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Chen Wenji was born in Shanghai in 1954. After graduating from the printmaking department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1978, he served as assistant professor at the printmaking department at CAFA until 1980. He was the lecturer at the folk art department from 1981 to 1993, professor at the mural department, chief of basic teaching and research section and executive council at the oil painting association from 1993 to 2014.Read More
In 1986, Chen Wenji was awarded for his very first painting. He delved into oil painting head first. On the whole, Chen Wenji's works is characterised with calm, collected and empowering visuals. His creative career could be divided into three phases:
Phase I: End of 1980s to the start of 1990s. During this phase, he was primarily focused on still life paintings. The seemingly mundane and ubiquitous everyday objects give certain grave metaphors to reality. However, this kind of painting was not 'authentic' enough to his ideal, which is delicate, autistic and melancholy expression.
Phase II started in the late 1990s, when Chen Wenji's focus gradually shifted from indoor to landscapes. These scenes often unfold in the form of medium to distant prospect in Chen Wenji's pictures, with a hazy greyish tone, implying a desolated scene amidst the time of change. For example, his Supreme Series and Endless Promise shows indifference, monotony and lack of individuality in the industrial era.
Phase III began in 2000. Chen Wenji moved towards abstraction with geometrical shapes and pure colours. The contrast in grey scale and bright shades in those cones and spheres created visual illusions of 3D sculpted smooth surfaces. On the one hand, it is his relentless exploration in deepening and distilling the language of oil painting; On the other, his musings on the intrinsic nature and order of the physical world. Generally speaking, Chen Wenji's artistic concern gradually shifted from a macro to a micro level, and his world view is reflected through these simplistic, pure images.
His painting Red Scarf was collected by the Museum of Fine Arts of the University of Hong Kong in 1994. His print work Chair, Furnace is collected by the British Museum.
Text courtesy Aye Gallery.
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