Taiwanese (b. 1963)
HARMONIZE WITHOUT COMPROMISE
bronze, height: 24 inches,
signed, numbered and dated "Li Chen 3/8 2000"
A Florida estate.
Li Chen is a living artist working in Taiwan and China. He is best-known for his monumental
sculptures of the Buddha that appear to float, despite their weight and size. Li Chen’s sculptures are
exhibited internationally and in 2007, he was invited to the 52nd Venice Biennale becoming the first
Asian artist to hold his own independent exhibition there.
Early in his career a Buddhist person complimented Chen’s realist painting, encouraging
him to explore other media. It was shortly after that he made his first sculpture of a Buddha.
He studied art at the National Dajia Industrial Senior High School and was influenced by
contemporaryTaiwanese artists including Chen Hsin-wan, Cheng Chiung-ming, Lee Chin-hsiu and
Huang Pu-ching. After finishing his required military service, Chen took a position in the workshop of sculptor HsiehTung-liang where he studied figurative sculpture.
His monumental figurative sculptures refer to Buddhist philosophy and contemporary art. He uses the finish of the bronze to create a mylar-balloon like surface evoking the softness of the figure. The figures have a “heavy yet light” presence, enhanced by their joyful, approachable appearance and monumental size.
In 2008, the National Art Museum of China hosted “In Search of Spiritual Space,” Chen’s first solo exhibition in Beijing, China including representative works from Chen’s career since 1998. A nearly 30-foot version of Harmonize without Compromise from 2000 was included. As in the present example, the Buddah is wearing silver headphones while standing on clouds. His closed eyes and soft smile indicate a state of peaceful meditation, a classic subject in Asian art.
In 2012, the Frye Art Museum in Seattle presented the first United States museum exhibition of Chen’s work, Li Chen: Eternity and Commoner. This exhibition brought Chen’s objective of spreading Eastern culture through sculpture to American audiences. A year later, the DiscoveryChannel aired a series titled Chinesenessfeaturing Chen as one of four artists profiled in the four-part series.