|Chen Qiulin, Garden - The Land Between Us, 2007.|
|Chen Qiulin, Garden no. 1, 2007.|
However, these works may also be interpreted as optimistic; the men are transporting these blooms in hopes of achieving an unyielding dream of a better future. I learned recently that this fuschia border lining red is a very specific shade called yanzi, or rouge. Chinese opera singers usually wear this color in the form of eyeshadow or blush, and it is a symbolic color of youth, vitality, and often specifically the disposition of women.
|Chen Qiulin, Peach Blossom, 2009.|
Stills from her film Peach Blossom laments the disappearance of culture with the passage of time. The artist herself assumes the subject of this work, donning a Westernized wedding gown. The newlywed couple looks with brooding disappointment and disconnected confusion at the reality of their surroundings.
|(left to right): Chen Qiulin, Twilight, 2009. Chen Qiulin, Peach Blossom, 2009.|
In Twilight, we essentially see three generations embodied by the figures in the foreground, and the vanishing point provides a sequential progression of time: The man standing in the back strides forward, confident in the future prospects of rebuilding. The couple clothed in Imperial-era dress look back in nostalgia at the decaying remains of an ancient building, realizing the "new world" holds no place for them. Finally, Chen Qiulin in the foreground turns away from the sad reality, lamenting a closure of the past and exhibiting uncertainty for the future.
Despite these sensitive topics, I find that Chen is able to dictate and challenge them with poetic romanticism and elegance. There are plenty of artists who comment on the illusory aspects of modernization, the rubbish and crime that results from rebuilding civilizations. Yet, Chen's works form beautiful, theatrical, epic narratives. Because of this, I admire her attitude of steadfast bravery instead of victimization and self-pity.