Chen was born in Penghu in 1963. He graduated from the western painting group in the Fine Arts Department, Chinese Culture University in 1986. He was awarded the Taipei Arts Award in 1995 and the LI Chung-Shen Foundation Visual Art Awards in 2009. He has taught at several schools, such as National Taichung University of Education, Department of Fine Arts at Tunghai University and Graduate Program of Fine Arts at National Taiwan University of Arts. Presently he serves as an associate professor in the interior design group, Department of Construction Engineering, De Lin Institute of Technology. A pioneering conceptual photographer in Taiwan, he excels in bringing back to life those old everyday photos and images. By appropriating them to his works, he turns them into new subjects of aesthetic appreciation. After all, as a “boy from Fungkuei” (note: this term derives from a famous Taiwanese film about several youngsters in Penghu), how could he not have created so many references to his homesickness and expressed such profound affections for his hometown, even though Taiwan is not far from Penghu?
Family photos and images from personal life have play essetial roles in the art works of CHEN Shun- Chu. In his work, the images function as a channel toward the past. Where the prviate experience communicates with collective experiences through this channel, where different viewers could find different segments within, that are meaningful only to themselves, but also redefining the works each time. The works of Chen allows a sneak peek of the prototype of meomories via his empathic approach: everything would be receded, transforming into iconic indicator, waited to be rewriten every once in a while. In the current of memroies, the boundary between life and death, between past and now is thus no longer obvious.
Personal memories are fascinating in their own right because they are ambiguous and ridden with meanings. But it is not the images resembling old individual or family photos that make CHEN Shunju’s artworks attractive and contagious, but because they respond to the reshaping of Taiwan’s subjectivity in post martial-law times. Using photography installations and clips of family life, Chen invites viewers to recall a collective past. After all, collective memories are composed of individual memories. Moreover, Chen’s photos, removed of their original contexts, bring the constructionality and complexity of memories to a farther, vaster and more diverse level. It is true that Chen has found a way for us to feel the warmth of memories. But perhaps we should better put it this way: out of a modern life in which we are overwhelmed by information, the artist has forged an artistic approach which allows us to get near and show the core of memory. Chen’s approach is a strongly contemporary one.
In fact, portraits of a family are not Chen’s only references. In his artistic landscape, land, ruins, plants, old furniture, manmade objects, old fishing boats and family wastes can all serve as objects of observation. These objects are removed of their contexts and serve as containers that can carry the viewers’ collective memories. The photos are not complete until viewers have studied and redefined the objects and come up with their own interpretations. But, despite these objects are left to viewers’ discretion, one can still get a glimpse of people’s lives in Taiwan, find the elements and clues that bring people’s memories together, and eventually delve into a deep, collective social mindset. Embedded in a complex backdrop, CHEN Shun-Ju’s artworks poetically reveal a volatile combination of history, memory and life’s narrative. His style is strongly nomadic, but his photos have enabled us to take a closer look of ourselves and develop a more exuberant subjectivity.
|English title：||The Wind Remembers: January the 3rd of Lunar Calendar|
|Medium / Classification：||Mixed Media|
|Life-span：||1963 - 2014|
|Collection Unit：||Collection of the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts|
|Contact method for authorization：||
Guide to the Use of Image Files and Data from the Online Collection Database
|Related Exhibition：||"The Pioneers" of Taiwanese Artists, 1961-1970|