Chen Zhen - Contemporary Art London Thursday, June 21, 2007 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Krinzinger, Austria; Private collection, New York

  • Literature

    J. Martin, ed., Chen Zhen, Milan 2003, p. 108; E. Heartney, Chen Zhen's Legacy, Art in America, Feb. 2003;

  • Catalogue Essay

    Chen Zhen was born in Shanghai in 1955 and moved to Paris in 1986, where he attended the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and the Institut des Hautes Études en Arts Plastiques. Coming from a family of medical professionals, he was fascinated by cross-cultural interaction and influences and Eastern and Western medical practice and theory, and toward the end of his life began to study medicine. In an ironic twist, he died of autoimmune hemolytic anemia, a rare medical condition, in 2000 at the age of 45.

    Composition for Crystal Landscape of Inner Body is one of the artist’s works on paper done in conjunction with his monumental sculpture Crystal Landscape of Inner Body. The sculpture, which was been exhibited at New York’s P.S. 1 in 2002 and the Institute of Contemporary Art in 2003, consists of eleven major internal organs of the human body sculpted in glass and resting upon a surgical bed. It reflects the differing approaches of Eastern and Western medicine—the former based on a holistic philosophy of balance, the latter on scientific empiricism and technology. The present lot illustrates the artist’s rendering of the large intestine and lung and their respective functions in relation to the functioning of the entire body. On the importance of the artist’s understanding and exploiting of context, Chen says:

    The Chinese are a people who attach the most importance to the context. From time immemorial, the highest thinking mode and operating secret, in science or in art, are none other than the method of ‘attacking by the flanks’ or ‘preaching Buddhism in a roundabout way’… All these practices are treating diseases in the context of the entire body. In the sphere surrounding an object, there are many oftentimes invisible objects and elements. In today’s creation, not only should we consider the problem of expanding the concept of artistic works, but also develop the cognition of the scope and implications of the context. (Z. Chen, quoted in J. Martin, ed., Chen Zhen, Milan 2003, p. 108).


Composition for Crystal Landscape of Inner Body

Ink on paper.
39 x 27 in. (99.1 x 68.6 cm).
Signed and dated "Chen 09/00" upper right.

£15,000 - 20,000 

Sold for £15,600

Contemporary Art

22 June 2007, 4pm & 5pm