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