CHEN Wenji – ’21 Exhibition in Taipei

After a 5-year hiatus, Chinese artist CHEN Wenji returns for his second solo exhibition in Taiwan. ESLITE GALLERY proudly presents CHEN Wenji – ‘21 Exhibition in Taipei from October 16 to November 13. It features a total of 17 oil paintings from 2014 to the present, including Middle.Right and Opposite (oil on aluminum-plastic panel, 2014), and his So oil on canvas series and Wrapped – fluorescent yellow + cold gray and Time is (triptych). In his simple and concise geometric expression, CHEN not only interprets his long journey of self-discovery, but also wraps it under the flow of his personal sensibility.

  • Exhibition Period:16 October – 13 November 2021
  • Address:ESLITE GALLERY ∣ B1, No. 88, Yanchang Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City 110055, Taiwan

Born in Shanghai in 1954, CHEN graduated from the Printmaking Department at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in 1978. Later he held teaching positions in CAFA’s Printmaking Department (1978-1980), Folk Art Department (1980-1993), and Mural Painting Department (1993-2014) until he retired in 2014. He currently lives and works in Beijing and Yanjiao, Hebei. In 2016, he staged his first exhibition in Taiwan—Chen Wenji: Solo Exhibition in Taipei—at the Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, where his artistic creations from 2009 to 2016 were on display. And now, he focuses more on the construction of a series of formal vocabulary expressions in this solo exhibition, in which he showcases his powerful visual impact through his continuous purification and refinement of abstract visual vocabularies.

CHEN Wenji’s early works were done in a figuratively realistic representation, depicting still lifes or scenes of Beijing suburbs with a hint of lonely and melancholy tone. In the past 20 years, just after he turned 50, his understanding of life, living, social existence and art has undergone fundamental changes. As a result, he has consciously shifted to a more simple and concise form of expression in his works, while maintaining his passion for geometric shapes.

In this regard, CHEN explains: “Expression should not be dictated by a particular formula. It is not a process of conformity, but a process of understanding and feeling.” He believes that the function of art is not limited to the reproduction and reinterpretation of objects. What he wants to convey with his works is more about his personal wonderment about the world. As such, he doesn’t want his creations to be a mere relay of knowledge, but to give people an element of uncertainty or a hidden possibility—the source of reflection.

Taking a look at CHEN’s creative overtones, we see the abstract expressions are extracted from his personal knowledge and experience and guided by his thoughts on visual forms. In this process of self-purification, he produces abstract art with his distinctive image and unique style. It is for this reason that CHEN Wenji lacks an active engagement with the mainstream trend of Chinese contemporary art. He thinks that “Art is always marginal, or ‘gray’, in the social sphere”, and he describes himself as a “gray artist”. “Gray is delicate, sensitive and weak. It’s in a state of natural excess. It can be said that gray is more artistic, because it opens up a buffer zone between the clashes of society and human nature.”

The preparations for this solo exhibition coincided with the worldwide pandemic which has rattled people to their core. CHEN Wenji said that the pandemic definitely has had an impact on artists on some level, but there’s not too much of an interference. Rather, the pandemic has changed the way of interpersonal communication, allowing him to concentrate more on his work and reflection. After all, it’s better for artists to complete their read on the world in a sort of closed-off space for self-digestion and then muster enough courage to meet all the unknowns coming to them.

Born in Shanghai in 1954, CHEN graduated from the Printmaking Department at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in 1978. Later he held teaching positions in CAFA’s Printmaking Department (1978-1980), Folk Art Department (1980-1993), and Mural Painting Department (1993-2014) until he retired in 2014. He currently lives and works in Beijing and Yanjiao, Hebei. In 2016, he staged his first exhibition in Taiwan—Chen Wenji: Solo Exhibition in Taipei—at the Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, where his artistic creations from 2009 to 2016 were on display. And now, he focuses more on the construction of a series of formal vocabulary expressions in this solo exhibition, in which he showcases his powerful visual impact through his continuous purification and refinement of abstract visual vocabularies.

CHEN Wenji’s early works were done in a figuratively realistic representation, depicting still lifes or scenes of Beijing suburbs with a hint of lonely and melancholy tone. In the past 20 years, just after he turned 50, his understanding of life, living, social existence and art has undergone fundamental changes. As a result, he has consciously shifted to a more simple and concise form of expression in his works, while maintaining his passion for geometric shapes.