“I love Mother Nature. My dreams simply document the gifts she has given me.”
Born: 1955, Fushun, Liaoning. Lives and works in Hangzhou
Chen Haiyan has never followed trends. Ever since she was a student, she has been making pictures both personal and unworldly. Each one tells, in words as well as images, the story of a dream whose date forms the work’s title. This diary-art makes no comment on society or politics, but it began as a quiet rebellion against the politicised work that was demanded of Chen Haiyan at art school in the 1970s. And though it is about dreams, it looks anything but dreamlike. The acrylic-woodcuts, made by painting on and chipping into plywood, share the bold colours and slashing strokes of German Expressionist paintings. In the naturalness of their imagery and the diary-text that runs between and around the images, they also resemble illustrated Buddhist sutras. The fusion of techniques and the aura of both primitivism and religiosity give the works a powerful presence.