bronze, vehicle duco
290 x 120 x 200 cm
Chen Wenling’s ‘Red Memory’ series was inspired by his own childhood in a poor and relatively remote area of Fujian Province during the Cultural Revolution and the early years of the post-Mao Reform and Opening Up period. The skinny figures of young boys with exaggerated facial features in their characteristic glossy fire engine red evoke nostalgia for an apparently simpler time – although the colour, while symbolizing wealth and happiness, is not without its political overtones in China, a strategic choice acknowledged by the artist. In an interview with LuxArtAsia prior to a Beijing exhibition he said: “This series was based on my childhood memories, but I think it also represents all Chinese children of a certain era. Obviously not today's, because children are much fatter now … With this series, I wanted to talk about human nature and emphasize the unpretentiousness of children in contrast with what is happening in contemporary China.” During his MFA at Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts Chen was particularly influenced by masters of figurative sculpture such as Rodin, but he also admires the Surrealists and the Colombian sculptor Botero. Echoes of Rodin’s use of gesture and body language to evoke profound emotion and psychological struggle can be found in Chen’s male figures, while the exaggeration of facial expressions and simplified forms recall Botero’s corpulent figures.