Living is merely the chaos of eixtence. But the reality that is waiting for me is not a fresh reality.
— Mishima Yukio, Golden Pavilion Temple
Chambers Fine Art is excited to announce the solo exhibition The Golden Pavilion by artist Tiger Chengliang Cai will open in the online virtual exhibition space Topbidder Artbyss. Cai was born in Shanghai, China in 1984 and now lives in New York. He is a visual artist and film director, and his works includes painting, animation, video art, experimental film, installation, digital art and NFTs. His works reference science fiction, mythology, alternative histories, the boundary between dreams and reality, and how individuals deal with these topics.
“Not long ago, in the galaxy where we live, there was a beautiful planet with a group of happy cosmic creatures called the 'funny fellows'. On this 'Wonderland', they worked hard to realize their ideals and developed the planet, using every inch of land at their disposal. The planet was technologically advanced, and civilization was prosperous. The funny fellows even built spacecraft and began to explore interstellar space.
All was well until one day, they used up all the natural resources on the planet. The world was covered with dust, and natural disasters like hurricanes, tsunamis and landslides followed. The once prosperous society lost control of the meteorites that were mined from the outer universe, causing them to fall and crash into the planet. Then, a plague appeared that swept the entire planet. The happy cosmic creatures were no longer happy. In the face of these disasters, every creature, responded differently and made different choices. There were heroes, losers, doctors trying to save everyone, and careerists who took advantage of the chaos.
At the end of this utopian civilization, it is said that there was a group of guardians of the civilization. They built an ark, saved all the achievements of the civilization on the ark as a museum drifting in the cosmos, and then sailed the spaceship to the unknown. All the records and images about Wonderland we see today are from this drifting Ark Museum.”
The works on display The Golden Pavilion are selected from the series of Wonderland and the Funny Fellowsby artist Tiger Cai. The title of the exhibition is derived from the literary work "Kinkakuji Temple" created by Yukio Mishima that is based on the actual Kinkakuji arson incident.
Cai’s creations continue to focus on the major dangers that come randomly and the reactions of sentient beings in the face of these disasters. In reality, no matter what differences there are between individuals, no matter how ambitious people are, we all will still encounter—and in fact we may be experiencing—the sudden collapse of the world as we know it.
These portrait-style works focus on individuals confronting desperate situations. Facing their own sudden extinction, each of them has its own unique attitude and reaction. Sadness and fear are intertwined, anger and madness are tied together, and absurd optimism is mixed with calmness. Looking at these cosmic people who are both righteous and evil, you may feel like you recognize them. Perhaps this is a portrait of ourselves — a portrait of a group of ordinary people living in a diverse but disturbed world, trying to survive an uncertain crisis.
In the work The Oracle, one of the Funny Fellows journeys to the oracle on the top of the mountain to search for answers to all things. In their religion, the creator is a huge doughnut. Upon reaching the end of his journey, he discovers that the so-called oracle is nothing but a neon sign in the shape of a donut. He simply embarks on his next journey.
Burning records a group of Funny Fellows staring at a temple that is being consumed by fire. Cai Chengliang references The Golden Pavilion here to express the destruction of beauty and the sublime. But with the soundtrack and sudden appearance of a flute player in the piece, he also incorporates what he calls "optimistic fatalism", that he observes in people of all kinds as they "watch the fire from the shore" – watching a disaster with a full range of conflicting emotions, including optimism and levity. This unexpected and playful black humor to the work adds to the complexity of emotion at play.
Perhaps these works depict brave idealists seeking benevolence, or the cherry blossoms often referred to in the spirit of Bushido. This exhibition can be seen as a barricade that prevents us from jumping into utopia without any fear in the moment, but it can also be seen as a mirror hanging overhead, or a lamp high above, illuminating the tip of the iceberg of our existence and leading to the infinite possibilities of the next unknown.