Chen Zhiguang – Magic Spaces
06.02.2022 – 29.05.2022
Chen Zhiguang (born 1963 in Xiamen, China) is one of China’s most renowned sculptors and installation artists. He graduated from the Fine Arts Institute of Fujian University in 1988 and is currently a member of the Standing Committee of the China Sculpture Association, the Central Academy of Fine Arts of the City of Design School in China (Beijing) and a visiting professor at the Modern Art School of the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts. Since 2006, he has participated in international exhibitions in the USA, France, Germany and Sweden. The artist lives and works in Beijing and Fuzhou in Fujian Province, which celebrates its 33rd partnership anniversary with Rhineland-Palatinate in 2022.
Outwardly, his art is about ants and ancient trees, both important themes in traditional Chinese philosophy. But after a closer look at his works, it becomes clear that Chen Zhiguang creates in his art a parable for life in the state, as it were.
Chen Zhiguang lets his ant sculptures seize entire rooms. Seemingly in a never-ending flow and in constant motion, they crawl over every obstacle. As anthills, they have a threatening, almost nightmarish effect on the viewer. The artist lets his ants appear in different sizes and contexts, sometimes small in stainless steel, sometimes iridescently coloured, sometimes appearing oversized and large on squares and also varying here between highly polished stainless steel or bronze. Here, his ants symbolically and physically stand for the strength of the community, which can only emerge because the individual itself hardly plays a role. For Chen Zhiguang, the ants are a metaphor for a society in which everything is done to preserve the community, which therefore counts more than the individual, who appears grotesque and unnatural due to his oversized magnitude. From a sociological point of view, Chen Zhiguang offers reason to consider the idea of collective community, which, like ant colonies, is based on social hierarchies and precise codes of communication.
The depictions of gnarled, old tree trunks, which are formulated in Chen Zhiguang’s work as paintings, watercolours and sculptures, also symbolise the connection with nature, especially with the idea of literary gardens, which is held in particularly high esteem in traditional Chinese culture. Tree trunks, stalks and root systems show themselves as the energy centre of evolution.
The exhibition at the Ludwig Museum Koblenzevolves as an art based dialogue with the partner province of Fujian and continues a long series of important Chinese positions that have been shown at the Ludwig Museum since 2000. The exhibition is being created in close collaboration with the artist and with the support of the Kunstraum Villa Friede in Bonn.
CHEN ZHIGUANG Magischer Raum, Ameisen-Installation, ca. 700 Ameisen aus verschiedenen Metallen. Ausstellungsansicht Ludwig Museum Koblenz 2022 © Chen Zhiguang. Foto: Rebekka Welker