Chen Wei: Slumber Song (Ben Brown Fine Arts London)

Chen Wei: Slumber Song (Ben Brown Fine Arts London)

anonymous station - suppressed scenery by chen wei

Chen Wei

Anonymous Station - Suppressed Scenery, 2007

anonymous station - scratch under the shadow by chen wei

Chen Wei

Anonymous Station - Scratch Under the Shadow, 2007

cage or sonata by chen wei

Chen Wei

Cage or Sonata, 2008

one more cup of afternoon tea by chen wei

Chen Wei

One More Cup of Afternoon Tea, 2009

method of slumber by chen wei

Chen Wei

Method of Slumber, 2009

rental service by chen wei

Chen Wei

Rental Service, 2009

Wednesday, April 30, 2014Thursday, June 5, 2014

52 Brook’s Mews
London, United Kingdom

PRIVATE VIEW Tuesday, 29th April, 6 - 8pm

This spring Ben Brown Fine Arts presents Slumber Song, the first solo exhibition in the UK of contemporary Chinese photographer Chen Wei. Currently living and working in Beijing, the spirit of his work resonates with a new generation of emerging Chinese artists using photography as an instrument to capture human encounters with a rapidly developing China. Distinct from their 'New Wave' predecessors who place political and social criticism at the core of their artistic message, Chen Wei andhis contemporaries focus on intellectual freedoms and the individual's place in modern China. Chen Wei's photographs are visually enigmatic, characterised by uncompromising technical virtuosity and the elaborate scenes he creates.

The exhibition will feature some of Chen Wei’s mo st impressive still life photographs, the finest examples of his exacting approach to constructing a scene. In The Raven Zoar (2008), Chen Wei has carefully arranged each object in an eerie, cage - like setting, triggering feelings of anxiety and claustropho bia. Similarly the juxtaposition of objects in Cage or Sonata (2007) makes for an unsettling yet oddly beautiful image where, as in so many of his works, human presence is felt but not depicted.

Before physically constructing each scene Chen Wei makes el aborate sketches, choreographing each vital element into a surreal studio - like diorama. In his use of found and natural materials such as taxidermy, broken glass and rocks, the eccentricities of early investigations into science, alchemy, and philosophy ar e echoed. Hinting at the academic compositions of a Northern Renaissance master though often surprising in their subject matter, these pieces push traditional references into new, visceral directions.

Chen Wei is fascinated by human fa miliarity with ever yday objects and frequently dramatises these relationships in his meticulous compositions. His Coins s eries and A Boy in the Fountain Basin (2012) give muddied coins, tossed ritualistically into pools and fountains, a new, et hereal quality. In these images Chen Wei depicts the complex relationship humans hold with their discarded items , explaining ‘I wish the coins were about the present, about dream and loss.’ One More Cup of Afternoon Tea (2009), coupling old cigarette butts with a blooming rose, similarl y contrasts ideas of abandonment and renewal.

Interpretations that contradict and compete with one another are inherent in all of Chen Wei’s works and are reflected in the exhibition ti tle. He describes Slumber Song as a reference to a song about sleep, a lullaby, but als o to a melody inducing a paralys ing apathy . Method of Slumber (2009), with a metronome symbolis ing the passing of time, encapsulates this soporific atmosphere.

Chen Wei is a teller of unfinished stories. Fascinating in their open - endedne ss, his carefully fabricated scenes and cryptic titles contain numerous possible narratives for the viewer to unveil. Though often challenging, his diverse works make for compulsive viewing.