Kang Haoxian’s first art teacher was the religious paintings hanging in his family home. Those images of Chinese deities not only became his first models, but cultivated his lifelong interest in Chinese religion and mysticism.
His first completed on-easel acrylic painting was “Lost in Cat Country” – a pieces that opened him to the world of traditional arts. He held his first individual exhibition at Beijing’s Zoo Coffee in 2014. He has participated in scores of other groups exhibitions around the country ever since.
Before reaching the public, Kang already earned another name for himself: Mr. Deer. In his early illustrations, warm and dreamy tones with a center model of a deer were the main theme of his creation. His personal interests in both science and divination set the tone of Kang’s creations and led him to develop new interpretations of his favorite things.
As a student of digital animation, Kang’s pursuit of a career in traditional art is highly unusual. Much of his creative approach is informed by his experience as an animation student. The experience working on a moving screen gives him a bigger creative space to develop his works.
In A Secret Dinner, Kang depicts animals taking revenge on humans. The scene is inspired by a cartoon movie he saw called The Pirates! Though featuring fairytale illustration the painting projects a dark and ironic tone in showing how animals might put humans on the menu.
“There was a scene where presidents from around the world ate the rarest animals to show their power. The Queen of England chose to eat a dodo. I was thinking, why animals couldn’t take revenge and do the same to humans?” Kang says.
Kang is obsessed with scientific rigor and the search for knowledge. Two great scientists, Charles Darwin and Nikola Tesla, make their appearance in his paintings Me and Darwin and To Nikola Tesla.
“In my science paintings, I want people to remember the treasures these great explorers left for us. No matter whether it was Darwin or Tesla, they turned their crazy minds to the search for truth, which is highly admirable,” Kang says.
In Me and Darwin, a cat-faced man sits beside the great biologist. On table ahead of them stand butterflies, skeletons, bugs and cages. Kang said each element is linked to art or nature and they are intended to show the connection between art and science.
In the future, Kang wants to explore the intersection of art and animation.
“Inspiration never comes to me in a flash. It takes time and patience. It reflects personal taste and background. The seeds need to be recreated and rearranged within the mind,” Kang says.