Skip to content

Press Release

Honor Fraser is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new paintings by artist Yi Chen.

The exhibition, titled Beaut-esque, brings together new painting by the Queens-based Chinese artist. The artist uses culturally mediated images from advertisements and fashion magazines as inspiration for his work. He sees his paintings and collages as metaphors for hybrid, mutated concepts of beauty borne from a global popular culture. These ideas of beauty are formulated in this age of high-speed technology and interconnectedness and transcend country and race. This concept of hybridization and mutation formulate a tense balance in his work, combining enticing beauty and repelling grotesqueries that result in magnetic paintings.

Chen begins his creative process by assembling collages of human (and sometimes mammalian) facial features cut-out from popular fashion magazines. These collages of perfect/imperfect specimens are the foundation of his work. Like an artistic scientist, he disregards race, gender and age and selects individual characteristics and reconstructs them to form a new human species. These collages then become the figurative models for his lushly rendered oil paintings.

In the painting titled Zitta, a woman stares out at us with a defiant gaze from under her bandana. Her face is contorted and unbalanced yet professes both a strength and equal fragility. In Alexa, a face connected to a tube-like prosthetic cultivates the ambiguity of scientific experimentation and elemental protection. This prosthetic device reappears again in the work Poolside, which at first glance evokes a 60’s Hockneyesque scene of relaxation and idyllic repose. However, the gaze of the two figures both fitted with tube-like fixtures, translates the landscape into an otherworldly depiction of the near future. While the sun and fruit reference a superficial aesthetic of health, the tubes add a sense of anxiety that begs the viewer to question the nature of the atmosphere. These three works are representative of both Chen’s thematic interest in beauty and science within the contemporary age of globalization and of the works included in the exhibition.

Yi Chen was born in Beijing in 1974 at the end of the Cultural Revolution. He completed his studies at the Affiliated Art High School of Central Art Academy, Beijing in 1995 during China’s economic boom and ‘new cultural revolution’. He received his BFA at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 2000 and his MFA at Purchase College State University of New York in 2003. He had a solo exhibition at Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York in 2006 and a two-person show at Plum Blossoms Gallery, New York in 2004. He has taken part in group exhibitions at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley Collage, Massachusetts, at the New York Abrons Arts Center, Henry Street Settlement, New York and at Mark Selwyn Fine Art in Los Angeles. Chen will also have a solo exhibition later this year at Gallery Beijing Space, Beijing as well take part in a group exhibition at L MD Gallery in Paris, France.