He Sen, born in 1968 in the Yunnan province, is particularly concerned with the increasing number of dilemmas facing China's youth as they grow up in a rapidly evolving society. He maintains that the young Chinese generation "do not know what to do, they feel confused and perplexed by our new society," and by representing young women's lives in the manner which he does, He Sen is commenting on the individual's loss of spirituality and of feelings of uncertainty in modern day China.
He Sen has been painting young women accompanied by soft toys such as a teddy bear, since 1998. The presence of the plush dolls creates a tension between a sense of innocence and the paraphernalia of adulthood that surround the girls (his girls are often dressed very provocatively and are depicted smoking cigarettes or drinking whisky). "His works represent the fear of growing, an escape from reality generated by a sense of panic. New Chinese generations seem scared by responsibility, so they want to escape... [the] toys are elements associated to children and childhood, they help to relax and don't need effort, again as escape from obligations and responsibilities" (E. Battiston, in He Sen, exh. cat., Milan, Marella Art Contemporanea, October-November 2003, unpaged).
He Sen has also always given significant attention to his figures' eyes. In his first paintings from this series the young women he painted had their eyes rubbed out, leaving somewhat blurry expressions in their place. In his more recent work, however, He Sen has been painting his subjects' eyes with great clarity. He renders their jaded, despondent and occasionally smiling expressions in striking detail. The blurring effect that he had achieved in his early work is now replaced by the bluish-grey cigarette smoke that wisps around the girls' heads, or in other cases the on shadows cast on the monochrome grey and blue backgrounds. The young women He Sen presents us with seem to be caught somewhere between an innocent childhood and a troubled, uncertain adult life, constantly in flux.