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JACKY TSAI | 'Puppets'
October 31st 2019
For more than a decade, Chinese artist Jacky Tsai has been developing his practice and he is today a unique representative of the Chinese pop-art genre. Tsai’s work illustrates themes and relations between Eastern and Western cultures in a globalized world - and the narrative is full of symbolism and often with a humorous undertone; a blindfolded Superman with arms stretching out finding his way around a traditional Chinese garden - or, as portrayed in Puppets, a Chinese general puppeteering a myriad of Western superheroes to the amusement of a Chinese audience in a theatre.
by Henrik Riis
PRINT EDITION RELEASE
Jacky Tsai studied art at the China Academy of Art and shortly after his graduation he moved to London where he completed his MA at Central St Martins in 2008. His early works were one-dimensional and informed by the mix of two exciting cultures. Something likely attributed to being a young art student in a foreign city. In Surf (2011), one of the artist’s first print editions, the imagery is built of golden Koi fishes, rescue helicopters, handwritten calligraphy and surfers riding the “waves” of flowerbeds of peonies. Each individual element is shown in a repetitive pattern giving the print a decorative appearance with similarities to ancient Chinese wallpaper.

In the years that followed, Tsai started working with a more nuanced and complex narrative of how Western cultural values are influencing the Eastern identity, and vice-versa. Through his work the artist is exploring an important topic of identity; how we all come with a cultural baggage and need to navigate through an ever-shrinking world of values and politics. But Tsai stays clear of being moralising. He brilliantly communicates the messages using humour. One of the important artworks in Tsai’s career so far is Puppets, a screenprint edition released in collaboration with Eyestorm as part of his first solo show in New York in 2016.
JACKY TSAI
Surf, 2011

72(w) x 97(h) cm
28.35(w) x 38.39(h) inches
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JACKY TSAI
Surf, 2011

72(w) x 97(h) cm
28.35(w) x 38.39(h) inches
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Jacky Tsai (Chinese, b. 1984)

Surf , 2011

72(w) x 97(h) cm
28.35(w) x 38.39(h) inches
Giclee print Hahnemuhle Photorag 308gsm

Image size: 60.5 x 85cm

Edition of 30
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In Puppets, Tsai presents an oversized Chinese general as the dominant character - a puppeteer who appears to be controlling smaller western superheroes such as Superman, Wonder Woman and Captain America by pieces of string tied around their limbs. The superheroes seem in distress and powerless as they fall about the stage, with some unable to function on their own; Spiderman hangs limply backwards as if he is dead or asleep - and some are looking as if they’re trying to escape. Set in a Chinese theatre, eastern characters in traditional dress take in the show with enjoyment from their seats in the stalls and the balconies. And The Joker is leaning out from a window with a big grin on his face.

As with all of Tsai’s work, Puppets is loaded with symbolism and underlying messages. Here the puppeteer represents control; the control Tsai believes the Chinese government has on western influences, portrayed by the superheroes.
JACKY TSAI
Puppets, 2016

Edition of 60
6 Artist Proof (APs)

115(w) x 63(h) cm
45.28(w) x 24.80(h) inches
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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.
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JACKY TSAI
Puppets, 2016

Edition of 60
6 Artist Proof (APs)

115(w) x 63(h) cm
45.28(w) x 24.80(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? *
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Jacky Tsai (Chinese, b. 1984)

Puppets , 2016

115(w) x 63(h) cm
45.28(w) x 24.80(h) inches
18 colour screenprint on Somerset satin 410 gsm paper with hand torn edge

To see larger and more detailed image (2.5Mb file opens in new window), please click here

Signed and numbered on front
Edition of 60
PRICE (INCL. VAT)
$ 1,395.00
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Find art trends here >
This in turn relates to Tsai’s thoughts about the ‘harmonious society’ - a socioeconomic vision in China that served as a new direction in Chinese communist leadership in recent years which was based on stability and social cohesion. By presenting the native onlookers in traditional dress and setting the scene in an authentic eastern establishment, and then portraying them in his signature bold and bright ‘Pop Art’ style, Tsai is subtly commenting on the conflicting self-identities of modern China. Although Tsai now resides in London, he grew up in Shanghai and frequently visits his motherland; very much still in touch with his heritage, this is a subject that remains extremely close to his heart.

With eighteen manually layered colours, Puppets stands out as Tsai’s most colourful screenprint to date. Vibrant colours dominate the scenery from edge to edge; the orange-red fluorescent curtain of puppetry, the bright green floor and the metallic gold-ink shimmering on the armor plate on the general’s chest. The narrow rectangular shape of the print gives the viewer the perfect perspective of the performance from the front row of the balcony, the best seat in the house.

Puppets has been included in several of Tsai’s exhibitions since the solo show ‘Culture Clash’ in 2016 in New York. Other exhibitions include the artist’s first museum solo show ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA) in February 2018, and ‘Reincarnation’ in London in December 2018.

You can find further information about Puppets and other available work by Jacky Tsai on the artist page here.
 
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