Although he has experimented with sculpture, large-scale installations, and etchings, Jia Aili utilizes his feelings of abandonment and loneliness in China to regularly render haunting, fantastic paintings. Inspired by romantics like Eugène Delacroix and Théodore Géricault, his works consider the power of nature as it compares to death, industrialization, and human experience. He confronts his generation’s melancholic and complicated relationship with the socio-economic developments in China, directing attention to technological progress and cultural toxicity with astronauts, gas masks, and bombs as regular symbolic motifs. Using both figurative and abstract elements, he discovers and reorganizes the visual information in the world around him into large-scale works that often use jagged, sharp lines to create ominous compositions. Aili implies that the triumph of humanity is not guaranteed, and that there are distinct “consequences of progress and the march of modernity.”
Jia has exhibited at Hartell Gallery, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, He Xianjning Art Museum, Shenzhen, Institute of International Visual Art, London, Platform China Contemporary Art Institute, Beijing, Saatchi Gallery, London, Minsheng Center for Contemporary Art, Shanghai, Shanghai Art Museum, China, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, and China National Museum, Beijing, among others. He participated in the 3rd Guangzhou Triennial in 2008.