Chen Wen Ling (b.1969 in Quanzhou, Fujian Province, China) from Anxi, China is recognized as one of the top ten contemporary sculptors in the international art industry today, exhibiting in a number of prestigious exhibitions such as Art Basel in Switzerland and the Shanghai Biennale. Chen Wen Ling graduated from Xiamen Academy of Art where he studied in the sculpture department and followed by Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. Currently he works and lives in Beijing as a professional artist.Read more
Started from 1991, his exhibitions were held in local China and overseas, including: First China Art Triennial at Guangzhou Art Museum, China (2002), Chinese Sculpture Masterpieces Exhibition of the Beijing International Biennale at Beijing, China (2003), China-Belgium Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition at Antwerpen, Belgium (2004), Grounding Reality: Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition at Seoul, Korea (2005), "37th Art Exposition in Basel of Switzerland, Switzerland (2006) and Chen Wenling's Sculpture solo exhibition at Duolun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, China(2006) etc.
In 1999, Chen Wen Ling received the Venice Biennial International Prize of the Golden Lion in Italy and not long after, he received the Alpert Award in the Arts in the United States. In 2005, he received the award for best installation in the Museum for Inopportune in France. After his impressive display of the Red Memory series in both Cottesloe and Bondi Beach in Australia, Chen Wen Ling was recently invited to return to exhibit in Denmark in 2013 following his extensively well-received 2011 exhibition.
Chen Wen Ling's sculptural works encompass many meanings and revolves around the manifestations of extreme humanity and immaterial images in a consumption society. Many of his works are metaphors of the messages he conveys about his view on society.
Over the years, he started to shift his focus towards issues pertaining to the adult world. He plays with metaphors, symbolism and various techniques to sculpt a profound piece which is never too hard for the audience to interpret. His works are modest and earthy and there is often a clear connection between man-and-nature dialogue depicted in his sculptures. One of his well-known pieces "What You See Might Not Be Real" depicted his point of view on the global financial crisis and the workings of Wall Street. We can notably see the dramatic and moving sculptures, captured in action whenever we come across Chen Wen Ling's works. Chen Wen Ling never fails to bring a whimsical and playful tone to sculpture, while at the same time, maintaining his stance as a sophisticated artist with his unique figurative style.
Red Memory Series
The use of bright red colour in presenting the boys depicts not only the symbolic and auspicious colour considered by Chinese traditions but is also testament to the artist's fiery attitude towards life.The Red Boys, naked and free, have nothing to hide. Simple and true - a direct communication with nature and a conversation between society and people is what Chen Wen Ling's works communicate to audiences. The cheeky expressions and arresting poses are a celebratory call to the audiences, causing them to embrace their inner child.
In this series of work, Chen Wen Ling changed the direction of his artistic concept. He gave full scope to his imagination and borrowed methods of appropriation, assemblage and translation from post-modern concepts. That is, blending and transforming the natural, traditional and modern images to create surrealistic and fantastic scenes of mountains and stone. The natural forms are shaped to render ambiguous things subjectively, like melting iceberg, or gigantic deer, also seems like traditional pavilion. The bottom of the sculpture looks like melting ice, while the top of the pavilion consists of beautifully carved drops.This twisted, fragmented and unrealistic phantasm create a vivid and pure world with a sense of realistic alienation.
Happy Life Series
The juxtaposition of "personification"and "hypostatization" is a method acquired by Chen in his exploration of art. He adopts this method non-stop in his series of works so that it multiplies and gains more value, forming a developing momentum propelled by a self-sufficient driving power within.
What You See is Real
A shift from his known images of depiction, this series is jarring and powerful, using shocking imagery and intelligent lingual implications to bring about powerful and social connotations. Reflective of much of what is wrong with the world today and reflecting on recent political trends, the series ultimately comes back to human nature, using metaphors to throw light on what are essentially human flaws that often lie behind the concepts of unhappiness and deceit of modern living.
2005 International Association of Art Critics United States Section, Best
2005 Monograph Show and Best Installation in a Museum for Inopportune, France
2001 CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts, United States of America
1999 The Venice Biennial International Prize-Golden Lion, Italy
1997 Oribe Awards,Gifu, Japan
1995 Benesse Prize of Transculture Exhibition, 46th Venice Biennale, Italy
Article: Red Memory
Peng De, ART&DESIGN,Volume118, 2003.
Peng De is a recognized Chinese Art Critic and also a Professor at Xi An Academy of Art
Red is the colour in fashion - from the Red Devil Cheer Team in South Korea to the usual red uniforms of the European football teams and the various symbols in China. Throughout Chinese history, red has been a symbolic and auspicious colour. Chen wants to express the tension of money, power, anxiety, fear and cruelty in the adult world. In this Red Boys series, he expresses the dreams, remembrance and nostalgia of our innocent childhood and questions the culture of adults.
The Red Boys are innocent and pure, healthy and full of vitality. It is well known that the visual arts of the late twentieth century, whether in art, cinema or three-dimensional cartoon pictures of computer games are full of violence, self doubt and pity. Chen's Red Boys resemble lotuses growing out of the mud, satisfying the craving for a new trend of avant garde art - where exploration of our human nature provides hope rather than to act as a weapon of criticism. His works attract locals,international audiences, academics and avant-garde critic alike to appreciate them from their own perspectives.
Chen's series of the Red Boys, entitled Red Memory, has various meanings and nuances for modern art viewers. They may be reminded of a newborn baby which symbolizes the innocence of human heart in classical culture, without any feelings of ordinariness. They may relate to the works of the Red Boy in one of the great Chinese novels: 'The Journey to the West (Xi You Ji), but without the feeling of an evil spirit looming over them.
They may be reminded of the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution, without a feeling of cruelty. They may be reminded of war fires of the past in strategically important China, without any feelings of fear. Those who know Chen may link the Red Boys to a harrowing experience - in 1996, there was an astonishing report on the newspaper of Xiamen daily, entitled "Rare and Courageous Self Defense". It was reported that a couple was robbed at the beach. The man courageously defended himself and the woman and was stabbed dozens of times in the process. Two main arteries of his wrists were cut open. His body was soaked with blood. It was the bloodiest case in local criminal history. The article described the heroic action of the young man who survived the attack in detail. He was no other than Mr Chen Wenling. Despite this, Chen shows no traces of hatred in his Red Memory series.
Modern art emphasizes the concept of a piece and often creates a style of too many concepts at play. In contrast, Chen's works are simple and true. He does not deliberately create concepts. The naked bodies have nothing to hide. What is left is a direct communication with nature and a conversation between society and the people. The facial expressions and gestures of the Red Boys are properly exaggerated to enhance communicative effects. This series of works provides respite from the notion of there being too many concepts.
"China: Facing Reality", National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
"Beijing-Athens Contemporary Art From China", Technopolis of the City of Athens, Greece
"Metamorphose" Chen Wen Ling Exhibition, Makii Masaru Fine Arts, Japan
"My Chinese Friends", Gallery Susanne Ottesen, Copenhagen, Denmark
"The Power of Universt" 798 Asian Art Center, Beijing, China
"Floating: New Generation of Art in China", The National Art Museum of Korea, Seoul, Korea
"Red Memory" Chen Wen Ling's Solo Exhibition, Ode to Art, Singapore
"Made in China", Padova, Italy
"In theName of Material" Exhibition of Contemporary Art of Sculpture, HSS Art Centre Shanghai, China
37th Art Exposition in Basel of Switzerland, Basel, Switzerland
"Hyperdesign" Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China
"Chinese Art Today", National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
"Ground Reality" Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, Seoul, Korea
"Time of Sea" International Contemprary Art Exhibition, Shanghai, China
Solo Exhibition: "Happy Life", Chinese European Art Centre, Xiamen, China
Chinese Sculpture Masterpieces Exhibition of Beijing International Biennale Beijing,China
21st China Art Triennial, Guangzhou Art Museum, Guangdong, China
Sculpture Show, Shanghai Young Artists Exhibition, Normal University of Shanghai, China
Chen Wen Ling's Woodcarving Exhibition Xiamen College of Art, Xiamen, China