Chen Zhen: The Body as a Landscape
Preface by Matt Gerald. Text by Ken Lum, Maité Vissault, Wang Min An.
Chen Zhen (1955-2000) was among the members of the Chinese avant-garde who chose exile over political repression. In 1986, he left home for Paris, where, after a few years of seclusion, he began to show pioneering work he called "open sculpture," which found swift international acclaim. Chen Zhen's pieces often presented utopias of multicultural dialogue, poetic landscapes full of unusual material alliances, hybrids and new connections between Eastern traditions and the Western artistic vocabulary. That fundamentally personal approach, in echoing his own spiritual seeking and cultural homelessness, radiates enormous power. Later the artist fused his chosen exile, his illness and traditional Chinese medicine, surveying and synergizing the relationships that define the social body. Works like "Lumière innocente," an incandescent cocoon of hospital tubing woven around the frame of an antique crib, and dated 2000, the year of his death, are both elegant and heart-wrenching. This selection of more than 30 drawings, photographic works, sculptures, and installations made between 1978 and 2000 tracks each major phase of the artist's work.