Art & History

Apocalypse in Oils: Jia Aili’s dark take on the rise of China

Jia Aili was born in the northern Chinese city of Dandong in 1979, a town on the North Korean border known for its icy winters and gloomy horizons. And the melancholic mood of these surroundings certainly seems to have influenced the tone of his oil paintings.

Combining contemporary art with the traditional figurative style of the Old Masters, Aili’s work conveys a sense of morbid fascination with the technological progress and drastic changes in China over the past 50 years. His epic, visionary paintings typically centre around isolated, masked figures in the midst of merciless, apocalyptic surroundings, conveying a brutally intense sense of alienation from the modern world.

Now a new book is bringing together his best work from recent decades. Published by Hatje Cantz, Stardust Hermit, Aili’s first monograph, depicts a futuristic scenario in which humankind is merely a fleeting episode.

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