"Ancient painters never saw their own painting albums, let alone the numerous cut-outs extracted from them. If I am not mistake, albums produced prior to the 1960s typically printed entire images. Afterwards, cut-outs and enlargements gradually became used for various layouts - as seen in this large Caravaggio album, which is composed of cut-outs and a 'bleeding' design throughout the volume. The human eye sees people, paintings, sees ever ything, and thus selectively localises and consequently magnifying - technology achieves localised obser vation - and these Caravaggios were accrodingly disintegrated. What makes a classic? My definition is this: A work that has either withstood cut - outs or enlargements of its portions. Pocket sketches by Finch, rare royal Persian curios, medieval manuscripts, and small Egyptian ivory carvings have all been magnified several - fold, but the human eye adapts and is instantly receptive. Numerous examples have been partially magnified and conso lidated, and still continue to be tampered with, profaned, enhanced or discovered to refresh the entire history of art. As Nietzsche put it, 'The revaluation of all values. Digital technology says: Now it is all to watch again anew. All Renaissance and Baroque painters were talented directors, but, as writers, slothful at writing, Caravaggio, particularly so. I read his biography a few years back. In his scant 30 plus years of life, he was constantly on the move, from residence to residence, fighting, fleeing; yet tranquillity reposes in his paintings, just a trace without chaos. Picasso detested him, but Rembrandt, Latour - even Velazquez - everyone is indebted to him."
-By Chen Danqing
Oil painting is a rationalist mode of thought and Chen Danqing's realist series 'Tibetan Paintings Group Work', created during the era of the 1970s and 80s, agitated the painting world even as it set a historic milestone on the path to the development of Chinese contemporary art. Starting in 1998 and continuing to the present, Chen has synthesised it in the current art context to produce his 'Sketchbook' series. Early in his career, Chen distanced himself from the realism in which he recorded folk customs and snatches of Tibetan life while reflecting the creative style of the living conditions of his generation; in contrast, his 'Sketchbook' series relies on still-life depictions as a leitmotif, copying and painting from life, where he creates a tripartite fusion that catalogues modern people's entirely new understanding of culture and art.
In the 17 years that have passed since the artist first encountered a Menzel sketchbook, he has formed an indissoluble bond with the sketchbook as a vehicle. With a documentary method similar to that of a sketch album from ancient times, it is a carrier that integrates art and culture across one thousand years of rapid change, one which copies such media as prints and images to reflect current social reality. With his love of the bodily image, Chen Danqing copies objects after thoroughly pondering them, thereby transforming old images to present them anew, and so strikes a balance between realism and figurative art in his painting. In The Disintegration of Caravaggio, Chen Danqing deconstructs the original composition and re-groups the structural elements into the painting and collage, presenting them in such a way as to simultaneously impart a practical art philosophy and places this into the picture, while 'disintegration', as the title of this canvas, fashions the core idea. By using a realist method in this sketchbook and in his still life paintings, Chen Danqing overlaps a detached arrangement of reconfigured works within this sketchbook in order to impart new meaning to painting. This technique resembles that of British pop artist Richard Hamilton, whose creation of collage paintings misappropriates and inserts within an image paintings that share a similar form of expression; Chen Danqing's works will equally come to be deemed sublime art, emblematic of universal human culture, a re-crystallization of fragmented masterworks that flow into the painter's subjective consciousness to reestablish such classic artworks by transforming them into a unique personal vocabulary of contemporary painting.
In The Disintegration of Caravaggio, Chen Danqing continues to employ a fabric dismantling technique with the lighting decomposition of the Baroque Chiaroscuro masterworks and, by re-tracing the moment in a master painting, seeks to uncover a narrative form for the story buried within the picture. Caravaggio, this unique and unbridled artist, alters people's faces to portray fine details, and uses a superb realist rendering technique for sacred figures prominent in the Bible who are exceptionally dear to the people. With cognition and emotion imported into clinical experience, Chen Danqing encompasses Caravaggio's painted creation of objects via a process of copying when, in a manner akin to the clinical study of ancient masterpieces in traditional Chinese painting; he instills an attitude of respectful admiration in the creative minds of the painted figures. The compositions Chen Danqing executes are painted with ingenuity, and not only offer a frame-by-frame recapitulation - as neoclassical art is supposed to leapfrog a De Stijl rhythm - but also provides the viewer with a visual experience, one that reinterprets the classic works of the classical masters.