For Chen Wenbo daytime equates to feelings of ennui, of not being free and of spiritual blockage. Only at night is there limitless vitality. Lamplight can natural focus the gaze on a particular thing or scene and the city under the cloak of night itself resembles some giant installation. All of Chen Wenbos setting paintings can be seen as sections of this super-sized ready-made object set out in ranked order. His theme seems to run horizontally rather progressing deeper in a linear fashion. Such an attitude to painting implies a kind of decisiveness, a decisiveness that only a somewhat gloomy existentialist hero could be so firm in. Starting from a given point in time, someone decided to stop living and become a spectre, a spectre adrift in the night taking candid photographs undercover, as Chen Wenbo put it. Dead by daylight, alive under lamplight; it is an experience that has been shared by several past generations and still is so today daylight: the place to grow up in, an all-encompassing care; lamplight: whispered small joys, low-level freedom, fragmentary feelings sent asunder by the impact of propaganda. Chen Wenbo: I am an investigator of Chinas special society, a critic of all systems, the gravedigger of the self The ambition of the artist is to construct a museum to the night of the soul of contemporary humanity, a visual specimen collection in the darkness. The way he works has something of the quality of cataloguing or drawing up accounts. He is like a worker bee constantly gathering. The emergence of a new idea will imply a new field of vision, an extension of the range in which he flies.
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