Horizon 《水平》

Cai Jian

December 9, 2021–January 8, 2022

MINE PROJECT is pleased to present “Horizon,” Shanghai-based artist Cai Jian’s first solo exhibition with the gallery as well as in Hong Kong, showcasing his “Horizon” series that is based on spirit levels.

A commonly used instrument in artistic practices and exhibitions, the spirit levels indicate the horizontal level of an object or space based on the displacement of the bubble inside. Cai Jian renders the images of the spirit levels through 3D modeling, pre-sets different inclinations and perspectives, and transfers the images to irregularly-shaped canvas with airbrushing. During the process, Cai tries to remove as many human traces as possible to achieve a sense of calmness seen in product rendering. When the spirit level is enlarged and translated into a painting, it loses its functionality yet leads viewers to observe and ponder over the relationship between the spirit level, the painting, and also the real level. In this exhibition, all levels of works are produced with minor differences and are lined up, which is the designated presentation the artist thought of since the inception of this series. The repetition creates a visual bombardment that amplifies the viewer’s doubts about horizontal validity and alienates their habitual perception of the spirit level.

This everyday object being magnified to become the visual focus on white walls reveal the power of the image itself. These large, seductive fluorescent green “spirit levels” not only provide an illusory view but also bring out a surreal sensation. The functionality and meaning of the object are eliminated after the ordinary image is repetitively depicted. A new symbol is generated and a new visuality is formed. The approach of replication reflects the style of pop art. The pursuit of three-dimensional illusion, the extreme representation of the original texture of the objects, and the quantified differences refer to the aesthetics on balance and imbalance and update the meaning of classicism.

“It reminds me of the theory of classical aesthetics from William Hogarth—they are a wonderful set of examples of ‘analysis of beauty’ in the new world.”
—— Wang Jiang, curator & writer


About the Artist

Cai Jian (b. 1993, Chaozhou, Guangdong) works across paintings and installations. Starting from the focus on materials, objects, and repetitive behaviors that occurred in the painting process, Cai expands his study to pop art and popular culture. Through repeated depictions of everyday objects and cultural symbols, the artist explores materials, images, and contemporary vision.

Cai Jian received his BFA from Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 2018. He currently lives and works between Guangzhou and Shanghai.

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