Preface by the Curator
In November’s international art season in Shanghai, unlike those fancy shows and grand art exhibitions, “Tears on the sea” is more like the exhibition which appears in the old space of Kyoto, or in the second-hand bookstore of Taipei, or in the Hutong of Beijing, or in the alley in Shanghai. Such an exhibition will let the visitors consider the changes of the world, feel the temperature of the this era, and see the details and emotions that are easy to be ignored in society.
Zipeng Chen is a sensitive person. On one hand, she can subtly observe people and presents stories. On the other hand, she elaborately creates small pictures to form a large group images. It’s like organizing a “Brotherhood around us” with people and stories as pixels. Her paintings form a “small universe”, which is “108 stories about us” in Zipeng’s words. Even Shi Naian may not be evenly depicted on 108 characters in his novel “The Water Margin”. “108” is not a small number that is about the power of ordinary. There are 108 stories behind the 108 portraits she painted.The meaning in it is very similar to the novel “The Water Margin”, but they are very different. The faces of these 108 charaters make us feel familiar but strange, we have seen them and we don’t seem to know them. Maybe many of the people we meet in urban life are like this at last. Sometimes, when we face our own era and the city we live in, we often think that we know what we are familiar with, but the reality tells us that we know nothing about them. It’s really difficult to summarize the”108 stories”, because what’s really interesting is the story behind each portrait. Every story is different, which is exactly the meaning of the work.
The title of the exhibition has changed from “108 stories about us” to “the Tears on the sea”. It reminded me of Chiang Yee, who has traveled around the world and used painting as a way of recording in Boston, Oxford, Japan.And also Eileen Chang’s novel The Sing-song Girls of Shanghai and Jin Yucheng’s novel Fan Hua are about people living in Shanghai. Zipeng records people’s affairs with painting, reflecting our times and life. Welcome friends from Shanghai or other places to the exhibition. You may find yourself in her “universe”.
Last year when I painted this series, I shuttled through the streets with a bag of markers and created these portraits in Cafe and bookstore in Shanghai, because it could make me feel the people living in this city, their anxiety and hesitation, happiness and loss. And I also noticed that there were some strange people here, in our city. I didn’t have to draw the person around me.Maybe I suddenly thought of a friend, and then tried to fifind the photos to recall his or her image for supporting recreation.
Once, in the middle of the night, I was trapped by a storm in a convenience store near the Bund. Suddenly, inspiration came to me. And there were tables and chairs for customers to rest in. Then I spent the rest of the night painting there. After that, when the rain stopped, I took a walked by the Huangpu River. For the fifirst time, I saw the unilluminated Bund which was still beautiful after removing makeup .
The number of fifigures in this series of paintings is up to 108. In ancient Chinese literature, the number 108 symbolizes the heroes of Liangshan. They are both common people and heroes. They are full of social ideals and die tragically. I drew social roles from all walks of life, including designer, stewardess, uncle next door, rock singer, cyberstar girl… In them, the more carefully you look, the more uncommon you can see. It’s not entirely visual based, but a record of contemporary fifigures, As the fifigures’ inner play, the texts beside the painting make me feel like a director making the interview programs.A painting of the society, an adventure of people’s hearts. Many sounds are born not only in outside world, but also in the heart. As for why I drew with markers: Although my major is oil painting in CAFA, today’s people give me the feeling that it’s not like Gu Kaizhi’s classic beauty and thoughtful immortal, nor the people in the world of dignifified and elegant oil painting, we are the brisk Marker generation.
Besides, these two video works are my fifirst attempt to have a relationship with music. One of the video is about last year, I recalled my childhood memory of the songs of marriage and funeral in the Hunan village from the lingering affection of Baudelaire’s poems. This year，I cooperation with composer Ken Ueno, Professor of UC Berkeley. And I tried to go to the public environment to record performance with video, used voice as a medium of creation.
There are so many things I can do in art. I feel like I meet the world again and again as the new life.
About the exhibition
Curator: Duan Shaofeng
Dates: Nov 23, 2019 – Jan 3, 2020
Venue: DAplus Space
Courtesy of the artist and DAplus Space.