Red Memory Series
Hualian Wudaokou Shopping Plaza
The Red Memory series of Wenling Chen has a very strong visual impact, from which we can tell that he is an artist with an extraordinary open creative psychology, and the energy of one of a kind. On the occasion of describing this artwork, the word “magnificent” often came to my ears. “Magnificent” states the tension in both quantity and its great character, and also means there is an amazing sense of newness in this work, in this razzle-dazzle world, the public hardly ever find anything attractive without such newness. We’ve already lost our appetite to all kinds of fancy tricks unless there is something truly mindful in it. Its size and combination made The Red Memory an outstanding piece of artwork, since Wenling Chen upholds the creative principle of respecting the interflow and interaction between the environment and the artwork; and this is also a significant feature of contemporary art, especially in contemporary sculptures. Moving from a relatively closed exhibition space to a open space makes the artwork much more participatory to the public, thus, the sculptures are no longer a simple existence but an organic part of a holistic environment; an echo emerged between the artwork and the participators, creating a scene of “being-there”, and this scene could be poetical, or, conceptual. The Red Memory series stands in the junction of poetical and conceptual, Wenling Chen is not exactly the poetic temperament described by Walter Benjamin, or a philosophical artist referred by Milan Kundera, in my understanding, Chen is more like someone looking for inspirations in life and sublimes it into sources of artistic creation. In other words, what really behind Chen’s back, is a primal power of life, it doesn’t have much to do with the metaphysical thinking or abstract truth, he simply sticks to the experiences of feelings, or, the feelings of experiences. Just as he has declared, time and again, it is life taught him everything. The “gate” did not cage Wenling Chen but poured the power and passion of resistance in him. It is clear that no artist can create a masterpiece without any information access and channel of communication, or either can one earn respects by drifting along with the current of fashion. Chen is at the “fringe”, where he keeps a distance from the main stream art circle while he appreciates that how artistic creation can be stimulated by the latest information. The diversification of contemporary art is consistent with the modernity required by the diversification; a capable and creative artist must stand on the platform of contemporary art in order to pursue further development. Wenling Chen uses the form of sculpture to deliver all his feelings in life, his understanding of sculpture language is “post-modern”, different from academism or realism, “language” slide back to the background here. The stimulating color of red, the repeated duplication, the combinations of various sizes and shapes and so on, they all demonstrate a strong expression in his work, he has broke the imperforation with actions. Maybe one red boy doesn’t stand out as one single separate piece of sculpture, which many artists could achieve this or do even better; however, it doesn’t mean anything. The Red Memory is a whole, a unity, a bigger picture, according to Aristotle: The whole is more than the sum of its parts. I would also want to point out that, Wenling Chen is standing at the junction of poetical and conceptual, The Red Memory is much more a visual form, there is an original vital spirit behind it, and as well, a summarized imaginary space. During a conversation, Wenling Chen has expressed that The Red Memory is now his past, and he needs to dig deeper for feelings and experiences, in his own word: there are so many things tumbling and falling over each other in my head, which need to be properly released. The Red Memory is a mark for his present, though it is a very strong personal mark and has brought him a lot of attention, it is still a first footstep for him; it is hard to be an artist, but it is much harder to become an outstanding artist!
Chen Wen Ling (b.1969 in Quanzhou, Fujian Province, China) from Anxi, China is recognized as one of the top ten contemporary sculptors in the international art industry today, exhibiting in a number of prestigious exhibitions such as Art Basel in Switzerland and the Shanghai Biennale. Chen Wen Ling graduated from Xiamen Academy of Art where he studied in the sculpture department and followed by Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. Currently he works and lives in Beijing as a professional artist. Red is the colour in fashion - from the Red Devil Cheer Team in South Korea to the usual red uniforms of the European football teams and the various red symbols in China.Throughout Chinese history, red has been a symbolic and auspicious colour. Chen wants to express the tension of money, power,anxiety, fear and cruelty in the adult world. In this Red Boys series, he expresses the dream, the remembrance and the nostalgia of our innocent childhood and a questioning of our adult human culture. The Red Boys are innocent and not evil, healthy and not sick. It is well known that the visual arts of the late twentieth century, whether in art,cinema or three-dimension cartoon pictures of computer games are full of violence,self doubt and pity.Chen's Red Boy look like lotus growing out of mud,satisfying the craving for anew trend of avant garde art -where the exploration of our human nature provides hope rather than act as a weapon of criticism. His works attracted locals,international audience,academics and avant-garde critic alike to appreciate them from their own perspectives. Chen's series of the Red Boys, entitled Red Memory, have various meanings and nuances for different modern art viewers. They may be reminded of a newborn baby which symbolizes the innocence of human heart in a classical culture,without any feelings of ordinariness. They may relate the works to the Red Boy of one of Chinese great novels: 'The Journey to the West (Xi You Ji), but without the feeling of an evil spirit. They may be reminded of the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution, without a feeling of cruelty.They may be reminded of the war fires in the past in this strategically important China, without any feelings of fear.Those who know Chen may link the Red boys with a very unusual experience. In 1996, there was an astonishing report on the newspaper of the Xiamen daily, entitled "Rare and Courageous Self Defense". It was reported that a couple was robbed at the beach. The man courageously defended himself and the woman and was stabbed dozens of times.Two main arteries of his wrists were cut open. His body was soaked with blood.It was the bloodiest case in the local criminal history. The article described the heroic action of the young man who survived the attack in detail. He was no other than Mr Chen Wenling. Despite this, Chen shows no trace of hatred in his Red Memory. Modern art emphasizes the concepts in a work. It often creates a style of too many concepts. In contrast, Chen's works are simple and true. He does not deliberately create concepts. The naked bodies have nothing to hide. What is left, is a direct communication with nature and a conversation between society and the people.The facial and body expressions of the Red Boys are properly exaggerated to enhance the communicative effects.This series of works is a relief from too many concepts. It can also be viewed that there is a concept in the works to curtail the burden of concepts.
Red Memory Series. What is it? These two statues are part of Chen Wenling’s famous Red Memory series. The expert opinion: ‘A contradictory negotiation occurs between the anxieties of consumer society and a desire to create images of extreme humanity.’ Billy Tang, curatorial director, Magician Space. Time Out says: Oddly, the grotesque statues are a favourite spot for adoring parents to take photos of their children. Hualian Wudaokou Shopping Plaza, 28 Chengfu Lu, Haidian district 北京市海淀区中关村东路8号东升大厦1层（出口往西）