Chen Yujun: The Second Door

When 6 Mar 2015 - 18 Apr 2015
Where James Cohan Gallery
533 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10001
United States
Enquiry (212) 714-9500

James Cohan Gallery Shanghai is pleased to present Chen Yujun: The Second Door, the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition features newly created paintings and collages shown within an ambitious, large-scale installation that completely alters the interior of the gallery spaces and encapsulates many of the artist’s projects to date. The exhibition opens on Friday, March 6th and continues through Saturday, April 18th, with a reception for the artist on Friday, March 6th from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.

For over a decade Chen Yujun has created works that explore the clashes between the inner self and external influences. Best known for his Temporary Family series, started in 2010, Chen seeks to examine the fragmented and shifting identities of individuals in contemporary Asia as a result of globalization and its increasing cultural position. Growing up in Putian, in the southern Fujian province, Chen Yujun was captivated by the issue of shifting identity his grandparents’ generation experienced as they relocated to Nanyang (a general reference to the regions throughout Southeast Asia) to achieve better lives. Often caught up in conflicts between indigenous culture and local traditions, migrants like Chen Yujun’s grandparents were constantly adjusting to seemingly new environments. Returning to their hometown much later in life and having to conform to newly established identities in a Putian, which had also transformed, came with its own set of challenges. Such experiences are all too familiar to Chen Yujun’s generation who were exposed to various cultures and new concepts since the ‘Open Door Policy’ was initiated in 1978. For Chen, the negotiation between the internal or established system versus the accelerated changing reality became a challenging and common condition for individuals, regions, and countries throughout contemporary Asia. In Chen’s work he seeks to recognize and examine these struggles, establishing a kind of internal order as he creates each new piece of work.

Graduating from the Multi Media Department at China Academy of Art, Chen Yujun experimented freely with a variety of mediums, including oil painting, collage and installation. The Second Door presents the rich diversity of his oeuvre and insight into structure of his thinking process. The title of the exhibition refers to the hidden entrance into one’s inner self. In contrast to a front door or facade, for Chen the second door defines the boundary between the public and the private sphere. Radically altering the entire interior structure of the gallery spaces, Chen’s installation begins with a stage or raised platform with wooden columns and discarded doors he collected from dismantled or demolished local houses in Shanghai. The artist has installed his paintings and collages within this installation, which invites the viewer to physically step into the work and its mindset. This is also the first-ever exhibition where the artist has deployed all aspects of his practice.

The Second Door is a unique, personal overview of the various themes and styles explored by Chen Yujun over the course of his career. The large and colorful collages titled Asia Region, made in 2008, are visually dynamic and tapestry-like in feeling, and consider the coexistence and fusion between local tradition and Western influences many Asian countries encountered in the process of modernization. Works from the Temporary Building series (2014) shed light on the rapidly changing social and ecological conditions in China. In Temporary Building No.131210 (2013) Chen depicts trees in open spaces that are confined by fences, suggesting the construction sites commonly seen in cities. Using bold brushstrokes to suggest the disorder of these scenes, the subtle changes in color reveal a certain sensitivity to his subjects. In another painting from this series, Temporary Building No. 130808 (2014), viewers experience a window through which a view from the Chen’s childhood is presented. The rendering of specific objects allow Chen Yunjun to capture his spontaneous memories, emotions and thoughts. This work also embodies Chen’s persistent interest in exploring the intersection of past and present. As Chen has stated, “I have been trying to preserve my feelings and thoughts of specific moments through my depiction of objects. The final images are the expression of the internal order that I established throughout the process of painting.” In Crooked House No.141211 (2014) Chen paints a contorted structure as a series of intersecting spaces in an abstract manner, further blurring the boundaries between imagination and reality.

Chen Yujun (Born in Fujian province, 1976) graduated from the Multi Media Department at China Academy of Art in 1999. After graduation he taught at the academy as a faculty member until 2014. Chen is the recipient of the Second China New Sharp Painting Award held by the He Xiangning Museum, Shenzhen in 2004. In recent years Chen Yujun’s works have been featured in group exhibitions at prominent venues, including Mirror and Shadow, National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta, 2014; ON|OFF: Chinas Young Artists in Concept and Practice at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, 2013; Ctrl+N: Non-Linear Practice, Gwangju Museum of Art, South Korea, 2012. Mulan River, the collaborated project that the artist created with his elder brother, artist Chen Yufan was exhibited at Boers-Li Gallery, Beijing in 2011; and Zhong Gallery, Berlin, in 2012. Chen Yujun lives and works in Shanghai.

Photo courtesy of the organiser/s

For more information, please click here.