Tianzhuo Chen


Video still from "19:53". Copyright Tianzhuo Chen.

"19:53", Single channel HD video, 2015 & "Scapegoat 02", Object on pillars, 2016

The kitschy, neon grotesquerie of Chinese artist Tianzhuo Chen takes its cues from a sprawling range of influences—from LGBTQ hip hop to the London rave scene, Japanese Butoh, New York vogue, manga, and the fashion world.

In the dreamy and grotesque video work "19:53", Chen reimagines tradition by mixing ceremonies and symbols found in religion, fashion, LGBT, BDSM, voguing, rave, and other global subcultures in order to transcend body and spirit. Supported by music from Yico, the video searches for a "state of madness" and celebrates a new mythology by carefully choreographing burlesque creatures obsessed with hedonism.

With "Scapegoat 02", Chen translates musical rituals into art by arranging costumes, masks and objects from his performance with Aïsha Devi within CTM Festival’s nighttime music programme, as holy relics. What once was part of a crazy and loud performance, in the end remains a silent sculpture charged with the aura of a mythical past.

Tianzhuo Chen earned his degree in graphic design from the Central St Martins College of Art and Design in 2009, and went on to obtain an MA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art and Design in 2011. Working across the mediums of painting, drawing, installation, video and performance, Chen borrows and corrupts religious and pop-culture iconography to generating new systems of meaning and subversive, hyper-sexualized representations of global youth culture. "Our fascination with pop culture is really like some kind of worship," he says. "I create ephemeral temples in different places in order to question the fragility of our contemporary lives and dwindling morality and beliefs."

Chen's first solo exhibition was presented at Palais de Tokyo in Paris in 2015 and featured performances with artist and dancer Beio and French collective House of Drama. Other recent projects include "PICNIC PARADI$E BITCH" at Bank Gallery, Shanghai (2014) and "Tianzhuo Acid Club" at Star Gallery, Beijing (2013), and he has worked on collections shown during Fashion Week in London and Shanghai. He currently lives and works in Beijing.