Characterised by their ethereal pastels and a precise attention to light, the abstract paintings of Düsseldorf-based artist Chen Ruo Bing capture a contemplative, blissful void. Holding the conviction that 'in the emptiness of the image lies the source of its meaning', Chen evokes a bright light emerging from within the canvas with each stroke of the brush.Read More
Born in Nantong to a family of scholars and artists, Chen Ruo Bing grew up with an interest in Chinese ink wash painting, calligraphy, philosophy, and poetry. From 1988 to 1991, Chen studied at the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou.
Driven by an interest in Western philosophy and art history, Chen went to study at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in Germany, where he was a student of Gotthard Graubner from 1992 to 1998. He became influenced by the theories of Kazimir Malevich and Wassily Kandinsky, along with the works of Josef Albers, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, and Barnett Newman.
Typically working on medium-sized canvases, Chen Ruo Bing creates simple, repetitive geometric forms, paying equal attention to the image and its background. His early works of the 1990s featured 'ink space' on paper – compositions with a quiet simplicity, strongly influenced by Chinese ink painting.
Studying in Düsseldorf expanded the artist's awareness of formal concerns in relation to colour. Chen's unique approach to brushstroke, colour, and light manifests in paintings that possess an incandescent glow, reminiscent of the works of Rothko.
For his 2018 exhibition Flowing: Space–Light–Time at K.O.N.G. Gallery in Seoul, Chen installed three aluminium spheres of various sizes and colours, each wrapped in painted tape to add an element of softness to the industrial material. The artist's elaborate process of painting, rolling, and wrapping the spheres with tape is suggestive of the flow of time and space, and the changing of physical states.
Chen's 2020 exhibition, What we cannot speak about at Galerie Albrecht, Berlin, further expressed the artist's interest in light. Rather than deploying light as a symbol or stylistic tool, Chen allows his painting technique to transform his canvases, from which an inner light source appears to emerge.
Chen has received numerous awards, including the Hedwig and Robert Samuel Foundation's Advancement Award in 1993.
He has held residencies at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation (2000); Youngeun Museum of Contemporary Art, Gwangju (2013); Heinrich-Böll Cottage, Achill Island (2014); Laforêt Summer Vacation Project, Lake Maggiore (2016).
In 2006, Chen founded The House of Light, a museum housing his work along with Chinese antiques, in Jiaxing in China's Zhejiang province.
Chen Ruo Bing has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions across Europe and Asia.
Solo exhibitions include Floating, Galerie Albrecht, Berlin (2022); First Sight: the here and the now, Ginkgo Space, Beijing (2022); Space is the Place, Taguchi Fine Art, Tokyo (2022); What we cannot speak about, Galerie Albrecht, Berlin (2020); Blues, Ginkgo Space, Beijing (2019); Flowing: Space–Light–Time, K.O.N.G Gallery, Seoul (2018); Der Maler Chen Ruo Bing, Kunstmuseum Bochum, Bochum (2016).
Group exhibitions include The Superiority of the Invisible – Chinese Abstract Painting, Galerie Frank Schlag & Cie., Essen (2021); ART is HOPE, Taguchi Fine Art, Tokyo (2021); Where the Value of Art Emerges?, Tottori Prefectural Museum, Tottori City (2020); All This, NanHai Art, San Francisco (2018); Chinese Abstract Painting Today! – Part Two, Galerie Frank Schlag & Cie., Essen (2018).
Amy Lewis | Ocula | 2022