Kai Chan, born 1940, China.
How can Canada and United States be so close geographically and somehow manage NOT to share their artist treasures internationally?? This post will introduce you, as I was three weeks ago, to Kai Chan, a Toronto-based artist also known for his sculptural jewelry and interior, exhibition and theatre design. His sculptural works utilizing everyday materials are being featured currently in an exhibition at the Textile Museum of Canada. Other exhibits of his work recently ended at Varley Art Gallery Markham and David Kaye Gallery
Kai Chan, G, detail, 2004. Chan uses a jewelry drill on each toothpick to allow him to string them on lengths of thread.
The catalogue that accompanies the exhibition notes, “The toothpicks hang together like items on a list, like notes on a musical scale. The shape of the toothpick is like a brushstroke, one end being broader than the other.” (from Kai Chan, catalogue for “Rainbow Lakes”, an exhibition in 2001 at the Art Gallery of Mississauga).
Since I am beginning this year contemplating new innovations for my own work, Chan’s explorations of simple materials and processes in the works that reference language marks, list-making and scrolls are informing my own deliberations.