Shen Chen - Abstract Ink Paintings in the 1980sNov 03 - Dec 22, 2018
Curator: Zhu Qi
Opening: 5-7pm, November 3rd, 2018 (Saturday)
Gallery Talk: 4-5pm, November 3rd, 2018 (Saturday)
Exhibition Period: November 3rd - December 22nd, 2018
Gingko Space is delighted to present Shen Chen’s solo exhibition “Shen Chen - Abstract Ink Paintings in the 1980s”, opening on November 3rd, 2018. It is the second time that Ginkgo Space holds the artist’s exhibition. More than ten ink paintings and collages that were made in the 1980s will be presented.
In 1982, Shen Chen began to explore abstraction with the medium of ink painting - he created a form of abstraction with calligraphic brushstrokes on rice paper. In addition, he mixed gouache pigments with ink and water. In the following year, he gradually established his style for experimental ink painting, forming a more definite minimal and abstract expression. Such minimalism, which has its resemblance in calligraphy, leaving only horizontal and vertical brushstrokes, spiraling semi-circles and large blank area on paper. These traces were scattered sparsely on the rice paper, shifting the “void” and the “calligraphic element” in Chinese paintings towards a modernist style.
From the late 70s to the early 80s, the process of modernization that was temporarily paused was restored. From the emerging modernism in painting in the 20s and 30s, to the artist Wu Dayu’s works in the 70s, such exploration was gradually defined as Oriental modernism. Being at the center of modernist enlightenment - the Shanghai Theatre Academy, and invigorated by the atmosphere of such restoration, Shen Chen and other artists from the new generation attempted to push this progress forward - towards a kind of abstraction that is more throughout. The artists who adopted the medium of oil painting for abstraction were gradually shaping into a group, while Shen Chen remained the only artist heading down the path of abstract ink painting.
For Shen Chen, the key in practicing abstraction through experimental ink painting was to first extract the brushwork from calligraphic gestures and to transform them into elements that do not embody any significance, while the brushworks reconstitute a combination of lines, and become the composing element for abstraction. Furthermore, Shen Chen turns the blank area in traditional Chinese painting into an element in structural aesthetics. The blank area in his works, unlike in traditional ink paintings, did not form a concrete-imaginary relationship with natural elements, but is the result of the linear structures defining or dividing space. The calligraphic brushstrokes are the junction-lines connecting empty areas. From the perspective of Formalism, Shen Chen redefined the empty spaces on the two-dimensional surface. (The article Shen Chen: Ink Modernism during 1980’s is written by the critic and curator Zhu Qi.)
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 (previously known as the Shanghai “5.7” Art School). He moved to Beijing after earning his BFA from the Shanghai Theater Academy in 1982. In 1988, he went to the United States on a fellowship as artist in residence at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Later that year, he moved to New York upon receiving an exchange student fellowship from the Studio School of Painting and Sculpture. He 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. Since then, he has shown his works at various art museums, including the Shanghai Art Museum and Ningbo Museum of Art. He held his first solo show in 1984 at the China Journalist Society in Beijing, collaborating with galleries in Asia, Europe and America, and has continued showing his work in China and abroad at venues including the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC), Roma Academy of Fine Arts, Today Art Museum, Nantong Museum of Art, San Shang Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai University Museum, Queens Museum of Art, Zhendai Museum of Modern Art, Hexiangning Museum of Contemporary Art, Xi Hu Art Museum, Doulun Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Chinese in America, Ming Yuan Museum of Art, Epoch Art Museum, Yuan Art Museum, Himalaya Museum of Art, Singer Museum of Art, Bochum Museum, Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, Museum Hurrle Durbachand and ME Collection Berlin…