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Suprematist Space

2022. 10. 15 – 11. 19
Cai Lei

The most important issue in Cai Lei’s (蔡磊) work is “space”. It is the charm of the sculpture work itself and the testament of the artist’s conceptual thinking. At the same time, it is also a vessel that ultimately contains personal feelings and reality.

The most important expression in Cai Lei’s creations is “perspective”, which gives various forms and perceptions (知覺) to space. He constantly compresses, folds, stretches, and pulls the relationship between time and space, guiding the viewers’ gaze to a specific place. However, it is not the “perspective” itself that Cai Lei considers important, neither is the linguistic play of “perspective” that is commonly seen in art. Instead, it is the perception that “perspective” creates, and the emotional change created by distance (距離) and gaze.

Cai Lei’s work can’t be said as a simple development of formalism. Although what we see in his work is the space depth, the perspective shrinking, and the sculpted space, but the length, order and rhythm come from the real life and experiences of the artist. It is originated from the memories of several generations of people, and it can be experienced in all spaces and eras. The sculptures on the walls, floors, and corners evoke the memories of one day in the 1980s in the yard. The sunlight shining down at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the narrow kitchen with tiles from his childhood, or the corner of the room in Kafka’s novel, the narrow flat hallway that appears in Eastern European movies… When we look at Cai Lei’s work, we will subconsciously recall the past memories about space. At that moment, what the viewer experienced and perceived would completely be connected. In this process of connecting, the space, perspective, and texture that you experienced in the past would bring you into the depths of your memory.

Cai Lei’s simplification of the difference between abstractionism and minimalism in terms of form is by no means intended to use form as a mystery “emptiness” and “geometric creations”. He redefines and creates reality through the expression of space, perspective, and materials, and by doing so making “abstract” technique became a realism close to psychology (心理) and feeling. It starts from “reality” and “physical experience”, and eventually becomes the highest emotion transcending physical and emotion. This emotion is not only the highest form, but the highest spirit. It transcends the denial of form after modernism. The form is denial of a long history of form.

Time always has a texture, and the texture of space also derives from time. It could be long, and it could be short. If we put the reality of a moment in a time of a day, the reality would become so strong that it would do more than compress the space we have. Alternatively, if we put the reality in a time of 10 years, the reality of that moment would just be a flow of memory, and the moment would seem extremely short. If we set the time to a thousand years, everything would be nothing more than the admiration that microorganism (微物) burst in an instant. In Cai Lei’s work, the perspective of a particular focus, the texture created by the weathering (風化) of time, always draw us into the time distance (距離). The flat space, flowing gold gleam, and very close distance draw us into collective memory. But at the same time, it constantly pushes us out of the collective memory, making us feel as if we were in a completely different world. In this process, we would stare at ourselves and meet ourselves.

At different times of the day, as the light falls into space and removes the scene of the story, the “space” and “time” of Cai Lei’s work reveal themselves. The movement of light is the only trace of change in the work., although some degrees of loneliness permeate this revelation. It would reveal the story and uncover the secret. In a pure space, in a kind of simplified rhythm, we would be able understand more easily the meaning of history. The highest emotion leads you to enter metaphysical thinking transcending reality.

Social properties of shabby houses, reinforced concretes, gilded lusters, reliefs (浮彫), interior spaces, buildings, theaters, and spaces are expressed in Cai Lei’s various creative stages. They are connected with various experiences of reality. Those experience may be the memories of many people looking back on times, and they may also be someone’s secret memories. There are also broken stairs or remaining structures. However, these diverse perceptions eventually become the best language. Through dimensional reduction, ambiguity, scene division, square meter, unit, and space methods, the structure of cubism and the starting point of abstractionism and the expression of minimalism are combined. They are combined to form a completely new relationship of proportion, order, and structure in Cai Lei’s works. And finally, climbing the stairs, starting from the experience, to reach the highest space and time.

Tang Contemporary Art
6, Apgujeong-ro 75-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea
+82 2 3445 8889

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