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February 20, 2021

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Colored lights, growth and a curious mind

CURIOSITY and an open mind is all you need for two exhibitions currently showing in the Long Museum West Bund by Chen Yujun and Li Shurui.

Chen Yujun’s “Sheng Zhang,” literarily meaning growth, features the artist’s latest ink-collage series and installations.

Born in 1976 in Putian, Fujian Province, Chen graduated from the Integrated Art Department at China Academy of Art in 1999.

In the past decade, his work has focused on the inner-self and its conflict with external influences. Chen attempts to examine how individuals face their own fragmented, shifting identities under the influence of multiculturalism and its evolving position in contemporary Asian countries.

The Shanghai-based artist is swift in using different mediums, including painting, collage and installation. He believes existing materials from everyday life may all become an intermediary for artistic practice, and the mundane elements can offset the feel of distance and alienation.

Responding to the chaotic changes around the globe last year following the pandemic, Chen’s site-specific works create a contradicting atmosphere where the old and the new merge, rise and fall and alter — a metaphor he sees in modern-day social-cultural situations.

The terraced and sinking space of the gallery under a golden tone resembles a huge and delicate container that bears extravagance and waste, shining with radiances.

The highlight of the exhibition goes to the 22-meter-long re-sculpted scene of the Mulan River, which originates from his hometown. It is the most significant concept in the artist’s works.

Last year Chen decided to revisit Mulan River. Together with his team, the artist resided in the vernacular architecture and building complex to experience different community activities and folkways, so he could shape a narrative that travels beyond sensory memories.

He found that part of the river was reconstructed into a water park and many houses along the river, with distinctive architecture styles, had been demolished.

As a result, the installation of “Mulan River” illustrates how the mother river is incarnated in the artist’s mind as a “prototype,” or a “primitive image” that helps to form his aesthetic psychological structure.

The other exhibition of artist Li Shurui features interrelated paintings and light installations.

Born in 1981, Li hails from Chongqing. A graduate from the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, she was granted a scholarship by the New York Fellowship Program of Asian Cultural Council in 2016. She now lives and works in Beijing and Dali, Yunnan Province.

Drawing from her life experiences, Li thinks the use of “light” and “color” can embody, record and shape individuals’ needs and spirituality in different cultures and times, which is also related to their collective ideology in a broader sense.

Over the years, the artist has been consciously collecting information and materials on light and color from different periods and regions. She archives these visual marks from different eras to reflect an evolving cultural landscape illuminated by light and color.

‘Sheng Zhang’
Date: Through May 9 (closed on Mondays), 10am-5:30pm

‘High Light’
Date: Through April 10 (closed on Mondays), 10am-5:30pm
Venue: Long Museum West Bund
Address: 3398 Longteng Ave


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