b. 1969 Chongqing, China
Chen Wenbo, who received his training at the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, is considered one of the preeminent figurative oil painters in contemporary Chinese art. Chen’s detailed paintings place him in the Chinese contemporary realist movement, where he and his contemporaries study the quotidian object as centerpiece in their works. Chen’s work is characterized by the use of vivid colors and minutely detailed photorealism on a massive scale. He uses depictions of everyday objects in isolation as an interpretation of contemporary urban life; his subjects have included toilet paper, keys, pills, and dice. For his Epidemiology series, he selected food items and rendered them thickly in bright palettes, highlighting the mirrored gloss of an egg yolk, for example. His recent practice sees a new direction in his observation of the everyday – in these new paintings, he attempts to interrupt natural environments, taking inspiration from Russian critic Mikhail Bakhtin’s term ‘carnivalesque’ where subversion of the dominant takes place. Chen’s more recent pieces take up the same themes, but move away from his earlier academic style—for an exhibition in 2009 titled “Abio-View,” he painted scenes taken from quotidian photographs across multiple large, irregularly shaped canvases. Chen explains that the interest of his practice is always “in the surface of things.”
His work is in major public collections such as the Ullens Foundation, Belgium; Olenska Foundation, Switzerland; Guangdong Art Museum, China; Uli Sigg Collection, Switzerland; He Xiangning Art Museum, China; the dslcollection, France; and White Rabbit Gallery, Australia.