Cai Jin

Cai Jin
b. 1965, Anhui
Oil painter
Cai Jin graduated from the Art Department of Anhui Normal University (1986) and, from a specialization course in the Oil Painting Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (1991). She was then hired as a professor in the Education Department of the Tianjin Art Academy, a position she still holds, after having spent several years in New York City.
Since the early 1990s, Cai Jin has been obsessively painting a single theme, entitled (Beauty) Banana Series (Meirenjiao). She traces her inspiration to the dried and contorted shapes of banana leaves, common to her native southern Anhui, which sag and curl around the trunks during winter. The supposedly vegetal matter referred to in the title is processed into a flesh-like substance, rotten and yet vital, which is then painted on soft surfaces such as mattresses, shoes, bicycle seats and cushions, suggesting the image of a wound that cannot heal. Alternatively, her disturbing compositions also suggest an experience of descending into the deep realms of the soul, offering graphic descriptions of unsuspected inner turbulence.
Cai Jin has often associated her work with painstaking and obsessive practices, similar to traditional feminine chores such as sewing or knitting, where the creative process, not the final product, is the goal. She has taken part in numerous exhibitions in China and overseas, including ‘Century-Woman’ in Beijing (Spring, 1998) and ‘Die Hälfte des Himmels’ [Half of the Sky] at the Frauenmusuem in Bonn, Germany (1998). She lives in Beijing and New York.
Dal Lago, Francesca (1999). ‘Embroidering with Paint’. In Off the Canvas (exhibition catalogue). Beijing: The Courtyard Gallery. [Reprinted in Wu Hong (ed.) (2001). Chinese Art at the Crossroads: Between Past and Future. Hong Kong: New Art Media.]
Wu, Hung (1999). ‘Rotten Red’. In idem, Transience: Chinese Experimental Art at the End of the 20th Century. Chicago: University of Chicago/David and Alfred Smart Museum, 83–7.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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