Boston/New York

Chen Zhen

Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston / P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center

In 1986, after Chen Zhen left Shanghai for Paris and abandoned painting for sculptural installation, he coined the term “transexperience” to describe a certain self-awareness of homelessness and the active bringing together of cultures that characterized both his life and his art. His interest in combining traditional Chinese philosophy (suppressed in many forms under Mao) with contemporary art and ideas in the West best expressed itself in the poetic works created during his painful final years, when he was battling the autoimmune disorder that would claim his life in 2000. In the exhibition at Boston’s ICA, organized by assistant curator Gilbert Vicario, Chen’s experience as a patient/healer was mapped through seventeen forceful meditations on therapy and spirituality realized by the artist between 1998 and 2000. (Coming from a family of doctors, Chen believed in the restorative value

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