PIFO Artists | Kang Haitao: Beyond the Time

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Kang Haitao

Born in 1976, Chongqing

The backbone of China's post-70s generation of artists

He transformed the daily life experience into epic landscape paintings

Kang has participated in 21st Century Minsheng Museum, Long Museum and several international exhibitions

His works are held by the Long Museum, Shanghai 21st Century Minsheng Museum as well as private collectors

Kang Haitao,2017


I have become night itself

Kang Haitao raised up at Beibei, not far from southwest Normal University. The campus and the surrounding mountainous scenery especially at night are mysterious, deeply attracts him. As he said:"I have become night itself...There are a few forms that I've always been familiar with; as soon as I close my eyes they appear, like nightmares I can't drive away, I can only put them down on paper."

The world of images and lights depicted in Kang Haitao’s paintings are by all means a record and statement of all the surroundings: the distant mountains in the dead of night, the lonesome and dim lights at the gas station, the gloomily-lit corridor, and the wall full of mottled light and shade. The ordinary settings, which suggest a sense of tranquility and illusoriness, constantly indicate a complicated, profound viewpoint on society and a particular sense of spiritual anxiety at the moment.

In the Mirror, 2013
Acrylic on paperboard
87 x 223 cm

Valley, 2009
Acrylic on paperboard
102 x 202 cm

The "JIMO" technique used by Kang Haitao in his works is influenced by traditional Chinese paintings. Dong Qichang, a landscape painter of the Ming Dynasty, said, “Painters learn from the precedents at the beginning but from the creative transformation itself at a later stage”. Kang Haitao frequently gets into nature to capture plenty of nightly scenes using his camera and then transforming them into paintings using the "JIMO " technique. Without paying too much attention to the minutiae, the artist tends to wholly capture the spectacles of lights and images in the process of time accumulating and passing. By manifesting the captures, the artist further relates the presence of the paintings to his own personality.
“The fine, elaborate details in the pictures are no more than representations. The most important thing is to maintain the sensitivity and continually have a good command of the aura and atmosphere. For example, Gerhard Richter’s works suggest a philosophical sense. He blurs the distinction between ways of viewing things by providing the audience with a comprehensive way of thinking and conceptualizing it. I usually derive a concrete scene from everyday life in order to signify it, spiritualize it, and present its mysterious qualities in the paintings”, said the artist.

Shadow of the Trees, 2007
Acrylic on paper
112 x 147 cm

Old House, 2007

Acrylic on paperboard

112 x 157 cm


A hidden 'x'

The first 'x' can be called a mark because of its specific function (except that here it is ametaphor for an unformed thought); then the second, the third...layer upon layer the paper becomes a web of dense markings, until it becomes a subconscious action. Now the 'x' appears more like a kind of simple imprint rather than a mark, and its function has been replaced by an x-shaped symbol; on and on until it is replaced by a new symbol that flickers from the mind.
Kang Haitao's abstract works start from a blank space – the void. His process is almost meditative, a sort of antithetical response to the intensity of his ‘night scenes’ work, yet he does not consider these works to come from any psychological (conscious or unconscious) experience. Kang’s abstract works are created through a continuous affirmative and negative process, intuition and spirituality, absence and presence.

The Pond at Dusk, 2007
Acrylic on paperboard
91 × 237 cm

Shadow 1/2, 2014
Acrylic on paperboard
113 x 243 cm

Two Trees, 2011
Acrylic on paperboard
176 x 101 cm


Memory of Light

Kang Haitao’s early nightscape paintings were indeed nightmarish in a certain way. The thickness of the dark night, the flickering dim lights, and the illusory and crooked trees – all are turned into a touching yet unnerving final tranquility by virtue of the peaceful remnants of a violent combustion.

A different 
Wall, painted in 2010, demonstrates a considerable change: unlike the previous visual illusion that tried to appear ‘objective’, this painting explicitly highlights some abstract elements. Bushes, parapets, and pavements were painted in geometric shapes; light and shadows were compressed into highly succinct blocks of colour; there were also fewer brush strokes and reduced palette. Another direction of change has been displayed in In the Mirror (2013). Trees in pine green,
the pine green of the leaves and wood tones of branches; it also features richer stylistic details (windows, walls, branches, shadows of trees etc.,) and subtler layers of light and shadow – together constructing a poignant and poetic everyday scene. However, in the serene, dreamlike and rather splendid visual atmosphere in the Memory of Light, the artist’s perceptive awareness of site turns into deeper and more imposing experience of the social and life-experiential – as is suggested by the painting’s title.

Untitled, 2011
Acrylic on paperboard
66 x 46 cm

Untitled, 2013
Acrylic on paperboard
53.5 x 76.5 cm

Wall, 2016-2017
Acrylic on paperboard
140 x 243 cm

When Kang Haitao made the turn to landscape painting around 2005, he went through a period of deep introspection, concerned with the interrogation of the ‘contemporariness’ of his work. Between academic value and his own inner experience, he opted for the latter without hesitation. From his initial nightmarish nightscapes, to the abstract or faded everyday landscapes, and to his recent imagistic landscapes that absorb the sophisticated experience of viewing pre-existing imagery, all these are the landscapes seen through the eyes of a restless witness.

Kang Haitao’s process of artistic creation is more like finishing an assignment. The paints and strokes simply function as the materials, and the layered strokes, accumulated time and long-term, calm working conditions demonstrate that the emotions are to be vanished and released. His way of painting resembles the building of a spiritual structure by means of bricks and cement. With the sophisticatedly profound spirituality, the indeterminate yet sagely lyrical posture and the moderately solemn maturity, the artist has utterly demonstrated a new ideal of the “post-70s generation” art in China.

Boundary, 2019
Acrylic on paperboard
320 x 485 cm

Summer Exhibition 2020, PIFO Gallery, Installation view

It is just as Heidegger suggested: the reality of art is more important than modern science or philosophy, because art is the only weapon to withstand the paucity of daily experience resulting from the polarization and mechaniation of “modern times. Perhaps, for Kang Haitao's works, the word reality "may be substituted by a more appropriate term: spirituality.

——Bao Dong

From Kang Haitao's works, we could hear nothing but peace. It is a sensation as pour as a cadenza in a symphony with no artless note. Blended darknesses of different levels penetrate into the viewer's heart, like drank into a flute melody from the deep woods.

——Wang Xinyou

Night, 2016
Acrylic on paperboard
221 x 152 cm

About the Artist

Swipe up

Kang Haitao, Chinese, b.1976, Chongqing, graduated from Sichuan Fine Arts Academy. Lives and works in Chengdu, Mianyang.

Solo Exhibitions


Kang Haitao, PIFO Gallery, Beijing


Ge-Stell: Kang Haitao, Lelege Art, Beijing


Forward: Contemporary Art & Contemporary City 1, Shanghai Mingsheng Art Museum, Shanghai


A Burning Within: Kang Haitao, PIFO Gallery, Beijing

Kang Haitao, VA Gallery, Hong Kong


Introversion and Meditation: Solo Exhibition of Kang Haitao, PIFO Gallery, Beijing


Inward: Kang Haitao, Mianyang


Group Exhibitions


Summer Exhibition 2020, PIFO Gallery, Beijing

Words Are Very: Unnecessary. Diverse Notions of Body and Language in Global Artistic Practice, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou


The Gaze of History: Contemporary Chinese Art Revisited, Jupiter Art Museum, Shenzhen

Abstract Art 12, PIFO Gallery, Beijing

Fortunate Art Stone: About a Number of Questions and Answers, Yellspace & 126 Creative Park, Mianyang

Witness and Express, Songzhuang Art Museum, Beijing

Conceptual · Disposition, Art Museum of HIFA, Wuhan

Being Sharp: A Group Exhibition of Figurative Art, PIFO Gallery, Beijing


Gathering of Masters · South Lake. The White Dew - Contemporary Chinese Art Exhibition, The Art Museum of HZAU,Wuhan

Another Aleph: Chinese and German Contemporary Art Exhibition & DE Gallery Opening Exhibition, DE Gallery, Xiamen

Abstract Art 11: Abstraction as Painterly Rhetoric. A case Study Between Germany and China, PIFO Gallery, Beijing


Post-plainness, PU ART, Beijing

Decade: Abstract Art 10, PIFO Gallery, Beijing


Beijing 798 Impression, National Geographic Museum, Rome

Poetic Community, Xiamen Port Authority, Xiamen

Drawing the Beginning, La Galerie Épisodique, Paris

Poétique: Abstract Art 9, PIFO Gallery, Beijing

Return: Poetic Dwelling in Contemporary Art, PIFO Gallery, Beijing


Inward: Abstract Art 8, PIFO Gallery, Beijing

In Between Sceneries: Intuition and Experience, TOKYO GALLERY + BTAP, Beijing


COSMOS: Opening Exhibition of Shanghai 21st Century Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai 21st Century Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai

Social Landscape: The Landscape Narration in Chinese Contemporary painting As Well As Its Cultural Concept Changes, Chengdu International Communication Center For Cultural and Art Pieces, Chengdu

Awakening Intuition of China: The First Exhibition, Enjoy Art Museum, Beijing

Normal & Abnormal Scenery, Lelege Art, Beijing

The Moment, The Place: Abstract Art 7, PIFO Gallery, Beijing

Re-View-Opening Exhibition of Long Museum West Bund, Long Museum, Shanghai

New Generation of Abstract Art, Sishang Art Museum, Beijing

Beijing Young Collectors 1+1 Invitational Exhibition, Linart Café, Beijing


Criss-Cross: Artworks of Young Chinese Contemporary Artists from Long Collection, Long Museum, Shanghai

China – Eastern Europe: New Sights in Chinese Contemporary Art, Xin Dong Cheng Gallery, Beijing

Timezone: Creation and Exploration of Contemporary Young College Teachers, Art Museum of Nanjing University of the Arts, Nanjing

Relation: The Sixth Chengdu Biennale, Chengdu

Mind and Hand in Accord: Abstract Art 6, PIFO Gallery, Beijing

Occasion, re-C Art Space,Chengdu


Daily of Concept: A Practice of Life - The Fifth Shanghai Duolun Youth Art Exhibition, Duolun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai

SEE Green Future: 2012 the Dialogue, Alashan SEE Charity Auction, Beijing

Phase of Heart: Abstract Art Group Exhibition I, VA Gallery, Hong Kong

Shedding: New Art from China, Germany Berlin Koppenplatz 5, Berlin


Redefinition: Skepticism of Post-70s’ Art, Today Art Museum, Beijing

Representation of Realistic Art: Exhibition of Painting - Chengdu Biennale 2011, Modern Art Gallery of Chengdu, Chengdu

From Scenery to Scenery of Culture: Post-70s Artists Research: Jianghan Stars Plan, Wuhan Art Museum, Wuhan

Tour Exhibition City Gusto: The 4th Anniversary of Hot Spot, Today Art Museum,Beijing

Aspects of the Other: Italy in the Eyes of Chinese Artists, Rome/Beijing


New Face 1: Group Exhibition of Chinese Contemporary Art, Chintsao Space, Beijing

Image Experiences: Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary Art 2010, Jiangshan Art Museum, Chongqing

Youth at Upstairs: Nomination Exhibition of Young Critics 2010, Time Art Museum,Beijing

What is Art?, Time Art Museum, Beijing

Reshaping History: China art from 2000 to 2009, China National Convention Center, Beijing

The Fifth A+A, PIFO Gallery,Beijing

Thirty Years of Chinese Contemporary Art: 1979-2009, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai


Opening Vision: China Contemporary Art Exhibition, The Czech National Gallery, Prague

Energy of Time, CHANG ART, Beijing


People-History: Research Exhibition of Chinese Art of the 20th Century, Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing

Future Sky: Contemporary Chinese Young Artists Nominated Exhibition, Today Art Museum,Beijing

Invisible Youth: Young Artists Exhibition of China, WATERGATE Gallery, Seoul

The Third A+A, PIFO Gallery, Beijing / Duolun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai


The Cause: Painting Exhibition of Eight Artists, Mianyang

Substantial Man, Southwest, Texas

Jin: Contemporary Art Exhibition, Capital Normal University of Fine Arts, Beijing

The Second A+A, Art Lab, Gallery of Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing / Sichuan University Art Museum, Chengdu / Chongqing Art Museum, Chongqing


Comfortable Way, PIFO Gallery, Beijing

Greater than Beijing, Today Art Museum, Beijing

Transgression, PIFO Gallery, Beijing


The Cause: Painting Exhibition of Eight Artists, Mianyang


Shanghai Spring Art Salon, Shanghai



Public Collections


The Long Museum, Shanghai

Shanghai 21st Century Minsheng Museum, Shanghai

Wuhan Art Museum, Wuhan


Italian National Agency for Tourism, Rome

Exhibition Duration 
15 July - 1 September 2020, 10:00-18:00
( Closed on Mondays)

B-11, 798 Art Zone

About the Gallery
PIFO Gallery concentrates on the participation of the course of Chinese contemporary art and the exploration of post-war European master artists and seeking for all possibilities of art power in the dialogue and collision between the two aspects. As a major gallery in China specialized in the study and promotion of abstract art, and also the main institution to continuously explore the various possibilities of figurative art at present, PIFO is convinced that the experience of art emerges from the new world created by one revolution after another; The artist's work is the third eye to explore the world. For collectors, PIFO provides expertise and encourages them to explore their own unique perspective because only the combination of the two can make a great collection. We hope to see a growing number of collectors to take on the roles of a connoisseur, with a more in-depth understanding of Asian and Western contemporary art, and appreciate the artists discovered, reshaped and firmly believed in by the gallery.

Press enquiries/images
Junfang Shao shaojunfang@pifo.cn
T: +86 10 59789562
All other enquiries
Sophia Wang sophia.wang@pifo.cn
M: +86 18210011135

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