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David Franchi – Monday, 5th October 2015.
“Future Past” was a fascinating exhibition by Jacky Tsai, at The Fine Art Society, London.
Chinese artist Jacky Tsai had a solo exhibition at The Fine Art Society of London. It was a mix of different works and styles at The Fine Art Society of London, Jacky Tsai produced for this exhibition, such as lacquer carving, embroidering, and dresses.
The major themes were the juxtaposition of Western and Eastern society, and the skull motif Jacky Tsai created when collaborating with Alexander McQueen.
As a former stylist, Jacky Tsai is a real master in the embroidery technique. His suggestive panel of Su-Xiu embroidery on silk satin, ‘Chinese floral skull,’ was amazing.
Other interesting works were the lacquer carvings. “Future Past”, in fact, was an exhibition of western pop art aesthetic blended with eastern artistry by using the emblems of Chinese mythology. In a bizarre context, Jacky Tsai reproduced battles between western superheroes with characters from Chinese folk tales, including Wonder Woman is wooed by the Monkey King, Empress Wu is saved by Tarzan.
Western superheroes are taken from 1940s comics, such as Superman, and the battles represent aircrafts and machinery used in the II World War. The other characters, instead, are coming from the narrative of the four great novels of Chinese literature (Water Margin, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Journey to the West, and Dream of the Red Chamber). From the Ming and Qing dynasties, in the 14th – 18th Century, these great heroic stories still are the foundation of much Chinese popular culture, from opera to television and are considered to be the most important stories of pre-modern Chinese.
The work of Jacky Tsai symbolises a vigorous feeling of severe political and social debate, with an eye to globalisation. He said: “I’ve chosen them, because they represent the battle between West and East. There is a clash between the two parties for the control of the world, for who is the leading nation. So, I decided to use these characters to represent this clash.”
Other works present at The Fine Art Society exhibition present the trope of the ‘flower skull’. Jacky Tsai collaborated with Alexander McQueen the famous fashion designer. However, he claims the creation of the famous motif was fortuitous. While studying at the Central St. Martins, Tsai was called as the young talent to do internships at Alexander McQueen. One day, McQueen asked him to make a flower skull, because apparently everyone else had failed to do it for months. Tsai was successful and the skull just became a worldwide trend.
The work of Jacky Tsai today includes a wide range of media and traditional Chinese crafts and techniques of ancient
and dying skills dating back 2,000 years, for example wood-engraving, cloisonné, ceramic and Su -Xiu embroidery.
Tsai works alongside the elderly craftsmen, who were initially unhappy to employ ‘non-traditional’ imagery. Despite the masters’ reluctance, Tsai’s determination was convincing and revitalised the declining crafts.
Since his collaboration with Alexander McQueen, Tsai has continued to work with fashion and founded his own label. Today, he works together with luxury retail brands. In 2014, he collaborated with the luxury Chinese brand Shanghai Tang on a critically acclaimed collection.
At The Fine Art Society exhibition, for the first time was displayed the new clothes collection of Jacky Tsai dresses. Refined dresses for women were on show, witnessing the artist ability to mix different styles. The pieces were presented in partnership with Shanghai Tang, enduring a long-term working relationship that has resulted in joint exhibitions and shows in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
While at The Fine Art Society, Jacky Tsai also participated to the charity event ‘BE INSPIRED’. It was an art exhibition, at the Club at Café Royal, London, organized by ‘Save Wild Tigers’ from 22nd September (and extended) until 8th October 2015.
‘BE INSPIRED’ had a programme of high-profile creative events to raise awareness and much needed funds for the quandary of the wild tiger. Alongside other artists, Tsai helped the cause, which seems to see the wild tiger’s survival in deep troubles, with only ten years left to double wild tiger numbers or else risk their extinction.
The exhibition “Future Past” by Jacky Tsai was at The Fine Art Society, Bond Street, London, from 17th September until 2nd October 2015.