Chen Zhen: Without going to New York and Paris, life could be internationalized
30 May–7 October 2015
Rockbund Art Museum
No.20 Huqiu Road
Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) in Shanghai will celebrate its fifth anniversary with an ambitious new exhibition Chen Zhen: Without going to New York and Paris, life could be internationalised, which will run from May 30 to October 7. Organized by RAM, curated by international curator Hou Hanru, with Xu Min, the long-term life and work partner of Chen Zhen, as artistic consultant, the show will feature large-scale installations, as well as sketches and notes by Shanghai-born conceptual artist Chen Zhen (1955–2000). The exhibition will also include an installation coming from the catalogue Chen Zhen.1991–2000 Unrealized (Ed. Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, 2007), thanks to the support of RAM in collaboration with the artist’s estate.
Largely recognized as one of the most important Chinese artists of the last two decades, Chen Zhen’s work derives from his personal experience of migrating and working across different continents and cultures. Chen Zhen drew inspiration from his own life experience, travelling between his native city of Shanghai and Paris, responding to and engaging with contemporary social issues across different cultures.
The new exhibition will focus on Chen Zhen’s travels in and out of Shanghai during the 1990s, reflecting on the rapid changes of social reality within the city at this time. Chen Zhen frequently returned to Shanghai during this period and developed a series of new works responding to the changing social landscape as Shanghai established itself as a new global city. Large scale installations on display, such as Le Bureau de change and Daily Incantations reveal this interest in Shanghai’s urban and socio-economic developments and provide a commentary on the changing daily life Chen Zhen witnessed.
Throughout the exhibition, Chen Zhen’s keen interest in human conditions is presented, from his reflections on his own personal health, seen in the delicate alabaster and crystal sculptures of Zen Garden and Crystal Landscape of Inner Body (Coq), against the backdrop of an ever-changing economic, political and social landscape. Using a range of new and recycled materials, many of the installations include everyday objects that could be found on the streets but have been transformed into performative and site-specific assemblages. Alongside more traditional objects such as Chinese chamber pots and coins, Chen Zhen also worked with new technologies and digital media, marrying cultural heritages with contemporary innovations in order to create a synergy reflective of the contemporary world.
The exhibition will be displayed in RAM’s exquisite heritage Art Deco building on the Shanghai Bund district, which blends a Western architectural style (restored by David Chipperfield prior to opening in 2010) with Chinese decorative elements within Shanghai’s diverse cityscape. This blend reflects Chen Zhen’s own body of work, aiming to generate a powerful resonance and dynamic dialogue within the context of Shanghai as both a Chinese and global city. In conjunction with all of RAM’s programmes, the exhibition has been conceived and curated in close relation to the architectural and curatorial context of the Museum and highlights include Precipitous Parturition, a long sculpture made of bicycle inner tubes that will snake through the upper gallery space.
This year RAM will celebrate its fifth anniversary, reflecting on its exceptional programme over the past years; acknowledging the museum’s unique position within China’s dynamic contemporary art scene; looking ahead to continuing to develop its pioneering exhibition, education and research programmes; and pursuing its ongoing mission to engage the community to fulfill and grow the social function of the Museum.