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February 27, 2021

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Chinese artist feasts on ‘Morning Market’ still life

Chinese painter Chen Fei’s solo exhibition “Morning Market” opens today at the Yuz Museum Shanghai.

Curated as “a museum within a museum,” the exhibition goes through the artist’s still life creations from the past four years.

With Chen’s characteristic dark humor and split-screen style, the new series portrays fruits, dumplings, vegetables and old junk on a desk, to create a panorama of local life by drawing on worldly realities.

These new works, which resemble 17th century Dutch still life paintings, take on an open perspective. They embed humanistic care for people’s lives in a matter-of-fact narrative, presenting the “physical and secular experience of being in the world.”

In terms of drawing skills, the artist, by borrowing from Chinese New Year paintings, has broken away from the worship of Western classical art and completed a simple yet rich creative expression.

In Chen’s artwork “For Breadth and Immensity,” the painter presents a grand, overpowering feast with Oriental food stuffs, such as tofu, chayote, longan, ginseng and other traditional fruits and vegetables.

It is a complex composition, perhaps suggesting gluttony and overconsumption.

The scenario might easily remind viewers of Western still life paintings, such as wines, lemons or cheese, but Chen brushes his still life artwork with a China approach.

The “Morning Market” could be seen as the visualization of the painter’s efforts in collecting, sorting and summarizing objects.

They are carefully maneuvered by the brush to create a lively market full of images, inviting the viewers to enter a kaleidoscopic and folded world behind the still lives.

Dates: Through May 9 (closed on Mondays), 10am-6pm

Venue: Yuz Museum Shanghai

Address: 35 Fenggu Road


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