Axel Vervoordt Gallery is pleased to announce representation of New York and Shanghai-based artist Shen Chen (b. 1955, Shanghai). Opening on 16 October, the artist’s inaugural exhibition will be held at the Hong Kong space, featuring twelve paintings created between 2009 and 2021. Shen will be the first Chinese artist in the gallery’s roster and his first European solo exhibition with the gallery is planned for 2022 at Kanaal.
Throughout his career, Shen has emphasised the artistic process and materials in his practice. In recent years, he has mainly applied the Western medium of acrylic paint in a way that is reabsorbed through his training and knowledge of the qualities of ink. Painting with the canvas on the floor, he adopts a physical and introspective gesture of layering brushstrokes onto the canvas. Incorporating the flow of his qi (breath movement and energy), Shen paints each brushstroke vertically and by doing so, forms a horizontal marking of where the brushes end and begin again. What emerges from the canvas is a transformative, ever-changing, and endless space. With subtle tonal gradation and nuances, Shen’s works bear stylistic influences of paintings from the Color Field movement of the 1940s and 50s in New York. Yet, his practice is rooted in an innate philosophical mode of thought from his training in traditional Chinese ink painting.
In a disciplined act of repetition, Shen adds depth to the canvas with layers of paint, completing each work only when he feels his qi has left and when he has reached emptiness into the void. His works are temporal, where reciprocating layers of dialogue emerge in each brushstroke between opacity and translucence.