream, Tsai is showing only seven of them - though behind a rock in bottom of the work, Lois Lane enters the play, clearly disapproving of her boyfriend’s endeavors. Lois Lane, an eighth women, perhaps for good fortune.

In both pieces the viewer is placed in the middle of story; there is no obvious beginning and nor is the ending revealed. Tsai is rarely political and the pieces of comical fighting between East and West has a wonderful and subtle humour to it. It would be tempting, though inaccurate, to view Tsai’s work through a lens of the confrontational political narrative between the Chinese government and the Western democracies that we are witnessing today. As any artist’s work, it should be interpreted in the time and context it was created.

The two impressive 18-colour screenprints represents some of the earliest multilayered print editions created by Tsai - and indeed the first in his superhero series. The Affair to the East and The Erotic Dream of the Red Chamber are each an edition of 60 and were released in an exclusive collaboration between the artist and Eyestorm in 2016. Both works were exhibited as part of Tsai’s solo exhibition ‘Culture Clash’ at Eyestorm in New York in October the same year.

You can find more details about the two print editions on Jacky Tsai’s artist page here.
 
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