The art of Kaidusa: The world through the eyes of a Chinese-Belgian queer artist

Written by:

Yen Feng

Yen Feng

Yen is the editor of asia.gay. You can reach him at editor@asia.gay.

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Kaidusa, or Kai for short, is a 31-year-old Hong Kong-based illustrator and watercolour painter, born in Geel, Belgium, to a Belgian father and a Chinese mother.

Though he was born in Belgium, the artist, whose real name is Tim Jules, grew up mostly in Shanghai, Taiwan, Abu Dhabi, and Egypt, before finishing his high school in Los Angeles in the United States.

During high school, Kai took up an interest in expressing himself through poetry and art class. Art originally started as a safe haven, a space to explore and express his inner world, and also a physically safe place from the bullying that is often so prevalent in schools.

It wasn’t until he started at Santa Monica Community College, that he really started taking a keen interest in art as a future career goal. Taking on many art classes, Kai eventually transferred to Paris College of Art, formerly Parson’s Paris for three more years of studying, in Paris, France, before graduating with a Bachelor’s of Illustration degree.

He then moved to Strasbourg, France for a year before finally deciding to spend three years traveling around Asia while using Hong Kong as a sort of home base between travels. During his three years in Asia, he strayed a bit from illustration and decided to take watercolor painting more seriously, landing his first solo show in the summer of 2019 as well as participating in a couple of group shows as well.

Here is a selection of his art and some of his inspiration behind his works. Enjoy!

Paradise in hell. 2019
Watercolor on cold press paper

Paradise in hell speaks to the temptations of the world. How especially in difficult times people can seek comfort in things that are perhaps are not great for them, such as drinking, smoking, drugs, overeating, etc.

But this isn’t just hopelessness either. The symbolism of the flamingos also comes from the fact that flamingos often live and thrive on inhospitable toxic saline lakes. There is life that flourishes from harsh experiences.

The 2AM Crew. 2020
Digital illustration

This piece is a tamer example of some of my digital work that often goes into glaring details of the nocturnal activities of gay night life. My digital work is often a social reflection or commentary of the experiences that are either personal, or that I hear about through friends or peripheral social network.

I like to draw and shine a comedic light on the experience of being gay because I feel so often there has in recent times been this reaching for a more heteronormative model of gay relationships, which of course is great for those who want to go down that path. But I also don’t want it to come at the expense of forgetting or looking down on perhaps the more hyper sexual or subculture aspects of the gay community.

This particular piece perhaps doesn’t really illustrate what I just said, but it’s more of a preview of my other more explicit works.

The Way Out. 2020
Watercolor on cold press paper

This watercolor painting was done as a means of therapy in the sense that the repetitive layers needed to achieve the density of foliage created a kind of repetitive action that took my mind out of anxiety. Also, it served as a means of expressing the sense of anxiety and discomfort the circumstances of this year have brought on. There’s a figure that appears to be lost and possibly given up, but the view can see beyond at the light, perhaps a way out. The road is paved with carnivorous plants. There’s a sense of peace or stress, depending on the way the viewer looks at it. Is the figure resting, or has he actually given up?

Social Distancing. 2020
Digital illustration

2020 has been a collectively difficult year for everyone. And it has affected people in a multitude of ways. Social Distancing is honing in on this idea of social isolation and how that has only highlighted and perhaps exasperated issues of mental health.

In the work, the figure is seen clasping his head in a somber mood. He is surrounded by life, yet none of it seems to bring him joy, and the light of the day is rapidly fading. It is often very characteristic of my work to look into darker aspects of emotions and emotional wellbeing, but colouring it in what some would deem happier, brighter colors.

I took inspiration for this by watching a lot of nature documentaries about venomous and poisonous animals and noticed that they are most often brightly coloured. When I first started painting when I was 16, I would often use black, white and red to display images of sadness, but after being influenced by those nature documentaries, the colour palette really opened up to me. 

Insatiable. 2020
Watercolor on cold press paper

Insatiable is both a celebration of colour and desire, in the sense that I was inspired by oarfish and the craze of the house plant Pink Princess. The oarfish is a mysterious sea serpent of sorts and I took the liberty of making it more fantastically coloured. The Pink Princess Philodendron is a house plant that for a time and possibly is still a very popularly sought after house plant with eye-watering prices.

This piece is about a desire for that which is mysterious as well as that which is popular, and how one’s appetite for both can never seem to be satisfied.

Check out more of Kai’s artwork on Instagram @kaidusa and @kaidusacomics.

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