Author: CHEN KE 陈可
Signed and dated: Painted in 2009
Final Price: RMB 1,400,000
signed in Chinese, dated 2009;
signed in Chinese (on the reverse)
When we didn’t have anything we were happier. Now that we have everything, we feel lonely.
As an artist born in the 1970s who has received much attention, Chen Ke has always been committed to expressing private emotions in the rapidly changing social environment through her unique perspective and delicate painting methods. Her painting style borrows from cartoons but maintains a clear distance from popular culture in a strict sense. The core is to portray the experience and understanding of social reality in the context of daily life. Her works are not only her autobiographical novels, but also collective biographies of her contemporaries. She managed to fuse her happy and sad childhood memories, growing pains and her refusal to grow up into pieces of age-old furniture and deformed cartoon characters, creating a fairy tale world. The artist once said: "The only escape is to believe that there is another world beyond the real world...Because it subconsciously provides me with a way to fight the fear of facing the shortness and fragility of this world."
"With You, I’ll never feel lonely" is a group of large-scale installations created by Chen Ke in 2007. In the spring of that year, Chen collected dozens of pieces of old furniture and personal belongings she had used from her home in Sichuan. After moving to her studio in Beijing, Chen turned all these old objects into "canvases", and then carefully painted figures in the molding paste over them. Through months of work, these old objects finally got integrated with her paintings to complete this huge group of installation works. The image of a cute little girl, named "Little K" by the artist, is a recurring theme of the works. Melancholy, introverted, never growing up, she is both the artist’s self-projection and the remembrance of lost childhood. By placing “Little K” in a variety of curious situations, Chen combined fragments of her half-illussory memories and real life and took viewers on a gripping, magical adventure between reality and illusion. "When I am painting, I feel like looking for myself, because my works are connected to my heart. Gradually I realize that there are lots of aspects to a person’s character. There is something deep in it." Chen said.
In "Happy New Year" created in 2009, two little girls hide under a Christmas tree and whisper to each other. Christmas tree is often seen as a symbol of family and friendship. As to family, Chen once said: "My family and I lived in a small house when I was little. The three of us spent a simple and happy time there. Now to me that period of time was filled with lightness and happiness compared to the stress and loneliness we now face, I really miss those days. But I knew I couldn’t just stay there for ever.” Without depth of field and shades from light and dark, this painting is marked by a strong surrealist style, like a mysterious, absurd and weird world. In the blue-gray background, there are blurred images of mountains. In the foreground, the Christmas tree seems to be suspended in mid-air. Its branches and leaves are luxuriant like it will never wither. With golden veins, scattered rhizomes and the bright star on the top, this Christmas tree also has a strong religious meaning and decorative function. The legs, skirts and shoes of the two little girls are presented in blocks of red, yellow, blue, and white. These bright colors contrast beautifully with the stars on the top, probably symbolizing a vivid memory. This painting constructs a brand-new visual art form by showing the alternation and conflict between reality and fantasy and expressing real feelings through virtual reality and fictional characters.