Artists Historians Curators

Kang Lei

66 Photo of Kang Lei

Kang Lei experienced the systematic academy education, had trained for more than 10 years, ranging from training in the Fine Arts School Affiliated to CAFA to the period studying for a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in CAFA. Her solid shaping capability is thanks to the training of academy, but she also soberly realizes that it is necessary to properly use this ability and better play the role of originality. In fact, during her training in the academy, Kang Lei also had her own world. She liked reading, loved enjoying Beijing Opera, focusing on the traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy, while she tried her best to grasp the skills of oil painting, thinking of the similarities and differences between Chinese and Western paintings, and then exploring how to absorb the disconnection of traditional Chinese painting. It is rarely seen in the young artists born in the 1970s, probably it is related to her gaining edification and education from her family since childhood.

Kang Lei experiences and absorbs the essence of Chinese art from the depth of the culture. Drawing lessons are from a freehand language, she mainly starts from the spirit, then integrates into the language of oil painting, in order to expand and deepen the expression of oil painting, rather than shallowly misappropriating the symbol of ink and brush of Chinese painting and weakening the characteristics of oil painting language. How valuable this is!

Shao Dazhen: Creating Art for Love - Kang Lei’s Paintings

The content of my creations are often related to my experiences and interests. I created the Xinjiang series of work because I had great affection for the Tajik people and the things during my trip to the North West Region of China when I studied in CAFA as a master degree candidate, so I created from the theme for some time. Then, because of the distance and time, I changed the theme to paint the people and life surrounding me. It is actually a kind of self regression for me to paint drama, I liked drama long ago, I had created the Northern Yangko which is similar to drama in the graduation creation of the Fine Arts School Affiliated to CAFA, and created the drama theme for the university graduation. Later I also painted some paintings on the theme, but I did not create intensively. When I went abroad to see a lot of works, I often found they contained the breath of the local environment, historical tradition, culture and life, so I thought I should start from my perspective to create according to my feeling and favor, while the form of drama precisely connected the aesthetic pursuit at that stage and the fascination of the national culture, drama is a comprehensive stage art, a combination of many factors such as music, dance and fine arts, able to be integrated with the traditional factors such as shadow puppet, woodcut, New Year painting, mural painting and Chinese painting, the eyes, clothes, singing, posture, gesture... are very beautiful and freehand. The Chinese drama is different from the Western one, and Chinese painting is not as realistic as the Western one, the peculiar freehand of Chinese painting allows people more room for thinking.

Artistic Dialogue of Wu Hongliang & Kang Lei

Her creation, the constantly cascaded flowing brushes are not indulgent, never rigorously outlining, nor pursuing the sculptural shaping, but keeping the rationality of images, which is the continuation of her sketching experience. The big or small, the broad or narrow, the thick or thin brush strokes crisscross and shape with the feeling with thanks to her research in tempera skill and the flexibility in using it. Valuing it in professional terms, it is “neither paying attention to outline the details nor destroying the shape”.

Ma Lu: The Pure and Profound Eyes–Review on Kang Lei’s Artistic Creation

Kang Lei is particularly adept at dialogue through alienation for innovation. In a batch of works entitled “Distance” created recently, the dramatic figures, tempera and the blue and white porcelain have obviously formed a distance. Unlike the earlier works using red and green, Kang Lei took a monochrome blue and white in recent works. As is known to all, it is rare to use blue and white to perform the dramatic characters, let alone the use of tempera to paint blue-and-white characters. Drama characters, tempera and blue and white porcelaincan be said to be apples and oranges, but Kang Lei subtly combines them, so they not only live in peace with each other, but also form a new look with the mutual collisions. Thus, we can’t statically see the traditional which does not only stay in the past, but can also be continued into contemporary culture, to participate in the creation of contemporary art.

Peng Feng: Distance and Dialogue–Kang Lei’s Tempera Drama Characters

Trends choose to look inward, to solve the external problems, in order to pursue making the best of things in the mind. The more knowledge and thoughts on the complex social and cultural issues, the more I hope to keep a distance, hope to simplify the content of expression, to perform a simple painting, the use of artistic spirit stops the“haze” chocking “me”.

Kang Lei: On the Creative Concept of “Distance”

She is trying to explore a kind of detachment, the visual distance that is able to integrate a variety of factors into art, so that we can feel the freehand spirit of Chinese traditional culture in addition to reading the drama and viewing the painting.

Jiang Di: Following Kang Lei to “Read” Drama

About the Artist

Kang Lei was born in 1975. She graduated from the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA with a bachelor’s degree in 1999 and received a master’s degree in 2002. Currently she is a teacher of the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA, and a member of the Chinese Artists Association.


2014 Distance and Dialogue - Kang Lei Works Exhibition, Bana Museum of Contemporary Art

2014 My Soil My People Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Shandong Art Museum

2014 Zhanzhou International Comprehensive Materials Exhibition, Jinan Art Museum

2014 She Times Art Museum, Beijing Times Art Museum

2013 Elite the 1970s Oil Painting Exhibition, Today Art Museum

2013 CAFA Teachers Special Creation Exhibition, CAFA A Art Museum

2013 Across the Ocean, Contemporary Art Exhibition of Chinese Artists, The Republic of Panama, Venezuela

2013 The World in the Eyes of Chinese Artists, Yanhuang Art Museum

2013 Chinese and German New Expressionism Exhibition, The China Millennium Monument

2013 From Beijing, New York, United States

2013 The Exploring Footsteps, Shandong Art Museum

2013 Chinese Art World Trip, Berlin, Germany

2012 Future and Reality - Beijing International Art Biennale, National Art Museum of China

2012 The Most Painting, National Art Museum of China

2012 The Visible Poetry Exhibition, National Art Museum of China

2011 The 4th National Youth Art Exhibition won the Excellence Prize, National Art Museum of China

2011 Inconstantly Being Contemporary Women Art Exhibition, The China Millennium Monument

2011 “Ten Years” Works Exhibition, CAFA Art Museum

Contemporary China in the Eyes of Artists won the Excellent Prize, Guan Shanyue Art Museum, Shenzhen

2011 Watershed Works Exhibition, Jiu Art Museum

2010 CAFA Plastic Arts Exhibition, CAFA Art Museum

2010 The 4th Beijing International Art Biennale, National Art Museum of China

2009 Chinese Young Artists Elite Award-Winning Exhibition, Beijing Times Art Museum

2009 The Status of Growth Contemporary Art Invitational Exhibition, Huantie Times Art Museum

2009 No Mirror Woman Art Exhibition, WhiteBoxArt Museum

2009 Art China Cutting-Edge Works Exhibition, Huantie Times Art Museum

2009 Impression of Contemporary 10 Chinese Artists Exhibition, Beijing Times Art Museum

2008 Pingyuan (Horizontally Looking at), CAFA 5 Artists Exhibition, Today Art Museum

2008 Oil Painting Exhibition ofContemporary Chinese Female Painters, Beijing Kaisheng Art Museum

2008 Comrades - CAFA Teachers Works Exhibition, Changliu Art Museum, Taipei

2007 Fusion and Creation Exhibition, Capital Museum

2007 Round Painting Exhibition, Anne Gallery

2006 Hangzhou West Lake International Painting Forum

2005 Colleagues• Comrades– CAFA Teachers Works Exhibition, CAFA Art Museum

2005 Nature and Man Landscape Oil Painting Exhibition, National Art Museum of China

2004 The 2nd National Minority Art Exhibition won the Bronze Prize, Beijing Working People’s Culture Palace

2004 Chinese Islamic Painting Exhibition, Syria

2003 The 3rd Chinese Oil Painting Exhibition, National Art Museum of China

2003 Today Art Museum the First Youth Art Exhibition, Today Art Museum

2002 Northwest China Documentary exhibition, National Art Museum of China


2012 “The Classic of Western Drawing Language – Post-Impressionism Sketch”, People’s Fine Arts Publishing House

2011 Catalogue of “Kang Lei”, Hebei Fine Arts Publishing House

2004 “Kang Lei’s Teaching”, People's Fine Arts Publishing House

Courtesy of the artist, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO