Zhang Kaixi (Zhang Yong) 张开溪（张勇）:
Born in Rongxian, Sichuan in 1974. Enrolled into the Department of Oil Painting of the Sichuan Academy
of Fine Arts in 2000; enrolled as a postgraduate student for master degree in the Art College of the South
west Nationality University. Teaching at the Sichuan Art & Vocational College from 1022; a specially-invited
painter at the Bashu Institute of Painting and Calligraphy.
2008: Chengdu Chunsha Exhibition 2012 at the Sichuan Fine Arts Gallery, Chengdu;
Art Network 99 Young Artists Recommended Exhibition, Shanghai;
Asia Contemporary Art Expo, New York;
2009: “The Polar Tension” Contemporary Famous Artists’ Invitational Exhibition in Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai, Chengdu;
2010: Nongyuan Art Village Annual Exhibition 2010, Chengdu;
Opening Exhibition of Outlets Art Space, Chengdu;
2011: “Exception” – Chengdu Chunsha Business Plan (the First Season) Exhibition, Langqiao Art Space, Chengdu;
Nongyuan Art Village Annual Exhibition 2010, Chengdu;
2013: Nature of Things – 2013 Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Chao Art Center, Chengdu.
Chaos and Myth: 6 Chinese Young Artists Joint Exhibition，HdA Kunstsalon Berlin
Spiritual Expression and Experience of the Era
By Mei Shifang
Zhang Kaixi is an artist with a pure moral character, who is not good at expressing his spiritual world in discourse.
As an artist it may be more interesting to present it in an artistic way of his own. Compared with other contemporary
artists, Zhang Kaixi doesn’t question what “art” is, nor examine the so-called “big reason”. What he does is just to reflect
his experience of the present era in his works. Just because of his pure, childish heart, how he faces up to the oppression
that the torrent of the era has given to individuals is perhaps like the characters in Jin Yong’s novels who are either happy
like blood brothers, or a roar of the ocean, which is the best way to settle the multifarious affairs of human life. When
social culture has developed to the present day, we are facing an era that has never been in existence before. The existing
cultural experience can’t calm our heart and human beings constantly seek the meaning of survival or the reason of staying
alive, but it’s better to observe the world in a simple way like he does as that may be an effective way.
June 4, 2012
(Mei Shifang: Artist)
Cultivation and Attainment: On Zhang Kaixi and His Paintings
By Qiu Guangping
Zhang Yong, the old name of Zhang Kaixi, is a common name as well as a popular name. Just due to the commonness
and popularity, people easily forget it. But when you stand in front of Zhang Kaixi’s oil paintings, you will be touched
deeply as if stung by a bee – a little ache and a little itching. The dense brushwork is like a swarm of ants hurting the
nerve terminal of the viewer. The surrealistic scenes are like huge magnetic fields that can pull you up close, closer and
closer. This is an art stylite who has been working on canvas silently for decades. All energies come from his inner world,
deep and thick that is written at the tip of his brushes little by little.
Zhang Kaixi, as old as me, is a townsman with me, so we have maintained a very good relationship. He worked as a teacher
for a few years and broke away from his town to pursue art in a bold manner nonconforming to his character. It changed his
life since then as the outside world was so complex and so noisy that almost suffocated him. Then he chose to evade it and
remains within doors living, reading and painting even when being physically in a metropolis; it has been his mode for many
years refusing to remain in touch with others while being short of money, too. During those years he said he seldom saw the
sunshine. Man lives in his spiritual world and Zhang Kaixi has built a very powerful spiritual fortress in his inner world in which
a supreme spiritual leader of art is worshipped. He spent years making up his shortage of techniques by trying to get a complete
understanding of classicism and impressionism either occidental or oriental. Like a devout Buddhist, he has a heart as still as
water that delicately feels the dribs and drabs art has brought to him. But art is developing and changing forward ceaselessly.
On one day when Zhang Kaixi opened his long-closed window of mind, he discovered that the outside world had unveiled a new
horizon, in which impacts caused by various novel artistic ideological trends exerted a great shock to his inner world. He decided
to review the world as he wanted to take a look around.
Outside old pals mostly have given up their artistic pursuit and disappeared in the changeable world. When I saw him again, Zhang Kaixi
told me he still had a dream fro art and would not give up, showing an expression in his eyes with aspiration and expectation. I encouraged
him to sit for examination for postgraduate studies so as to change his life style and mood that may offer him new trials. The moment he
turned and went away, he was in calmness without any disconsolation. In the next three years Zhang Kaixi would call me every time after
his examination for postgraduate studies and would not bat an eye even when he failed in the exam, producing a smile and promising to take
part in the exam again next year. Till now I’m still not clear how he spent the three years while taking the examinations. In hot summer in
Chongqing, he cloistered with his family in the low, small apartment of the hilly city, working diligently for his ideal cherished deeply in his
heart. It was in 2007 that he called me to say he had passed the exam and I just relaxed a little bit for him with an emotion to cry. I know it
was an important day in his life, which he had been expecting for years – the sun had last cast its shine upon him, thus he couldn’t help gulping
the fresh air outside.
During his postgraduate studies, Zhang Kaixi produced a large number of excellent works as he let off all of his inspiration that he had gained
in his years of meditation on the canvas. As he was not good at speech, he took painting as a best means to express himself. He was invited to
participate in a number of major academic exhibitions both at home and abroad, at which his works caught the attention of collectors and
were collected thereafter. His exquisite techniques were given full play in his series of oil paintings titled Mass Production and received good
appraisals from his peers in the circle. In his Living on the Fringe series, he began to put his focus on social reality and seeking of inspiration and
reflection in the deep bottom of man’s nature. His frames still keep his usual realistic style in veiled, massive colors that show both classical
flavor and postmodernist ideas. Such frames are rarely seen in the contemporary artistic context, and just because of that, we can believe this
rarity will become particularly precious and will open up a new horizon in the near future.
Zhang Kaixi is a diligent painter, a well-cultivated painter in the inner world, a painter whose reasoning exceeds his sensibility and a very
persistent painter as well. He often says that he almost has no hobby other than painting, which is a happiest thing in his life. He can stay in his
studio all day long even without blurting out a single sentence as he is exchanging ideas with himself. It’s already more than a decade since I
made acquaintance with him, but I remember that I have never seen him losing temper; he talks gently, works gently, and walks gently as an
immortal who has attained the doctrine. In the society today there is a lot of fickleness and uneasiness, but when staying with Zhang Kaixi, you
will be infested and purified so that you will feel just taking a cup of green tea. I think this is a realm. Now that Zhang Kaixi has graduated from
his postgraduate studies, he says he wants to teach at school, to stay with the unsophisticated students. I concur with him and wish him good
luck as I know he will begin another round of meditation on the way. Meditation and attainment depend on how one understands in the heart.
Today with a pious and kind heart, Zhang Kaixi continues his journey on the way to art. Perhaps a few years later when we catch him again, he
will be a person who has achieved attainments.
(Qiu Guangping: artist)