Chen Fei "Flesh and Me" @ Galerie Perrotin, Hong KongJuxtapoz // Wednesday, 22 Jan 2014
Wow, this looks like a great show. A mixture of erotica, fantasy, and old fashioned saliciousness from Chinese painter Chen Fei is now on display at Galerie Perrotin in Hong Kong. The new exhibition is comprised of seven paintings mainly executed in 2013, and is a record of Chen’s major transition in life, including his first taste of independent adult living in 30 years.
Flesh and Me is a continuation as well as an end to his last solo exhibition, Stranger (2011), in terms of themes and visual language. As with his earlier works the pieces are never about grand social discourses, but recollections with his heroine and exaggerated visualizations of his wild imaginations. Among the seven pieces, “Step Father’’ marks the beginning of a new series, highlighting the definitive style of Chen’s work in the coming two years.
Chen attributes his personal preference of portraying the vulgar to his upbringing. Describing the education he received as traditional and barbaric, he believes it is this inappropriate taste that differentiates him from other artists. Proposing that not fitting within the conventional notion of “beauty” does not equate to the bad. Chen’s black humor is displayed through his paintings that are intended to stir emotions and sensory sensations, by challenging this very concept of good and bad taste, both aesthetically and morally where subjects swing between decency and the lack of it. As observed in the tattooed bodies, a penis that is about to be castrated and the anatomized human parts, notions of sex, desire and violence are prevalent in Chen’s pieces. He playfully undermines the value of art, life and death by an almost squeamish processing of the pictures. The seemingly carefree, at times idealized backgrounds impassively hypnotize us in their game-liked atmosphere, which on the contrary serve to heighten the cruelty represented. This dialogue not only challenges the accepted art historical canon of beauty but also reflects the nonconformist attitude held by many artists of the Post-80’s generation from China