Many art critics consider Chen’s works as ecological art. His artworks encourage viewers to look at books from a whole new perspective. The usage of recycled materials to make art is a commentary on the waste of human consumption accompanied by the ecological problems of garbage disposal, the mindless destruction of forests, and the rampant devouring of non-renewable resources. It is also a mourning to the pre-digital era of bound books.
Chen’s works are greatly influenced by Zen Buddhism, for their concepts of non-dependence on words and letters and their disregard to authority. His works are also a reflection on postmodernists’ ideas that are popular today. Overwhelmed by novel Western theories, Chen finds release through the act of “destroying books to create art” – the artist uses chain and band sews to destroy books, bringing forth a direct conflict between man and words. This act of destruction unleashes him to think without language, eliminating the abstract and ambiguous arguments which language produces and allowing him to engage in a personal experience with books as a material and medium.
This September, America-based Taiwan-born sculptor Chen Long-bin will return to Plum Blossoms Gallery for his latest solo exhibition to unveil new additions to his ‘Reading Sculpture’ series. ‘Reading Sculpture’ is Chen’s best-known series, which began in the early-nineties. The works display Chen’s skillful transformation of out-of-date books, newspapers, magazines, and computer paper into art that, when viewed from a distance, appears to be made of wood or marble. Each seemingly solid work is actually paper, with each page still loose and readable even after the sculpting process.
This “Icon & Idea” exhibition will showcase Chen’s newest creations of historical icon busts alongside his signature Buddha sculptures. Iconography has been a common subject in Eastern and Western religious art, yet one sees less of it in modern art creations. With the insertion of cultural issues into his iconographic rendition of historical figures, Chen hopes to bring a contemporary approach to this age-old subject matter, using art as a form to discuss the hidden cultural implications of iconography.