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What you see might Not be Real

about Chen Wenling

Through a variety of surreal, often grotesque sculptures — most often executed in a bright monochrome red — Chen Wenling examines the rapid rise of consumerism in modern-day China and the fraught relationship with its more austere Communist past. Among the recurring characters in his work are emaciated young boys, pig-like humanoids, and obese demons, all of which the artist deploys to create his biting social satire. In one of his most known sculptures, entitled What you see might Not be Real, Chen levels a criticism at the global financial crisis, with the bull representing the golden bull of Wall Street and the man pinned to the wall representing the jailed financier Bernard Madoff.

Born in 1969 in Quanzhou, China to a poor family, he went on to study at Xiamen Academy of Art. He quickly found international critical and commercial success, with his work exhibited both within China and abroad at the Guangzhou Art Museum, the Duolun Museum of Modern Art, and Basel Switzerland. In 1999, Chen won the Venice Biennale’s top prize, the prestigious Golden Lion. He continues to exhibit around the world and lives and works in Beijing, China.

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