Aaron Kai brings the light of the silver screen to life in fine art paintings that deliver a punch. Kai’s work shows a moment frozen in time, delivering his own brand of storytelling that continues long after the credits roll. It is not hard to see the effect the cinema has had on Kai when you see the kinetic drama, detailed workmanship and heart-rending emotion that simmer in his paintings.
Having grown up with a passion for movies, monsters, and art, Kai’s natural course was to draw the stories he so loved, starting when he first picked up a pencil at age three. He sold his first piece—a drawing of Godzilla—at age nine. At 11, Kai walked into a theater and saw a hand-painted poster of the Bruce Lee movie ENTER THE DRAGON. Instantly, Kai found his calling. He started freehand-drawing the Lee movie poster and other action film posters onto large sheets of cardboard referenced from small halftone-inked newspaper movie ads the size of a playing card. That started him on his journey in a quest to establish himself as an artist.
Kai’s own style of ‘hyperreelism’ blends stories from the big screen with explosive action, and keeps that action going on canvas—a virtually impossible feat in a medium like painting. Kai’s compositions live and breathe in the details he painstakingly renders. This immense talent has not been lost on Kai’s who’s who of celebrity collectors, including: actor/director Clint Eastwood (Dirty Harry, Million Dollar Baby), director Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Gladiator), actor Harrison Ford (Star Wars, Blade Runner/2049), actor Rutger Hauer (Batman Begins, Blade Runner), actor Sean Young (No Way Out, Blade Runner), actor Michael Rosenbaum (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Smallville), production executive Katherine Haber (Blade Runner, The Getaway), Makeup Effects Group, Inc. (The Matrix Trilogy, Mad Max Fury Road), actor/rapper RZA (Kill Bill, Wu-Tang Clan), and numerous others.
Having an eye for detail and an extensive knowledge of strategic camera shots and storytelling composition, Kai pushes past simply putting ‘characters on a page’ and creates deeply impactful fine art, capturing timeless expressions that make us feel and remember the films that so moved us. He works with acrylic or oil on illustration board or canvas, but also showcases his masterful pieces on leather jackets he calls: Kai Artwear.
With a B.A. degree in his holster, Kai became an illustrator for Ralph Lauren in the mid-1980s to 90s working closely with one of the foremost fashion designers of our time. Kai used this knowledge to hand-paint his original art onto high-quality leather jackets. Admirers of Kai’s one-of-a-kind garments are: director James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic), director Robert Rodriguez (The Mandalorian, Sin City), sfx master Stan Winston (The Terminator, Aliens), artist/designer H.R. Giger (Alien, Species), recording artist Sade and recording artists En Vogue. GQ Magazine hailed him as: “Aaron Kai, the da Vinci of leather-jacket art”.
In 1993, Kai became the New York Pinball Champion. Later, he created artwork for the Limited Edition Data East Michael Jordan Pinball Machine to benefit the Michael Jordan Foundation. He was a 1999 Airbrush Action Magazine Excellence Award Winner. For the sci-fi film BLADE RUNNER: THE FINAL CUT, his original artwork was used and featured with the 25TH ANNIVERSARY.
Kai’s art has been seen by millions on television as he appeared with his works on Saturday Night Live (NBC); CNN Headline News; NBC News (NBC-TV); Good Day NY (FOX-TV); New Yorkers (Japan) and In The Mix (PBS). He also received a “Special Thanks” in PLAYBILL for the Broadway NY Rock Opera, THE WHO’S TOMMY.
Currently, Kai works with sculptor Nick Marra (Nick Marra Studios: over 150 films including, most notably: Jurassic Park, The Walking Dead, Terminator 3, The Hateful Eight, Man of Steel), bringing Marra’s ideas to life as drawings that provide a solid reference art for the sculptor, and a collectible piece after the project.
Kai’s originals have been featured and held over in solo exhibitions at Arclight Cinemas (Hollywood & Sherman Oaks, CA), Hero Complex Gallery (Los Angeles), Motif Gallery (Palm Springs), Monster Museum (Burbank, CA), South Pasadena Mercantile Gallery (South Pasadena, CA), The Whole 9 Gallery (Culver City, CA), Sienna Visions Gallery (Plainfield, NJ), and Alexander Gallery (New York, NY).
The stunning realism of Kai’s visual stories make each painting a rare gem. Only true masters can make their craft look easy and flow naturally, when in reality they have spent countless hours rendering and perfecting the most difficult of subjects: the human face and figure. Aaron Kai has proven himself a master of hyperrealism and an artist beyond his time.