Born in 1983 in Jilin Province, China, Cai Lei works and lives in Beijing. He was graduated from the secondary School associated with Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts in 2000 and from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2009.
Cai Lei’s sculptures, recreating objects or human figures, are characterized by their astonishing hyper-realism. His works are infused with emotion and poetry, striking a balance between seeming fragile and inanimate. Through the tranquil and flat green water in a bathtub filled with baptized branches, the artist aims to convey absurdity and hope. Through depicting androgynous, yet gendered, slender young bodies encased in white boxes reminiscent of a sarcophagus or a shocking skeletal figure of an elderly man lying on a hospital or autopsy like table, his works stir an emotional response from the viewer, causing a feeling of ambiguity or slight discomfort, to fear and dismay in its audiences. The eccentric beauty of his installations cannot be dissociated from the brutal splendor of reality. The artist’s intent is to provoke emotions and thus reflections on the facts of existence often avoided, such as the passing of time and its consequences. In order for a piece to be as close as possible to the truth, Cai Lei is very attentive to his materials and their qualities.
Cai Lei's works have won numerous awards, and have been exhibited at the Moon River Museum in Beijing, the Liu Hai Su Museum in Shanghai and Museum of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in Chongqing. The acclaimed exhibition East / West: Visually Speaking organized by The Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette also featured the installation We Series. This show travelled extensively. It was on view at the MoCA Jacksonville, the Colorado University Art Museum, the Frost Art Museum in Miami, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Oregon, the Yellowstone Art Museum and the Art Museum of South Texas.
“What I want to express is the reality of the piece. It must contain vivid and truthful feelings, and it must not tell lies, nor be deliberate and artificial. My own feelings should be strongly expressed through my works, and I hope they do not need too much explanation, as everything should be directly reflected through the pieces. My work originates from my personal experiences, feelings and my own interpretation of life! Submerging life into the artwork itself, or even into a specific part of it, allows it to emit a truth (only the genuine can conquer the heart and stir the soul) that resonates with the viewers.”- Cai Lei
Graduate work "We" and "They" won the Class Two award in the Central Academy of Fine Arts
Sculpture, "Dressing", won the Class One award in the Central Academy of Fine Arts
Oil painting, "Changing", collected by the Central Academy of Fine Arts
Sketch, "Duo", won the Class Two award in the Central Academy of Fine Arts
5th 54 International Young Art Festivals 2012, Enjoy Museum of Art, Beijing,China
Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, USA
Art Museum of South Texas, South Texas
Institute for the Arts, Corpus Christi, USA
Hardworking- Group Exhibitions of New Realistic Sculptors, 0 Field Art Centre, Beijing, China
University Art Museum, Colorado State University, Fort Collins
One and One - Group Exhibition of Contemporary Young Artist, Times Art Museum, Beijing, China
East/West: Visually Speaking, Paul and Lulu Hilliand University Art Museum, University of Louisiana, Lafayette
MoCA Jacksonville, Jacksonville
The Start of a Long Journey - The Collection of Excellent Graduation Works,Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China
Not in Reality, 0 Field Art Centre, Beijing, China
Troublemaker, Moon River Museum of Contemporary Art, Beijing, China
Art Fairs Shanghai Exhibition Centre, Shanghai, China
Liu Hai Su Museum, Shanghai, China
Museum of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, Sichuan, China