'My artistic process is experiential. I travel into the space of my first brushstroke and let it lead me, exploring my relationship with this creative step. I want it to expand slowly from this crowded confinement.' - Chen Yujun
The multifold form of space is a daily reality one lives with both in modern life and the realm of contemporary art. As the living space of the modern people steadily expands in a more liberal social milieu, the capitalist social mindset compels men to focus on the reality of living, and it consequently constricts one's living space. Contemporary art, in the same vein, questions our preconceived notions of space, as it finds its footing in a transformative, observational approach, and the formulation of creational philosophy: a myriad of explorative means, including four dimensions, paradoxical or contortive arrangements, level planes, spatial dissolution and dissection, are thus developed. Chen Yujun excels in constructing outlandish fields with creative spatial arrangements to explore the constantly-evolving political, economic and cultural influences of globalisation: as he examines his childhood and memories, he attempts to pinpoint logic on Asian identities amid sweeping global integrations, and organises issues, paradoxes and the current a fairs with visualised methods.
A graduate from the China Academy of Art's Department of Comprehensive Design in 2007, Chen Yujun was a featured artist at Gwangju Museum of Art in South Korea, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, and the National Museum of Indonesia in Jakarta in recent years. Chen was born and brought up in Fujian Province, China, some of his relatives relocated to Southeast Asia in 1990's. Their identity as an immigrant and the experiences of living in a strange land have since become the core of his art. A year after graduation, he began exploring ways to build a prototype of his memories on canvas. Asian Territories Series and Temporary Family Series are the creative fruition of territorial symbolism extended from a geospatial viewpoint.
The canvas of Asian Territories - 6 m2 No. 20091218 is 2-metre tall and 3-metre wide, extending the 'field' in the piece on both sides. The chaise on the left side, now larger, gives viewer a realistic spatial illusion. Chen's academic training has enabled him to adeptly utilise unusual mediums to create envisioned scenarios. The clean, crisp vertical lines reinforce the visuals of the level plane, and assemble themselves into intriguing wallpaper patterns. The dark orange and pink lines on the right half are compactly arranged to give the facade an angle, and support the space with a semblance of an enclosure. Propylene paint with a tinge of glitter drips downward; its translucent quality hints at the pattern of the floor, to compliment the edge of the chaise and the dripping paint in the cracks of the tiles, obscuring spatial boundaries. And it dawns on viewer that this quasi-realistic space is a realm carefully construed with patterns: it is a territory of rigidity, constraints, and oppression.
The vertical lines symbolise systems, institutions, expansions and takeovers of the modern people. The end-result is self-imprisonment. Chen seeks to understand and examine the struggles taking place within, and establish logical orders in the process. The work features one lone piece of furniture, doing away all colours and extraneous furnishings. The field is lacking an imagery focus, and purposely obliterating specific storytelling and characters. The void and expressionless aesthetic of Asian Territories - 6 m2 No. 20091218 communicates an impression of unfinished business, and reserves an unfinished space in a virtual world to permit viewer interpretation. The work indicates that the artist's thought process for this series has evolved from a personal, memorial narrative to 'the identification of others.' It seeks to communicate the mixed feelings unmoored by civilisational transitions.