Zhou Yan Contemporary Chinese Art Archive 周彦当代中国艺术档案
Bark paper and oil paint
Using a sheet of square bark paper as a support, Shen applied splashes of convoluted red oil paint. The dancing splashes could immediately draw the audience to recall the action paintings done by American contemporary artist Jackson Pollock -- the artistic/emotional expressions carried by spattering pigments. But retaining gazes on the Chinese painter's work for a bit longer, the oddly ordered splashes, as if following a set of alignments, quickly breaks the formal comparison with Shen's American colleague. The work, indeed, was likely to be produced with an innovative, but rather mechanical and calculated (especially comparing to Pollock), practice. First the artist applied some oil paint onto a canvas; while the paint is still wet and transmittable, Shen imposed the canvas onto a piece of bark paper. The canvas serves rather as a mould for printmaking than a support as in a "oil on canvas" painting. Shen then repeated the procedures until the bark paper was occupied by the printed splashes. (Note that research does not specify this work was made by this producing method, but the likelihood is large). What Shen's intricate, serried splashes achieved is a sense of detachment. To borrow a word from art writer Wu Liang "[that Shen's works] are incapable to be explained by external world. [...] that his works are opened innerly." Retrospections, constant reflections, and knowledge acquired within oneself might be the crux of Shen's matrix. But the detachment is less in a metaphysical sense, but "instead emerges from a self-contained or self-sufficient status. (Words of Zhou Yan)" (Zhou, "Maximalism or Complicity Amassed on Simplicity, from book "A History of Contemporary Chinese Art", 2020, p. 367); (Wu, Shen Fan's Space, 2014, "National Art", available on http://www.galleryek.com/attachment/en/559aad566aa72c9c3d07911a/Press/5bd1d3c90fdc508219e1a198); see also (Xiao, Maybe it's the Beauty of Parts, 2014, "National Art", available on http://www.galleryek.com/attachment/en/559aad566aa72c9c3d07911a/Press/5bd1d3c90fdc508219e1a198) (Jerry Wu'23).