2008.11 The works featured in this exhibition are small in number, span a great length of time, and are separated into three periods:
Several portrait sketches were completed before and after 1989. That was that time in which I abandoned Tibetan motifs and was unclear what to paint next. In order to make a living, I embarked up an interesting period in my life: painting street portraits. The streets of New York are bustling with visitors from all around the world, waiting around I would catch sight of pretty young women obviously hesitating whether or not to have a portrait done. I would beckon them to sit for me, promising to gift one portrait to them, and keep another for myself. Over the course of time I accumulated more than ten such portraits. Although these paintings might not be outstanding sketches, they are souvenirs of my livelihood in New York.
From 1993 to 1995 I painted a series of 10 works for an installation that was never completed. What you see here are four of these paintings, they were all done from prints of famous installations. They are truly a pile of still lifes, they are soundless, and that is the name I have given them: “Still lifes.” Soon after, out of boredom, I began to paint still lifes from books, and have continued in that manner until now.
These four large catalogue still lifes were painted this year-I hope the paint is completely dry. I wanted to paint large-scale still lifes since the 90s, but after returning to China I have been busy and lazy, and they were never realized. But in May, and the earthquake in Wen Chuan, I began painting one the very next day, its title was “Mountains and Rivers of China.”I sold this work and donated the money to relief funds. Now that I’ve begun to paint large works, it has become a habit, and there are three other large canvases, which I invite the greater public to critique and comment on.
Chen Danqing November 2008