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Above + Below The Clouds: Chen Xiaowei

© Chen Xiaowei


The work of Boston-based Chinese artist Chen Xiaowei 陳篠薇 (b. 1978) encompasses a wide range of media, including video, painting and drawings on paper.  Through her work, she explores and expresses the intersections between the natural environment, natural disasters and human emotion.


© Chen Xiaowei


Above + Below The Clouds 雲上雲下, a solo exhibition of Chen’s work, curated by Xie Jiankun and currently on view at The Research House for Asian Art in Chicago, focuses on a variety of her large-scale drawings and paintings that juxtaposes open dreamlike imagery with intensely detailed realities.  She blends the real with the imaginary in her subject, style and technique; ranging from her film work as a video documentarian, to painstakingly intricate and minute anatomical ink pen drawings, to large abstract meditative paintings on canvas.


© Chen Xiaowei


The centerpiece of the exhibition is Detached Clouds, a 23-meter long scroll which took the artist almost two years to complete; half a year to plan, and another full year to physically accomplish.  At one end and suspended close to the ceiling, the fabric has been dyed a striking blue color that reaches physically and symbolically towards the sky, while the opposite end of the scroll, suspended just slightly above the ground, is a detailed rendering of a wintry mountainous landscape.  What lies in the middle of the scroll is less specific, but no less detailed in Chen’s repeated layering of delicate pencil lines and markings that weave and hatch, gradually loosening in pattern.  Here too, in this space between heaven and earth, does not our own realities loosen and become conflicted, gray and muddled?  In viewing her work, our certainties become questions.


© Chen Xiaowei


Above + Below The Clouds, a solo exhibition of the work of Chen Xiaowei, at The Research House for Asian Art in Chicago, is now on view through April 5, 2013.


Jacqueline Chao


One Response to “Above + Below The Clouds: Chen Xiaowei”
  1. says:

    I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!

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