Chen Zhen brings
together memories from his childhood with symbols of contemporary culture
to express the complexities and nuances that characterize our present-day
global experience. Walking to school as a child in Shanghai, Chen Zhen
would see women engaged in the daily ritual of washing chamber pots in the
street. At school he would hear the obligatory daily reading from Mao
Zedongís "Little Red Book" of communist doctrine intended to
"cleanse the soul." These two memories translate in his
sculpture as 101 chamber pots suspended from a wooden structure
reminiscent of a Chinese Bronze-age musical instrument. Located in the
center is a jumbled "globe" of modern machines, worn out and
obsolete. The superimposed sounds of water and political indoctrination
emanating from the installation communicate a meditative mood. Dualities
are recurrent in Chen Zhenís work: he reflects on the gaps between East
and West, between traditional and contemporary culture, between the
politics of communism and capitalism in Asia, and between his actual
childhood and its memory.
Chen Zhen, Daily Incantations, 1996
Chen Zhen, Daily Incantations, 1996 (installation view detail)
Chen Zhen responds to questions in the Artists of the Week section in this site.
During the last decade, Chen Zhen has presented his work at venues throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America, including international exhibitions such as First Shanghai Biennial, Shanghai Art Museum (1996); Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, 97 Kwangju Biennale: Unmapping the Earth, and Trade Routes: History and Geography. 2nd Johannesburg Biennale (1997); 1998 Taipei Biennal: Site of Desire, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, and Global Vision: New Art from the ’90s, Deste Foundation, Athens (1998); and Cities on the Move, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, 48th Venice Biennale, and 3rd Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (1999). Solo exhibitions of Chen Zhen's work have been presented at New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1994); Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal and Deitch Projects, New York (1996); National Maritime Museum, Stockholm, and Tel Aviv Museum of Art (1998); and ADDC-Espace Culturel François Mitterrand, Périgueux (1999).
1978 Shanghai Drama Institute, Shanghai
1986 École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris
1989 Institut des Hautes Études en Arts Plastiques, Paris
Deste Foundation, Athens, Greece. Global Vision: New Art from the ’90s, Part II (1998). Exhibition brochure, text by Katerina Gregos.
Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel. Chen Zhen: Jue Chang/Fifty Strokes to Each (1998). Exhibition catalogue, texts by Nehama Guralnik, Mordechai Omer; correspondence between Nehama Guralnik and Chen Zhen.
Pujo, Aline. Chen Zhen: Les Pas Silencieux/Silent Paces, 5 Projets aux États-Unis 1994-1997. Paris: L’Association Française d’Action Artistique, Ministère des Affaires Étrangères, 1997. Published on the occasion of Chen Zhen’s installation in Artists Projects, the re-opening show at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York, 1998.
Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal. Chen Zhen (1996). Exhibition catalogue, texts by Claude Gosselin and Hou Hanru.