Captivating sculptures by Cai Zhisong and paintings by He Wenjue are on display at J Space in OCT-LOFT and KK Mall shopping plaza, infusing contemporary art into city life.

Titled “Ceremony & Daily,” the exhibition aims to record the artists’ daily memories in a contemporary art form, said curator Zeng Yu, artistic director of J Space.

A sculpture from Cai’s “Rose” series shown in J Space. (Photo by Cao Zhen)

Teaching sculpture at Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing from 1998 to 2008, Cai is known for expressing ancient Oriental philosophy through modern artistic language. The subjects of his metal sculptures are simple — roses, ancient Chinese men, and animals — but effectively imply power and awe.

Cai’s sculptures are classified into four series: “Motherland,” “Rose,” “Cloud” and “Homeland.” From 1999 to 2015, Cai created 19 metal sculptures of ancient Chinese men for “Motherland.” The men are naked, either on their knees or lowering heads, all looking as though they are suffering.

A giant sculpture from Cai’s “Motherland” series shown in J Space. (Photo by Cao Zhen)

In the article “Helpless” explaining his work, Cai wrote, “In my eyes, human history is a series of paintings of uncountable individuals struggling for life, sadness alternating with joy. … This is an endless circle, but people keep following the footsteps of others, without knowing that in the end everything will turn into dust and be lost in a gust of wind.”

Custom to Motherland No. 1

Cai’s “Custom to Motherland No. 1” won first place in the Taylor Prize at the Autumn Salon in Paris in 2001, making Cai the first Chinese artist to win the honor during its 103-year history.

The ninth bronze edition of the “Custom to Motherland No. 1” has been secured in a deal at the price of HK$660,000 in 2005. It’s the highest auction amount on record for a Chinese sculptor in the international art market at that time.

Cai’s metal sculptures are neat and clean-cut and the “Rose” series was created from 2008 – 2014. In this series, giant or lifelike roses made from lead convey the artist’s unique understanding of love. Rose symbolizes love, while lead is soft, pliable, fragile, calm and toxic. The idea of combining the material property of lead with the natural shape of a rose is very explicit.

Love is like soft and fragile flowers that bloom and die all the time. Love is like our bodies, striding from birth toward death. love is like a lead role, which will go to rack and ruin and become heavy garbage.

The true picture of love, or many other things in our life, is not the same as the imaginary. Be careful when you are searching for love,” Cai explained.

Cai’sHomeland series

Cai’s “Cloud” series, made from resin material for Venice Biennale in 2011, is an interpretation of his Buddhist philosophy of karma. He believes that the meaning of life is not just the processes we go through, but that what matters more are the results. His most recent series is “Homeland,” a set of elegant and exquisite metal animals, such as red-crowned cranes and deer. Using the traditional imagery, Cai hopes to express his thoughts on protecting our beautiful home.

The exhibition also showcases oil painter He Wenjue’s “Water” series, reflecting his thoughts on humans’ lives. “Water is flowing and formless, and so is its relationship with swimmers. They entangle, intertwine just like the society and generation we live in right now. The rapidness of high technology and humans’ slow pace has become a distinct contradiction,” the artist explained.

A visitor admires an oil painting from He Wenjue’s “Water” series in J Space. (Photo by Cao Zhen)

Dates: Until July 15

venue 1: J Space, North Area, OCT-LOFT, Nanshan District (南山区华侨城创意园北区君瑞汇当代艺术空间)

Metro: Line 2 to Qiaocheng North Station (侨城北站), Exit B

Venue 2: Atrium, 1/F, KK Mall, 5016 Shennan Road East, Luohu District (罗湖区深南东路5016号KK Mall一楼中庭)

Metro: Line 1 or 2 to Grand Theater Station (大剧院站), Exit B