Aili Jia, new star of Chinese art


Major collectors of Contemporary art who follow the Gagosian closely will undoubtedly be familiar with the work of Aili Jia, who, this year, was among the 200 most successful artists on the global auction market (all creative periods combined). We take a look back over the extraordinary rise of this 45-year-old artist who was born in Liaoning Province in China and who now sells and works in New York.

AILI Jia was born in the city of Dandong in 1979, the year China’s one-child policy was introduced. Dandong is located in Northeast Asia, on the banks of the Yalu River, and on the main land route connecting mainland China, Europe and Asia. The area connects northeast China to the Korean Peninsula and to ports on Japan’s sea lanes. Due to its key geographic location, the city of Dandong suffered several major bombing campaigns during the Sino-Japanese War of 1894 and the Korean War, before experiencing a post-war economic renaissance. Aili therefore witnessed the radical transformation of his country during his childhood and adolescence.

In 2004, Aili Jia graduated from the Second Studio (New Representationalism) of the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts in the Shenyang Tiexi district where he subsequently taught from 2005 to 2007. After sharing his knowledge as a teacher, he moved to Black Bridge Village in Beijing where his solo exhibition The Wasteland propelled him into the limelight. He quickly gained notoriety in China. More than ten years later, after setting up a studio in New York, he had his first exhibition in New York at the prestigious Gagosian gallery (2019). This first exhibition, bringing together a decade of Aili’s work, marked the beginning of a strong collaboration with the Gagosian, which officially represents the artist on the global stage.

Aili Jia: annual turnover at auction (copyright

With outlets in New York, London and Paris, along with galleries in Geneva, Basel, Gstaad, Rome, Athens and Hong Kong, Larry Gagosian’s network has substantial art market clout. The gallerist has described Aili Jia as a “pioneer of a new generation of Chinese artists”, a new generation that essentially dates from the early 1990s and includes artists raised in the post-Mao Zedong era who carefully avoided the overtly political themes adopted by previous generations, preferring to merge Eastern creative sources with global contemporary issues.

Thanks to his artistic education, Aili has a solid knowledge of the Chinese old masters and particularly of their techniques. He also became familiar with the techniques underlying Socialist Realism, but also Western art practices such as Naturalism, Figuration and Abstraction. His ability to navigate within the history of painting and its various cultural sources allows him to create astonishing symbioses between contemporary atmospheres and traditional figurative styles.

Today, Aili’s virtuoso style has forged a solid place in the international Contemporary art world by subverting classical references and expectations in relation to what we already know, and by merging a broad spectrum of influences. His work has been described as “existential” in that it succeeds in expressing simultaneously profound subjective emotions with more objective observations about contemporary society. In other words, Aili’s works manage to project a highly personal inner state while questioning the human condition, not only in China, but everywhere on the planet.


It has been a long time since art critics have been so enthusiastic about a Contemporary Chinese artist. Three months ago, this positive reception contributed to a spectacular new record of $4.77 million at Christie’s in New York that pushed his annual auction turnover to beyond the nine million dollars threshold for 2023 (of which 44% hammered in the USA). Aili Jia is now clearly a highly sought-after artist in the upper echelons of the art market, and, as we mentioned above, AILI Jia was among the world’s 200 top-selling artists in 2023.

Aili Jia: record at auction  (copyright

Top 3 auction results for works by Jia Aili

Combustion (2016): $4.77 million

07/11/2023, Christie’s, New York

February story(2006): $3 million

16/10/2020, Poly International, Beijing

Purple Crazy Scene (2009): $2.5 million

03/12/2021, Beijing Yongle, Beijing