This exhibition features eight of the artist’s recent acrylic on canvas works, including grey (or single-color) and complex color works. Grey-colored works build upon and transcend his early water-ink paintings, experimenting physically and spiritually with the notion of “colored ink”. The complex color, meanwhile, can be understood as an elaboration of “grey”, as it refers to deconstructed elementary shades of “grey”, used individually. Four of the artist’s ink on watercolor paper works will also be show, which can be viewed as an archetype of his artistic method.
Shen Chen recapitulates the meditative and deliberative brushwork associated with traditional Chinese ink brush painting. His vernacular, however, is contemporary. His fully abstract paintings are a study in brushstroke, color, and tonality, and reference the aesthetic of minimalism. To create his subtle umber surfaces, Shen paints with a wide variety of traditional Chinese brushes. Working with the canvas on the studio floor, he layers the surface by moving progressively top down, in a vertical motion. The discrete horizontal lines visible on the surface are a record of where each vertical brushstroke began and stopped. It is this meticulous layering of color that achieves the resonant tonal hues of his paintings, and which also manifests his rigorous discipline in how it supported by breath.
To the artists, “overlaying of strokes is an action of negating...the more the number of strokes is laid, the further the negation is made. Such dissolution is a long process that involves time and order, stretching from the beginning to the end. Layers of stroke and paint eventually realize the space and a psychological third dimension. Through the very intimate process of stroke laying the artist thereby enters a void and dismisses all thinking activities. Such reflection of the inner spirit is a poem of stream of consciousness. The strokes as artworks are but the remainder of the process and the trace of time and spirit. The canvas exemplifies nothingness and emptiness, like a magnetic field of soul releasing the impact of emptiness.”
With Shen Chen, the perspective of the brush returns to the artist as a metaphysical conduit of energy. What happens on the surface of the painting is only as enlightened as what happens stroke by stoke over time. The complexity by which Shen determines the linear or spatial direction of the brushwork in his paintings cannot be forecast in advance; therefore, the finished painting is always a surprise, a visual experience beyond the obvious, a global, yet intimate advance in the current history of abstraction.
About the artist
Born in China in 1955, Shen Chen is a New York based artist. He began his art education in high school and continued his training at Shanghai Art College. He moved to Beijing after earning his BFA from the Shanghai Academy of Theater in 1982. In 1988, he came to the United States on a fellowship as artist in residence and continued his studies at Boston University on an MFA scholarship the following year. He has lived in New York since 1991.
In the 1980s, Shen Chen was one of China’s pioneers of Chinese abstract painting and experimental ink painting. He was an active member of “Art Salon” (an underground art movement). In 1978, he organized an experimental exhibition “Wild Rose” while he was still in college. Sinec then, His works have been exhibited at various art museums, including National Art Museum of China, Roma Academy of Fine Arts, Today Art Museum, Queens Museum of Art, Bochum Museum, Shanghai University Museum, Hexiangning Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Chinese in America, Epoch Art Museum, Yuan Art Museum,Himalaya Museum of Art, Singer Museum of Art, Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, Museum Hurrle Durbach and ME Collection Berlin. His works are in many public and private collections including ME Collection Berlin (Germany), Aszo Nobel Art Foundation (Netherland), Duke Energy Corporation (USA), Johnson & Johnson Foundation (USA), Today Art Museum (China), Stibbe Collection, (Netherlands), Shanghai University (China), San Shang Museum of Contemporary Art (China), etc.