Chen Zhen - The Marino Golinelli Collection London Friday, October 12, 2007 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galleria Continua, San Gimignano

  • Exhibited

    London, Serpentine Gallery, Chen Zhen, April 28-June 3, 2001; Milan, PAC – Padiglione d’arte contemporanea, Chen Zhen. Un artista fra oriente e occidente, February 28-May 18, 2003; Sienna, Palazzo delle Papesse Centro Arte Contemporanea, Identità e nomadismo, May 28-September 25, 2005

  • Literature

    J. Martin, ed., Chen Zhen, Sienna, 2003, pp. 122 and 142 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Chen Zhen once said “ One should learn to break out of ones own cocoon, and be courageous enough to break away from one’s one self and to abandon ones own cultural context. The Chinese proverb “the soul has left its shelter” in fact symbolizes the critical state in which ones creative capacity has reached the most active zenith, “ (Chen Zhen in “Transexperiences, a conversation between Chen Zhen and Zhen Xian”, Chen Zhen, Milan, 2003, p. 83).

    Chen Zhen moved to Paris in 1986 after studying and practicing as an art teacher in his hometown, Shanghai. His poetic installations are the result of his combined experience of living between both Chinese and Western cultures, and manifests itself persuasively in the present lot, Cocon du Vide, an elegant yet powerful work from 2000.

    The artist used installations as an expression of his creativity from the 1990s onwards, using a genre developed uniquely in Western Contemporary art. The avant-garde concept of installation are descendant of Duchamps’ Fountain and the many other works created by conceptual European and American artists from the 1960s onwards.

    The title itself Cocon du Vide (Empty Cocoon) is also a reference to silk production, an art associated with China. For many centuries China kept the technique of its fabrication secret and exported it outside along the famous “silk road” thus paradoxically allowing cultural exchanges between China and the outside world. The concept of Empty (as opposed to Full) also refers to the Ying and Yang philosophy of interdependence of opposites present in all universal things. Even the organic shape of the bead cage placed over the child’s chair could be seen not only as a cocoon but also as one half of the Ying and Yang symbol. The various mediums used are also inspired by Eastern sciences and religion: the abacus beads are a clear reference to the ancient Chinese counting tool but also incorporate elements from the Buddhist rosary.

    Chen Zhen’s art questions and explores the ideas of exchanges and experimentations, fusion and associations between cultures, between peoples, between men and science, men and the world. In essence, Chen Zhen created the concept of Transexperience. According to the artist, Transexperience represents the inter-linkage of moving activities and thoughts within one’s life, and in the case of Chen Zhen himself, within his works of art. These exchanges are necessary to develop one’s identity. More generally, the flow and encounters of different ideas and points of view are the prerequisite to reach fulfillment in the world. This idea also relies on the Ying and Yang philosophy.

    The present work refers on many levels to Chinese traditional concepts and spiritualities, while using traditional Western conceptual practices of art vis-à-vis the installation. In today’s world of globalization, Chen Zhen questions the cultural stereotypes nascent in found objects, and his art resonates stronger then ever.


Cocon du Vide (Empty Cocoon)

Chinese abacus and Buddhist rosary beads, wooden highchair, brass prayer bell, and metal.
91 x 40 x 44 in. (231.1 x 101.6 x 111.8 cm).
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

£80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for £138,000

The Marino Golinelli Collection

13 October 2007, 1pm