Alla inlägg den 16 oktober 2009

Av Lars Vilks - 16 oktober 2009 15:18


Born in Shanghai in 1955, Chen Zhen grew up during the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution, which ended in the late 1970’s. With this transition, Chen became interested in combining traditional Chinese philosophy (forbidden under Maoist rule) and Western practices as an alternative to the government’s official cultural ideology. After immigrating to Paris in 1986 to attend the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and the Institut des Hautes Études en Arts Plastiques, he abandoned his early work in painting in favor of mixed media installation. 

A central theme in Chen’s work is creating harmony through difference. Using the human body, illness, and medicine as metaphors, Chen explores the intricate, and often paradoxical, relationship between the material and the spiritual, community and individual, and interior and exterior. Using his concept of the organic whole, derived from Chinese medical theory, Chen constructs complete entities from disparate components, referencing the human body or an architectural model.

Chen's intellectual and artistic approach breathes great poetic and conceptual power and a fundamentally individual, independent attitude - every work being a reflection of his

biography, a site of analogy where the individual, social, cultural and material bodies are fused in one organic landscape. Experiencing the body as landscape calls for a special sensitivity for processes, forms, and materials. Accordingly, the exhibition follows neither a chronological nor thematic order but, in the first place, seeks a dialogue with its spatial environment. Informed by the transitory character of the works exhibited, the interplay of closeness and distance starts a dialogue which subtly expands and modifies the metaphorical statements made by the individual pieces.

Chen Zhen died of leukemia in December 2000: the understanding of his disease as an ineluctable part of his being influenced all his considerations as an artist. His perhaps most important -project- was his ambition to heal himself: -becoming a doctor- is to be understood both literally and as part of his artistic intentions. All his approaches, whether his specific handling of objects, his attitude towards migration and exile, and his far-reaching visions of intercultural dialogue, clearly document the unspeakable that translated spirituality and healing power into the materiality of sculptures.

Work in the biennial is a new and simplified version of  Jue Chang - Fifty Strokes to Each (1998).

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