Chen Zhen was born in Shanghai in 1955 and died in Paris in 2000. The artist is regarded as one of the leading exponents of the Chinese avant-garde and an emblematic figure in the field of international contemporary art. This exhibition provides a rare opportunity for London audiences to see at first hand the work of this exceptional artist.
Combining an intense sensitivity to material and craft with the humanist rationality of a philosopher, Chen Zhen’s sculptural installations and constructions are at once physically grounded and mysteriously auratic. Through his own lived experience of the dichotomies of health and illness, and of cultural displacement and connectedness, the artist attained a heightened sensitivity towards the complex and fragile systems of human existence. After moving to Paris in 1986, he experienced constant changes in his cultural environment, which inspired him to incorporate the “experience of assimilation and transcendence” into his work to create an idiosyncratic style, combining traditional Chinese philosophy and Western practices.
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.
This exhibition presents a number of significant late sculptural pieces, including Lumière Innocente and Crystal Landscape of Inner Body as well the sound piece Instrument Musical and a number of wall-mounted Alters.
Chen Zhen – Frith Street Gallery – 9 July 2015 to 14 August 2015