Proud Youth

Chen Wenling (China)


Title: Proud Youth
Artist: Chen Wenling (China)
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimensions (H x W x D): 5.5 x 3.3 x 2.6 m (18′ x 11′ x 8’6″)
Weight: 3,000 KG
Location: Seawall (False Creek North)

Chen Wenling’s art often deals with three themes: personal experience, human desire, and community imagination. His vocabulary usually includes exaggerated forms, bright colours, whimsical and metaphorical tones. Frequently using industrial materials, his works are modest and earthy, and always have a timeless quality. Following his ambitious solo exhibition in Beijing Mingsheng Art Museum, Duration of Allegories, Chen Wenling has brought his ‘Allegories’ to Vancouver, with two monumental sculptures featured in the Vancouver Biennale‘s Open Air Museum, The Proud Youth and Boy With Shark,  and an indoor exhibition at Sunzen Art Gallery, all curated by Michael Suh.

The Proud Youth is a representative piece of Chen Wenling’s Red Memories Series. It is named after a popular Wuxia (Martial Heroes) novel The Smiling, Proud Wanderer (Xiao Ao Jiang Hu 笑傲江湖), which in Chinese literally means to live a carefree life in a mundane world of strife and is always read as a political allegory. The bright red colour signifies not only auspiciousness in Chinese tradition, but also a testament to the artist’s fiery attitude towards life. The red figure, naked and free, fully reveals his honesty and fearlessness. Simple and truthful – this work creates a direct communication between man and nature, and initiates a sincere conversation between people and society. The cheeky expression and arresting pose are a celebratory call to the audiences, inviting them to embrace their inner child.