Kailin Zhao, an award-winning Chinese painter living in the United States, has exhibited across Asia, North America, and Europe. Through traditional and contemporary realism techniques, his portraits capture the innocence of young women. Zhao invokes a dreamlike sense of longing, expectation, and desire in his pieces. He favours both acrylics and oils on canvas or wood.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I studied art during my childhood in elementary school between the late 1960s to early 1970s. My elementary school art teacher influenced me a lot and really impacted me.
My mom also supported my desire to study art, she has a very kind heart. I eventually made it to the Central Academy of Art in China.
Can you talk about your artistic influences and other artists you are most inspired by?
I am most influenced by the great masters, such as Rembrandt, John Sargent, etc. Early classicism and romantic oil paintings have a profound influence on me and on our contemporary realist artists.
Do you prefer to work alone or collaborate with others?
I personally work alone at my studio every day. In order to create my oil paintings, I need a silent atmosphere that calms me down and gives me space to think and tap into my creativity.
Can you tell us about a project you’re currently working on?
I am currently working on the medium-large piece that is a portrait of a sleeping girl. For these kinds of works, I have to pay great attention to my technique and skills because realism requires a lot of patience and detail. It is a kind of craftsmanship, usually, one large piece takes me two to three months to finish.
What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t an artist?
If one day I am not an artist, I hope that I will have a school to teach in.
Have you found any other artists on Singulart whose work you admire?
What advice could you give to young artists starting out?
I think that young artists should pay attention to the fundamentals when sharpening their skills. Practice, practice, and practice.
I think that young artists should also value their work, not selling their art too little. Cheap is not a good word, and it is also not a reason to sell art. Art is a combination of vision and spirit, it should not be cheap.