Chen Dongfan: Sanctuary

When 30 Jan 2020 - 1 May 2020
Where The Yeh Art Gallery, Queens campus of St. John’s University
8000 Utopia Parkway
Queens, NY 11439
United States

[The Yeh Art Gallery is open by appointment only. Please check the organizer's website for up-to-date information.]

The Dr. M.T. Geoffrey Yeh Art Gallery (Yeh Art Gallery) at St. John’s University in New York City announces a solo exhibition with Chen Dongfan. This will be the artist’s first institutional solo exhibition in New York. The Yeh Art Gallery will also unveil a site-specific mural by Chen outside the gallery’s historic building, Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall.

Chen Dongfan: Sanctuary will run from January 30 – May 1, 2020, and will coincide with solo exhibitions by Chilean artist Patrcia Domínguez, and Turkish visual journalist Fevzi Yazıcı.

The opening reception for Chen Dongfan: Sanctuary will be on Thursday, January 30 from 4-7PM.

Chen Dongfan: Sanctuary
January 30–May 1, 2020

Known for his vibrant, gestural, abstract paintings, Chen Dongfan makes art, in his own words, “not about dreams, but rather a kind of reality, a kind of memory, a mental world, [and] the intersection between sensation and illusion.” Chen Dongfan: Sanctuary, marks the artist’s first institutional solo exhibition in New York, and responds to the uncanny confluence of geopolitical circumstances that shaped the Yeh Art Gallery. Housed in a distinctly traditional Chinese architectural compound on the idyllic campus of a Catholic university, the venue was constructed through funds provided by the Chiang Kai-Shek administration in the 1970s and features such anachronistic juxtapositions as a larger-than-life statue of Confucius and wood panels from the Republic of China’s 1964/65 World’s Fair pavilion.

Chen’s project will encompass a site-specific commission on the walkway outside Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, a performance developed in collaboration with the electronic music duo Shanghai Restoration Project on February 22, and an ensemble of large-scale black and white paintings in the gallery. Chen’s site-specific mural builds on the success of his New York Times lauded project The Song of Dragon and Flowers, a 4800 square foot mural that snaked through Doyers Street in New York’s Chinatown. For Chen, the “sanctuary” evokes the sacredness as well as the emotional and communal resonance of both a personal creative space or a memorial hall. The sanctuary is ultimately an experimental space where the unlikeliest encounters feel right at home.

In a radical departure from the artist’s prior practice, Chen challenges himself to work only in monochrome in the series of large-scale paintings that draw on parameters intimately linked to his creative life: science fiction (Cixin Liu’s acclaimed Remembrance of Earth’s Past series, Carl Abbot’s treatise Imagining Urban Futures), Bach’s fugues, figures of classical and urban legends, among others. The artist hopes to reconcile “a calligraphic energy with the destructive potency of graffiti.” Alongside this ensemble, the main Yeh Art Gallery space will also feature an interactive component, The Sanctuary Club: a blackboard on which Chen intends to sketch sporadic images and notes. Visitors are invited to respond to these markings and leave their own. During the collaborative performance with the Shanghai Restoration Project, Chen will blend all prior images on the board with new, spontaneous ones.

The largest painting in the exhibition, The Art of Fugue, will mirror the scale of his site-specific mural on the walkway leading towards Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall. Done in exuberant hues and titled Sun Yat Sen Road in Color, the mural responds not only to the architectural and historical context of the site, but echoes one of Sun’s most famous couplets, in which colors convey specific metaphors of revolutionary force.

This exhibition is curated by Xin Wang.

Saturday, February 22 at 4PM: Performance with Shanghai Restoration Project

About Chen Dongfan

Image courtesy of the event organizer.

For more information please click here.