Shen Jingdong is an acclaimed contemporary artist of the Chinese new wave.
Considering the dual meaning of “uniform” in Chinese – “dress of certain profession” and “conformity of bodies or spirits when subjected to an external mandatory force”- Shen is interested in showcasing his fellow servicemen, with techniques that stray away from traditional realism, Shen’s works aims to exhibit or depict the image of the hero from a new perspective in both painting and sculptural form. His recent works are plain, sincere or even silly and placid: with forward gaze beyond reach and cartoon or toy-like style facial expressions and postures. In some of his works of ceramic, porcelain and bronze, even the eyes are hollowed out to emphasize symbolism. Shen has reproduced the heroes that have been so far away in his own terms of idealism, in a society full of utilitarianism and commercialism.
Shen’s works can be seen in collections worldwide and one of his most famous collectors is actress Zhang Ziyi.
ARTIST STATEMENT ” WHO I AM?”
“At first I got inspiration for my Hero Series from a photo showing me in army uniform. My original plan was rather simple. I just wanted to present me as a hero.
I began with clay figurines, then made porcelain figurines, and finally, oils. Gradually, I came to treat more subjects than my personal image in army uniform – I presented people of all social walks.
People who were born in 1950s and 1960s have lived through the Red Era and heroes like Lei Feng, Huang Jiguang and Dong Cunrui have become their enduring memory. My creation of the series, in fact, is exploration of the people’s memory of that time. My works will revive their memory of heroes and thus start an interaction and communication between my works and their viewers. It is communication of people living in different times and places. My real purpose is to create images typical of a time and make the images popular. By means of such images, I am not preaching anything to the public, but showing my understanding of heroes in our time.
I do not want to make my creation a vehicle for many moral messages. I will be contented if my works will arouse people’s memory of something, make them think of something, stimulate them, and ignite an interaction between my images and their viewers. As for the real meaning of my works, I will leave their viewers to have their own opinions. I feel that in a time when heroes are absent, my works may have significance.
I think that acceptance of ideas contained in my works is a process of a commodity being accepted by consumers. It takes time. At first I meant to present myself as a hero, and then I broadened themes of my works. By my endeavor, my heroes are being accepted by the public. This means my ambition is being fulfilled. The image of an ordinary person like me will be passed down as a hero. A hundred years later, if my work still exists, people will ask who the person is.
“Who am I?” – That is the question I constantly try to answer in my works.”
Chen’s work has been widely exhibited:
2004, Out of the Window Space of Distraction, Tokyo
2006, Wave Chinese media Art, 1997-2004, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
2007, Galerie Loft, Paris
2008, Galerie Maeght, Paris
2008, China Design, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
2010, Red Beauty, Fabien Fryns Fine Art, Los Angeles
2010, Unbearable Beauty, Ooi Botos Gallery, Hong Kong
2012, Chinese Art Centre, Manchester, UK
2012, Glamorous Futurist by Chen Man Exhibition, Diesel Art Gallery, Tokyo
2013, Proud of Dignity 2012, Lady Dior Exhibition, Paris
2014, A New Attitude: Chen Man’s Provocative Interpretations of Contemporary Chinese Women Exhibition, RedLine Art Center, Denver
2015, “Four Seasons: Sprint” and “Long Live the Motherland”, Asian Arts Museum, San Francisco
2016, Chen Man X The Peninsula Hotel Global, Pink Ribbon Charity Auction and Exhibition, The First Stop, New York City