Wu Chen

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Wu Chen (b.1983, Henan) currently lives and works in Beijing and Chengdu. His paintings evoke a miscellaneous array of ‘artist portraits’ and layered references culled from sources as varied as picture handbooks to exquisite illustrations from art history. Layer by layer they undergo a child-like process of distortion and reassembly, causing one to wonder at the morbidity of such a whimsical sense of imagination.

Major solo exhibitions include: The Serious Wu and the Mischievous Chen, Magician Space, Beijing (2024); March 32nd, Qiao Space, Shanghai(2023); Therefore, the Lonely God Can Only be the Orphan of God, Magician Space, Beijing (2020); Positions Sector, Art Basel Miami, Miami, USA (2019); Bad Man Can Also End Up in Heaven, Magician Space, Beijing (2017); Matisse’s Skirt, Magician Space, Beijing (2014).

Major group exhibitions include: Zoo | Amusement Park, Cloud Art Museum, Shenzhen (2023); Nián Nián: The Power and Agency of Animal Forms, Deji Art Museum, Nanjing, CN (2023) ; BOOMERANGOCAT Biennale 2021, OCAT Shenzhen, Shenzhen (2021); 2020 – SONG ART INVITATION EXHIBITION, Song Art Museum, Beijing (2020); TRAVERSE·COURSE – 2016 HUAYU YOUTH AWARD, Art Sanya, Sanya (2016); The First Dao Jiao New Art Festival, XI Contemporary Art Center, Guangdong (2016); The 6th Chengdu Biennale, Chengdu International Conference and Exhibition Centre, Chengdu (2013); Carousel, Times Art Museum, Beijing (2011); The 3rd Terna Contemporary Art Award, Rome (2010); Creative M50 Exhibition, M50 Creative District, Shanghai (2009); ‘Jiong’ – Expressions and Attitudes, the 3rd Shanghai Duolun Youth Art Exhibition, Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai (2008); “Youth China” Contemporary Art Exhibition, Art Museum of University Heidelberg, Heidelberg (2008).

“The Serious Wu and the Mischievous Chen”, exhibition view

Left: Dangerous Liaison, 2023, acrylic on canvas, oil pastels, crackle paste, 200 x 150 cm
Right: Sunrise or Sunset, 2023, acrylic on canvas, markers, oil pastels, 200 x 150 cm

Three Conflicting Emotions, 2023, acrylic on canvas, crackle paste, oil pastels, 200 x 220 cm

A Spell, Dream Hair Salon, 2023, acrylic on canvas, crackle paste, oil pastels, 300 x 200 cm

“March 32nd”, exhibition view

“March 32nd”, exhibition view

Therefore, the Lonely God Can Only be the Orphan of God, installation view

Stop Sketching Autumn When Summer Comes, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 150 cm

Bad Man Can Also End Up In Heaven, exhibition view

Yang Zi | Wu Chen: Three Conflicting Force

In the 2023 painting, Wu Chen accomplished his task brilliantly: while arousing and depicting the power of the spirit, he also endowed it with a broken order, rendering the picture logically solid and credible. As mentioned above, he tried his best to limit the process of creative transformation within the framework of self-growth, summoning his current self to start a battle with his past self. He slyly avoids the homogeneous issue that paintings on canvas in today’s China address: how to deal with the grafting of various cultural heritage contexts. Occasionally, he would take one or two threads from these connections, tell a story, and vigilantly maintain his independence and initiative.

Shangdi’s Orphan

In the past, the circus would choreograph dangerous and exciting acrobatic stunts to attract an audience, with programs performed by trapeze artists. Once the performers took a desperate risk, they would inevitably make mistakes. If they missed, they would fall from a height of more than ten meters. With a screaming audience, they would land in the middle of the ring and become motionless. The theatre would then fall silent, and all the adults could do is covering their children’s eyes. This is when the theatre director would yell backstage, ‘Clowns up!’ Clowns run onto the stage, twisting and turning, gagging and laughing, just so someone would carry the injured performer off, so the show can go on as if nothing had happened. The classic jazz song Send in the Clowns echoes the inner monologue of the fallen performer, ‘Isn’t it rich, are we a pair, me here at last on the ground, and you in mid-air. Send in the clowns.’ On the tableaus, Wu Chen seems to be the clowns.