Born in Shanghai, China, 1955. Lived in Paris, France, 2000.
Chen Zhen was a visual artist. At a very young age he became interested in the links between traditional Chinese philosophy and Western culture. He studied at the Shanghai School of Fine Arts and Crafts (1973), where he started teaching in 1976. At the age of twenty-five Chen Zhen was struck by an incurable illness, hemolytic anemia, an experience which gave him vast insight into the value of time and space at a strong analytical level. On his arrival in France in 1986, Chen Zhen left painting aside and focused on installation art. In Paris he studied at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and at the Institut des Hautes Études en Arts Plastiques. His work then developed according to a transcultural school of thought, a concept that the artist called ‘Transexpérience’, based on the relationship between Man, consumer society and Nature. About two years before his death, the artist decided to study traditional Chinese medicine and distilled this knowledge in his final works dealing with the dialogue between body and spirit, Man and the Universe. Between 1990 and 2000 he received six grants from French and American art institutions. Since Chen’s death his work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at Musée Guimet, Paris (2010–2011), La Danse de la Fontaine Emergente, Public commission by la Ville de Paris, Place Augusta Holmes, Rue Paul Klee, Paris 13e, permanent installation (2008), MART, Rovereto (2008), Kunsthalle, Wien (2007), Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2003), PAC, Milan (2003), P.S.1, New York (2003), Serpentine Gallery, London (2001), GAM, Turin (2000).
Chen Zhen in his first studio in Rue des Haies, Paris, 1989. Photo by Xu Min. Image courtesy GALLERIA CONTINUA, San Gimignano / Beijing / Les Moulins / Habana