Arrogancy and Elegancy -Methodology of Kai Mao's work Back


Kai Mao was born in Hunan province (China) in 70s, and later he transferred to Guangzhou province and majored in art.  



He was engaged in photography and advertising design in youth ages. He has good painting skills in early years, but works didn't come out. Kai Mao said in jest that it was his hardship period. His works began to appear in public’s eyes since 2010. 



If the year 2010 was the first year of an era, Kai Mao's artistic career was divided into three periods. Kai Mao transferred from advertising design into the art world in 2010 – 2014. Then he decisively gave up the advertising-oriented art from: conceptual art, and he advocated to return to the art-oriented traditional oil painting.



Kai Mao made a series of Journey to the West that was full of the color of subversion and magic in 2014-2015. The idea that was full of restraint and fable gradually established and tended to a high degree of unity.



His works of the Superior Animal Exhibition were appeared in 2015 – 2017. In this period, Kai Mao began to gradually expand his own art category and combined painting and sculpture in a unified aesthetic style. 



Kai Mao said frankly that he was influenced by Henry Rousseau and Salvador Dalì deeply. So he extended his own set of methodology: Surrealism. Kai Mao's Superior Animal series combined the features of the two mentors. Kai's brush strokes were clear and delicate, just like Rousseau, his paintings was full of an absolute sense of clarity, and this absolute clearance led to an absolute sense of mystery. In addition, in the painting language, Kai is more inclined to the description of life. He used realistic means to describe the bizarre image and realistic details, like Dalì, his paintings produced a kind of illusions and dreams. 



But Kai Mao's paintings tend to be more peaceful, quiet and stable. And his paintings have few frivolous, grotesque and tearing sense like Dalì. Moreover, his paintings have more sense of mature and distance than Dali.



Kai Mao's Superior Animal series is fresh, stylish, poetic and highly aesthetic. Moreover, he makes good use of bright colors.



And under the scrutiny, Kai’s painting is critical. But his critique is different from our well-known Chinese artists in 60s, such as Zeng Fanzhi, Yue Minjun, Fang Lijun and so on. The paintings of the artists in 60s described the behavior of groups and groups of space to achieve a certain criticism, because they were born in the era of Chinese collectivism. However, Kai was born in the 1970s when the personal liberal consciousness rose in China. The objects in his works are more lonely people or things that have absolute free personal space. He often analyzes the individual from the details and the demeanor to complete the critique.



The most of Kai's work background is scenery and open space. The people in his works dressed in retro style or in semi-naked style and were full of independent, prudent, free temperament. In his paintings, you are difficult to detect the results of human industrial civilization. In the early ages, Kai was engaged in the advertising design that has a high degree of industrialization, but Kai avoided the description of industrial civilization and chase and more to describe the meaning of masquerade. The sculpture of superior animals can be seen as an extension of the same aesthetics. The material is mainly metal, and when the painting separated from color and background, he painted people with a steel bar, and the sculpture is like the human beings living in the reinforced forest, they only can convey emotions and can not complete the communicate. This style added a sense of Gothic sadness. 



When Kai Mao shaped the animal, he was restrained. If it was not tall towel, it was difficult to detect that her painting is surrealism. Kai's restraint also produced a sense of separation, so the audience looks at the paintings filled with a sense of distance. He put the audience in the perspective of God to examine and think about the meaning of the tall neck in the painting.



Mankind has been in the middle and lower stages of the food chain over the years in the earth. Later, through the liberation of hands, expanding brain capacity, and producing civilization, mankind overtake at the top of the food chain. Kai Mao gave us a few questions: mankind is more and more arrogant and they often have grandiose aims but puny abilities but the animals’ vertebra are upright and complete anthropomorphic, then are there any differences between human and animals?



The superior animals are filled with a reflection of the past and the future of mankind, which is a brief history of mankind written to us by Kai Mao.



Kai Mao is an artist that has no definition for himself. He went across several industries and climbed several artistic concepts. Perhaps surprise is at the next intersection.


Giorgio Grasso

Art critic, art historian, curator of MAG gallery, founder of contemporary art foundation. his has curated the Armeria pavilion in the biennial of Venice 2017, the biennial of Dolomiti 2016, co-curated by the Italian pavilion at the Venice Biennial  2011.