Cai Jian: CHANCE


  • Opening hours

    10 : 00 – 18 : 00
    Tuesday – Saturday

  • Location:

    No. 1, -1F Sunken Garden, Lane 9, Qufu Road, Jing’an District, Shanghai

  • Artist:

MadeIn Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Cai Jian’s solo exhibition, CHANCE, on May 17, 2024. This is the artist’s second solo exhibition at MadeIn Gallery, featuring a new series of mixed-media paintings. Cai extracts information and inspiration from his familiar online reality and refines it into a new aesthetic perception. The proliferation of short-form videos has allowed Cai to gain a swifter insight into the full range of different industries, including the jade industry, which has drawn his attention and interest to the risk-taking behaviors represented by gambling on jade stones.

Succeeding his constant focus on the absurd narratives of standardized “design” and instrumental rationality represented by daily urban objects, Cai recalibrates his focus on observing the operating system of the industries behind the objects. CHANCE extends Cai’s interrogation of the value of objects and how it is identified, as a parade of his own “gambling addiction”.

Through the application of composite materials, the “Confidence” series reflects the artist’s impulse to navigate between figurative aesthetics and conceptual thinking, along with his vision of integrating the two. Cai first collects and transforms visual characteristics from the industrial production of jade. Flowing or scattered patterns are covered with stone-like coating before being violently broken by machines. It is worth noting that this sabotaging action cannot be reversed once initiated, and the final product is regarded as either completed or discarded in the blink of an eye. The mission of “Confidence” is not its presentation per se, on the contrary, it is to constantly prompt its audience, including the artist, to consider whether it is worth the risk, or how to take the risk to achieve a more extreme visual effect. In the meantime, Cai draws on the visual experience of Chinese and Western abstract painting, applying concentric circles and lines on rock-textured images, thus suggesting the artificiality and provisionality of value determination.

The passion for jade has prevailed in China since ancient times. Jade’s popularity is positively correlated with its riskiness, deriving a complete and segmented industrial chain with gambling at every stage to maximize profits. The more uncertain the condition of raw jade, the greater the chance of profit maximization. However, this kind of gambling is never welcomed by speculators, since both stone gambling and jade quality assessment rely on the accumulation of long-term professional knowledge and highly individualized understanding and verification of value. The value of the same piece of jade or jade ware, consequently, can vary greatly depending on the viewer. Cai extends this venture game to his practice and thinking about contemporary art: on the level of cultural identity and value determination, contemporary art is as precarious as stone gambling. This comes out of the artist’s obsessive concern with the culture and art scene in which he is inevitably immersed.