Cai Guo-qiang was admitted in Shanghai Theater Academy to study stage design in 1981. He mentioned in an interview that he asked his mom to advance the budget for his wedding and spent the money to travel to Western China on his own. He went to the desolate plateau and witness the golden deserts in Xinjiang where the local culture and people left a great impression on him. Fine arts in China in the early 80s, after fulfilling its "political functions" over decades, finally allowed artists to create of their own free will. The transformation of the ideology also encouraged a great change in the aesthetics - the doctrines of "red, bright, and shining" (Hong , Guang , Liang ) during the Culture Revolution were eventually abandoned. It was only until then when the artists started to portray the down-to earth life in a realistic tone. The following works Sea of Spring (Lot 154), Port (Lot 155), Two Doors (Lot 156), Portrait of Fiancée (Lot 157) and Girl from Ili (Lot 158) were all produced in this era out of "real life and true emotions" when oil paint and water colour were predominantly used in Cai's works. In Two Doors , the artist seeks to explore the play of light and shadow outside on the walls of the white houses. Bicycles were an expensive commodity in the 80s. The bike in the front right corner, seemingly a mundane scene, in fact embodies the artist's dream towards a better life. Port and Sea of Spring depict the tranquil life of people living next to the water, showing the artist's solicitude. By avoiding hard lights, Girl from Ili is a bold endeavour to capture the character and the beauty of the colours precisely, strengthening the tension in the painting. Cai applies fewer colours in Portrait of Fiancée which makes the viewers focus more on the serene and placid face of the character; using only a few strokes to outline her dress implies the vitality of the exceptional figure.