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Wenbo Chen

China Born in: 1969

Chen Wenbo was born in 1969 in Chongqing, Sichuan Province, China. He graduated from the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts.

In the continuity of Yue Minjun and the Beijing artists associated with "cynical realism", evoking the irruption of excessive consumption and modern dehumanisation, Chen Wenbo hijacks the classic medium of oil painting to produce striking and disturbing portraits. These ultra-realistic faces, with their smooth, naked, candy-pink skin, are criss-crossed with geometric patterns that seem to imprison them.

But the artist's intention is the opposite of cynical laughter or tragic resignation. The subjects are intensely subjective, their clear, determined and open looks tearing through the parasitic mesh of geometric patterns. The hands are in the foreground, questioning the face, grasping it, pointing at the ears, eyes and tongue in enigmatic, silent and complicit postures, in a form of challenge. A third hand frequently intervenes, making contact with the subject.

If Chen's work evokes, like many of his Chinese contemporaries, the suffering of a modern society in the grip of reification, it also and above all depicts the inalienable and subversive persistence of subjectivity, and the affirmation of its power to forge its own forms of social ties. Beyond the visceral unease they may at first arouse, these portraits directly challenge the viewer on the power of his own gaze, of his own hold on the world. It is no longer a question of complaining about the absence of freedom, it is up to us to conquer it.

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Few works remaining by Wenbo Chen

These are the last remaining works by Wenbo Chen.
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Wenbo Chen, Vitamin Z, Print

Wenbo Chen

Vitamin Z, 2000
41.3 x 29.5 inch


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