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Li Chen: Eternity and Commoner

Frye Art Museum
Seattle WA – Feb 18-Apr 8, 2012

Li Chen, Visual Perception (2008)

Li Chen, Visual Perception (2008), clay, rope, wood structure [Frye Art Museum, Seattle WA, Feb 18-Apr 8] Courtesy of the artist

Li Chen, Sky Breaking Gale (2008)

Li Chen, Sky Breaking Gale (2008), clay, rope, wood structure [Frye Art Museum, Seattle WA, Feb 18-Apr 8] Courtesy of the artist

Li Chen is regarded as one of the leading sculptors working in Asia today. The Taiwanese artist creates monumental pieces that combine elements of Buddhist and Taoist philosophy with contemporary thought, yielding heartfelt works rich in both spirit and emotion. Li Chen, who is primarily self-taught, began his career creating traditional sculptures for temples dedicated to the Pure Land tradition of Mahayana Buddhism.

Since the late 1990s, he has developed a highly personal and distinctive iconography that moves away from the traditional aesthetics of Buddhist sculpture from the Tang and Song dynasties.

Characterized by a profound understanding of the human condition, Li Chen’s work invokes feelings of loss, regret and humility, as well as childlike innocence and unambiguous joy. Blending spirituality with classic and contemporary perspectives, the sculptures honour the cyclical nature of life and have a high level of conviction.

The Frye exhibit is his first U.S. museum exhibition. It includes pieces that evolved out of his explorations with clay, wood, rope and wax. Using clay moulded over wood and rope skeletal forms, the artist lets the materials either “live” or “die”. Allowing the clay to dry and crack reveals the underlying structures while wetting down the surfaces keeps the clay “alive”. In this manner, the organic sculptures transform throughout the course of the exhibit.

Li Chen lives in Taiwan and works in Shanghai and Taiwan. His work has been exhibited in Paris, London, Beijing, Copenhagen, Jerusalem and Seoul, as well as in large outdoor exhibits at the Singapore Art Museum and the National Museum of Singapore. In 2007, Li Chen was the first Chinese artist to have a solo show at the Venice Biennale.


Allyn Cantor

 Sat, Feb 4, 2012