Art Scene China - Contemporary Chinese Art


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Chen Yu is indeed a poet. Her paintings derive from poetic feelings and expressions. Her works are acuminous, passionate and simple; therefore they reach directly and deep into the viewer heart. Poetry is the essence of literature. For Chen Yu, painting may be the same to art. She uses very simple expression to present a complicated and beautiful object and the scenario it is in. There is also some kind of quietness and indifference in her paintings, which is the core of life and related to reality. Therefore, it is a selective way that Chen Yu chose to narrate life. There is a pureness of spirit that lies there. She knows how to peel off the impurity and encumbrance, and enhance the graceful gusto and ideals in her mind in the boorish art environment. She knows how to present to the viewers the complete and transparent esthetics.

The choice of Chen Yu’s expression is natural and led by her emotion which enables her to avoid the common flaws in contemporary art. For example, there is a lack of expression from most artists who are only focused on conception. They can only provide rough and chaotic expressions because they are confused by their desire. In contrast, Chen Yu’s paintings give the viewers a vivid feeling of the moisturized flower pedals, and let the viewers feel refreshed, peaceful and joyful.

Also, Chen Yu insisted on presenting her ideas in a Chinese way. It is a ‘Chinese way’ because of the following two aspects: firstly, it is her way of thinking that harmony and freshness comes from the Chinese traditional aesthetics and “Dao” and “Benevolence” philosophy; secondly, it is her way of expression. Her paintings are somehow like ink paintings, which endows the artworks clean and refreshing streak. She was trying to use Chinese spiritual expression and Western color interpretation to present the contemporary spirit world. This is a valid and firm effort that she has accomplished. Besides, she is very free to use all kind of expression materials. She is not limited to a certain standard or rule. She explores in her own way. Chen Yu found that mixed media such as lacquer has a flowing characteristic which can express her instinct in a very natural way. It’s also more important that it describes more accurately a woman’s complicated understanding and comprehension of happiness and sadness. Her work’s pleasant texture offers people a perfect place to escape from their life of tremendous stress.

The main color hue, red, and its connotation is a conception itself today. Yet, Chen Yu effectively infused a kind of emotional expression which makes the color ‘red’ able to maintain its realistic meaning and at the same time presents the artist’s personal experience. It keeps the warm feeling underneath the surface of contemporary art expression which is a vivid example of feminine art. Her paintings are clean but somehow full of power which is the root of experience: destiny and desire. This is what makes her different from Georgia O'Keeffe, who possesses another kind of strong character: Chen Yu is peaceful, O’Keeffe is sharp; Chen Yu is natural, O’Keeffe is powerful; Chen Yu is simplistic, O’Keeffe is mysterious.

There are mainly 2 parts of Chen Yu’s themes: “Flowers, not Flowers” series and “Rivers and Mountains” series. In fact, the word “not” means her abstract comprehensions. It is not only abstract in language – it is also abstract as an interpretation “resemble and not resemble” is a metaphor as well. It is because of the multi - level abstract vision and psychology relationships led to the mysterious feeling of her paintings. The flowers belong to women. Blossoms belong to women. However, underneath this extreme glamour, there is always something unexplainable taking magical effect. Because in the meantime, withering and perish are also coming within them. That is “the basic characteristic of an object, a series of objects or environment” (Nathan Carspot Hill “Abstract in Arts and Nature”). Therefore, Chen Yu’s flowers are actually not real objects, but the substitute of emotion. Being added with the aestheticism of the abstract expression, all paintings are covered with the connotative feminine streak. And even though Chen Yu’s mountains and rivers series differ greatly from this by colors and subjects, the spiritual core and basic expression method are similar. Thus, the views can still feel the mystery and elegance in these paintings.

“Relax and forget about yourself, then you’ll understand ‘the dream language’. And your expression will be free and natural. You’ll feel the flow of the sub-consciousness and flash of your inspirations.” This is how Chen Yu describes the moments when she creates. “It is beautiful and pleasant.” And this is not only the base of Chen Yu’s creation but also the sparkle of her life. Undoubtedly, Chen Yu is a painter who understands herself deep in the heart. Sometimes it is an independent artist’s request and wish that their ideas come purely from simplicity and the essence of art. With this request and wish, artist Chen Yu found her own abundant art resource and inspirations. The sparkles that shine in her inspirations are her ‘poems’.

By Liu Yu