September 5, 2009, Beijing – This autumn, UCCA will present Chen Wenbo’s solo exhibition, Broken Series, following the theme of his exhibition Pirate Copy, Legit Copy held in the 2006 Shanghai Biennale. The artist will cover the walls of the UCCA in red paint, setting the backdrop for oil paintings under the theme Broken Series. The newly created series will consist of paintings on the walls, as well as installations carefully placed on the ground. The creative form, theme and object of the works – along with the artists’ breakthrough visual perception is indispensable when interpreting Chen’s philosophic thinking towards social reality. The exhibition will be on display until October 30, 2009.
Chen Wenbo began his urban narrations when he settled in Beijing circa 2000. From the objectified portraits of his earlier works, to the ‘manufactured’ urban landscape, to the metaphoric objects, he is constantly focusing on the artificial products that symbolize one thing or another. The subjects and the signified seem to ‘respond’ to the emotional imagery of our times. The fast-changing and out-of-focus landscape is an echo of our sober and illusional train of thoughts.
“Chen Wenbo’s newly created series of works for the UCCA vividly depicts the break between our current economic crisis, and the increasing synthetic reality we live in. The artist inspiringly engages the audience in his own afflictions about the unknown future of the world, which is a concept we tend to lose sight of.” Jérôme Sans, UCCA Director.
In his new works, the artist raises the concept of ‘broken’ in three dimensions. The first is called “Objectives: Industries”. Every industry fragments and reshuffles, such is the reality of today: like the financial industry, fashion industry, pharmacy industry, IT industry, auto industry, oil industry, insurance industry, entertainment industry, banking industry, etc. The second is “Image Geometry: Fragmentation and Reshuffle”. Cut an image into various geometric shapes and reshuffle the pieces. Through this, the shattered image is visually enhanced through the process, radiating more energy. At the same time, it will lead the audience to re-examine and question its construction. The third is “Motivation: Splitting Things, Splitting Words”. Images are things, words and alternative realities at the same time. In these works, they are washed over – visually and conceptually – by analytical perspective and deconstructive methodology, thus revealing personal voice and point of view.
In his new works created specifically for UCCA, Chen breaks apart the seemingly strongest and most representative value system of this era, namely, the embodiments of the financial, energy and consumerist systems: credit cards, gold, automobiles, transit system, and the flashiness of luxury products — a symbol of abstract values. ‘Scene’ — a concept crucial to Chen’s paintings — is merely a grandiose but superficial layer in these works. By shattering the solid and the abstract, is the artist trying to reveal the specific things behind this layer and steer our mind to them? Just like the shadowy abstract symbols of value (such as the stock market index) we care so much about in our daily lives, these metaphoric and symbolic layers are things and facts which have influenced our way of thinking, thus disconnecting us from the world and of specific things and their values. “Perhaps this note of being ‘fragmenting’ is helpful for us to ponder over our current position and value,” comments Guo Xiaoyan, UCCA Chief Curator.