Place of originVictoria, Australia
Mediumoil on canvas
Dimensions180 x 90 cm
CreditWinner Calleen Art Award 2017
Excerpt from The Calleen Collection by Peter Haynes (2019)
Zai Kuang was born in China in 1962 and studied Fine Art at the Academy of Art and Design, Tsinghua University where he received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Since his arrival in Australia he received a Master’s (by research) from Monash University, Melbourne. Zai has had over 20 years teaching at university in China and in Australia. Currently he teaches at the Xiao Yu Art Studio in Clayton, Melbourne. He has been a finalist in the Doug Moran Portrait Prize, the Archibald Prize, the Sulman Prize, the Fleurieu Art Prize, the Albany Art Prize, the Willoughby Art Prize and many others in Australia. In China he was a finalist in the National Young Artist Exhibition, the 8th National Art Exhibition, the 2nd National Still Life Exhibition and the National Sport Exhibition. Zai Kuang has participated in over 50 solo and group exhibitions and his work is in the BHP Billiton Collection, the Monash University Art Collection, the Macquarie University Collection and private collections nationally and internationally. The artist lives and works in Melbourne.
Audery reveals the artist’s extraordinary technical skill. This is seen particularly in his treatment of the bed linen and the child’s pyjamas. The long narrow format of the painting is perhaps a nod to the Chinese scrolls of his cultural heritage. Here it creates a feeling of compressed space, a feeling echoed by the placement of the bed pushed against the corner of the room. There is a pleasantness in the palette of greys, blues and pink and this dissipates the psychological awkwardness of the child’s pose. Ken Smith, former Lecturer at Monash University says of Zai Kuang that “the human figures that are within (his) paintings are usually solitary and they are often children within an interior space and associated with objects of play…..Zai Kuang approaches his images of children with a tender sympathy. He hints at their inner life but does not attempt to prescribe this. …Zai Kuang is fascinated by visual phenomena, the colour of skin, the folds of fabric, and how light moves across these forms and both reveals and disguises them….. Zai Kuang attempts to make pictorial compositions of clarity and authority that contain in their totality the poetry that he experiences in looking fondly at the world around him”.