Exhibition Past – NAVATE

15 October 2020 - 6 June 2021

Chen Zhen


Curated by Vicente Todolí

“Short-circuits” is conceived as an immersive exploration within the complex artistic research of Chen Zhen (Shanghai, 1955—Paris, 2000), bringing together for the first time some of the artist’s most significant works from 1991 to 2000 in the Navate and Cubo spaces of Pirelli HangarBicocca.
Chen Zhen developed his art from the late 1970s. Born and raised in Shanghai, he lived through the Cultural Revolution in China during his adolescence and moved to Paris in 1986. While initially oriented towards painting, he gradually moved towards the creation of installations (creating his first one in 1989). In them, he brought together everyday objects such as beds, chairs, and tables, assembling them in compositions that took the items away from their original functions and into a metaphorical dimension.
Chen Zhen’s art paradigmatically reflects his wish to find a visual synthesis that would integrate the aesthetic dimension of his homeland with that of the places he came in contact with, in a constant, fluid exchange between Eastern and Western thought.

The title of the exhibition is inspired by the artist’s creative method, which he referred to as a “short-circuit phenomenon”, which is that of revealing the hidden meaning of a work of art when it is taken from the original setting for which it was created to a different place. This process led Chen Zhen to reflect on the concept of symbolic and cultural enrichment as a means of artistic creation. The idea behind the exhibition reflects this, creating original interactions between the works on display, while also shedding light on the numerous cross-references and connections that appear in the artist’s works, creating an open dialogue on a number of themes: globalization and consumerism, overcoming the hegemony of Western values, and the coming together of different cultures.
His most notable solo exhibitions include those at Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai (2015); Musée Guimet, Paris (2010); Mart – Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento and Rovereto (2008); Kunsthalle Wien (2007); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2003–4); Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC), Milan, and MoMA PS1, New York (2003); Serpentine Gallery, London (2001); GAM – Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin (2000); Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb (2000); Cimaise & Portique, Albi (2000); Tel Aviv Museum of Art (1998); The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1994); Le Magasin, Grenoble (1992).
His works have been included in many group shows at some of the most prestigious institutions, including Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York (2017-18); Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2007-08); Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris (2000-01); Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (1994); Grand Palais, Paris (1988). The artist has also participated in the 4th Lyon Biennale, 2nd Gwangju Biennale (1997); several editions of the Venice Biennale (2009, 2007, 1999); 3rd Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane (1999-2000).

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