Born in 1985, Chen Tianzhuo graduated from the UK’s Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design and the Chelsea College of Art and Design. In just June of this year, he staged an exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Influenced by subculture and pop art, he is adroit at analysing popular elements, dissolving, cleaving, twisting them, and then re-creating a scene from the atmosphere of a virtual field, thereby generating colourful and strongly suggestive imagery. Skulls, eyeballs, rotting flesh and other horror elements form for him the index of this narrative.
In creating Eye, Chen Tianzhuo employs wood to fashion a complete eyeball structure behind which lies a detailed depiction of muscle groups and blood vessels. In front, the retained wood texture of the conjunctiva has striated chisel marks of varying lengths and thicknesses, with the fluorescent orange layering into a gradual transition to the yellow which forms the iris, while above, the tight rows of wavy lines together point towards the window on the soul – the pupil, as the saturated peach-pink disc boldly sits dead centre, so that it is impossible to overlook its presence regardless of the angle of view. Both ends of the eyeball seem suspended in air, and the background is regimented by radial white light tubes that di fuse a sun-like halo, while the dark centre portion casts a ridge shadow over the eye, with the bright middle serving to intensify its colour.
The artist gives this arrogant eyeball the image of an ‘evil eye’ – a superstition that spread from central Asia in ancient times, and which in that tradition holds the mighty power to bestow misfortune and doom – yet its precise human anatomical details reflect accuracy. The visual and non-visual arrangement guide a delicate relationship between human nature and ethical practices and, apart from the strong impact of the artist’s consideration of colour and skill, Eye also seems as if able at a glance to pierce the soul of modern humans, causing the audience – with nowhere left to hide – to have to confront their most naked selves.