WALOPLE, N.H. >> Cynthia-Reeves at The Barn at 28 Main launches its fall exhibition program with a solo show of new works by Chinese painter, Shen Chen, the gallery's fifth solo exhibition of this artist's work.
In this exhibition, Shen Chen debuts new work from his ongoing series of acrylic paintings on canvas, as well as a return to his meticulous ink painting on paper — a discipline that was the beginning of his artistic career. The ink drawings showcase his signature minimalist brushwork and line painting, while hewing back to the origins of his discipline in calligraphy and ink brush drawing.
In his paintings, the artist's methodical layering of color achieves resonant tonal hues, and manifests a rigorous grounding in a meditation on breath. To create his subtle ombré surfaces, Chen works with the canvas on the studio floor. He layers the paint in precisely calibrated vertical brushstrokes; the discrete horizontal lines visible on the surface are a record of where each brushstroke — and attendant breath — begins.
Of this latest work — and Chen's studio practice in general — art critic Robert Morgan, who has studied Chen's work for a decade, writes in the artist's catalogue "In contrast to other important Chinese artists living or who have lived in New York, Chen functions solely as a painter. He is very clear about his position. He is committed to painting as a form that gives him the space and time to do what he wants and to express what he needs (without necessarily being expressive). For Shen Chen, there is no reason to take photographs or to make installations. He has no incentive to perform or participate in media-driven spectacles that, in recent years, have seduced so many artists. He is a painter, specifically an abstract painter, intent on working with the surface, using acrylic paint the way he was trained to use ink."
"Overlaying of strokes is an action of negating,"noted Shen Chen. "I cover paint with paint in order for a painting to dissolve the painting itself. Such dissolution is a long process that involves time and order, stretching from the beginning to the end. Through the very intimate process of 'stroke-laying,' the artist thereby enters a void and dismisses all thinking. 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."
Shen Chen, who was born in Shanghai, now lives full time in New York. He earned his BFA from the Shanghai Academy of Theater in 1982, and an MFA at Boston University in 1989. Since the 1980s, Chen was among China's burgeoning pioneers of abstract painting and experimental ink painting. His career spans several international museum exhibitions including: Shanghai Art Museum, Ningbo Museum of Art National Art Museum of China, Roma Academy of Fine Arts,Today Art Museum, Nantong Museum of Art, and the San Shang Museum of Contemporary Art.