LI CHEN (B. 1963)
Angelic Smile
signed in Chinese, signed and numbered 'Li Chen 4/8' (engraved on the back);
dated '2010' (engraved on the lower side)
bronze sculpture
73(H) x 26.5 x 30 cm. (28 3/4 x 10 3/8 x 11 3/4 in.)
Executed in 2010
edition 4/8
Private Collection, Asia
Asia Art Center, The Beacon Series: When Night Light Glimmers, Taipei, Taiwan, 2010 (different sized illustrated, p. 78-85).
Asia Art Center, Greatness of Spirit: Li Chen Premiere Sculpture Exhibition in Taiwan, Taipei, Taiwan, 2012 (different sized illustrated, p. 116-119).
Asia Art Center, Monumental Levity: Li Chen 2013 Place Vendome Premiere Solo Sculpture Exhibition in Paris, Taipei, Taiwan, 2014 (different sized illustrated, p. 108-109).
Taipei, Taiwan, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Greatness of Spirit: Li Chen Premiere Sculpture Exhibition in Taiwan, November -December 2011 (different sized exhibited).
Paris, France, Place Vendome, Monumental Levity: Li Chen 2013 Place Vendome Premiere Solo Sculpture Exhibition in Paris, September 2013 (different sized exhibited).

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Sylvia Cheung
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Lot Essay

The art of Li Chen is imbued with a childish sense of innocence as well as an enigmatic and timeless wisdom; if any sculpture could elevate human nature, that power would be within the works by Li. He presents a spiritual essence from the East that gives his works a completely different viewing experience compared with Western sculptures.

Angelic Smile (Lot 435) is part of Li's The Beacon series from 2009-2010. Its inspiration comes from a time when Li returned home, lighted up a candle in the Buddhist shrine to bask in tranquility and warmth, while remembering his early drafts for his other work from the same series, Illuminator. To Li, the act of ignition is a type of rest, therapy, and also ritualistic enjoyment; from the interaction between man and fire, a romantic state of mind arises and dances with the candlelight, and the heart is allowed to slow, giving space for one's dialogue with oneself. Angelic Smile represents one who is filled with blessing, joy, and ecstasy, peering skywards bashfully and sincerely. Behind the figure, the cloud almost seems like a bathing cap or a pillow, and while one cannot see the figure's face when viewing from the rear, one can almost discern an abstract representation of a face. This stroke of genius engages the imagination and pushes towards hyper-realism.

The Sound of Nature (Lot 436) is part of the Spiritual Journey through the Great Ether series, developed since 2001, and its unique shape and suspended presentational method can trace its roots back to the Bonsho bells in Buddhist temples. It is written in Ekottara Agama that "when the bell rings, all evil and suffering shall cease."

The sound of the bell is symbolic of ritual cleansing that opens the heart's eye to break free from all troubles. In a characteristic twist and transformation, Li took a whimsical approach to combine the rounded forms of the man and the bell and gave it a hook that resembles headphones. A single look at the peaceful and friendly visage of The Sound of Nature is all it takes for viewers to be drawn in and become engrossed.

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