Li Chen: Mind.Body.Spirit.

Li Chen: Mind.Body.Spirit.
Singapore Art Museum (SAM)
17 September to 9 December 2009

Li Chen


The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) is proud to present Li Chen: Mind.Body.Spirit. Li Chen’s powerful, large-scale bronzes fuse Eastern philosophy and mythology with contemporary art practice. The exhibition offers a significant body of work spanning Li’s artistic practice from 1992 to the present. The artist’s exploration of harmony and Chan (more popularly known as Zen) spirituality may be experienced as one embarks on the sculpture trail which begins from the inner courtyards of the Singapore Art Museum and into the gardens of the National Museum of Singapore and the Singapore Management University Campus Green.

The exhibition will be opened by Professor Gao Minglu from the University of Pittsburgh at 6:30 pm, at SAM Glass Hall. The media preview led by Curator of the exhibition, Ms. Tan Hwee Koon in the presence of the artist, will be held on Thursday, 24 September, 11:00 am at the Singapore Art Museum.

In conjunction with the exhibition, a roundtable discussion featuring a range of panelists such as renowned scholar and curator Professor Gao Minglu, Ms. Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, Director of the Frye Art Museum, Seattle, U.S.A., Ms. Peini Beatrice Hsieh, Director of Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan and Director of The National Art Gallery Singapore, Mr Kwok Kian Chow have been invited to respond to the theme On the Spiritual in Art: Is there a place for the transcendental in contemporary sculpture? The roundtable discussion takes place on Saturday, 26 September, 10:00 am at the SAM Auditorium. More details on background of speakers and their topics can be found in Annex B.

Li Chen: Mind. Body. Spirit is the coming together of both the physical and non-physical aspects of Li Chen’s works – encompassing the material and the spiritual. The artist’s 21 works (25 sculptures) on display are presented from four series: The Beauty of Emptiness (1992 to 1997), Energy of Emptiness (1998 to 2000), Spiritual Journey through the Great Ether (2001 to present) and Soul Guardians (2008 to present). These sculptures are situated at prominent locations within the Bras Basah/Bugis district namely, the Singapore Art Museum, the Land Transport Authority sites above the Mass Rapid Transit stations, the Campus Green of the Singapore Management University, and under the Banyan tree of the National Museum of Singapore.

Li Chen is regarded as one of the leading sculptors working in Asia today. His powerful, large-scale bronzes fuse Chan (more popularly known as Zen) thought with contemporary art practice. Li, who lives and works in both Shanghai and Taiwan, began his largely self-taught career by producing traditional Buddhist sculptures. In the 1990s, he freed himself from the restraints of the traditional canon while retaining a profound spirituality in his work. This was further deepened through his study of scriptures in Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. In 2007, a large scale exhibition of Li Chen’s work was presented at the 52nd Venice Biennale and in 2008, his work was recognised at a major solo exhibition titled In Search of Spiritual Space at The National Art Museum of China in Beijing.

Says, the Artist, Li Chen, “We live in a highly complex and volatile age. There is a deep spiritual poverty within humanity – they are spiritually lost and confused souls. Art is not merely a record of life and its activities, but is also a valuable form of spiritual healing.”

Says, Director of Singapore Art Museum, Mr. Tan Boon Hui, “The fusion of Eastern mythology and philosophy with Western contemporary art practice is clearly seen in all of Li Chen’s 25 sculptures. Although his work sets a contemporary tone, the underlying concepts leading to the creation of his sculptures are predominantly based on the artist’s study of Confucianist, Buddhist and Taoist scriptures He successfully marries the spiritual and the material to produce artworks of grandeur. The Singapore Art Museum would also like to thank key partners who have made this exhibition possible: the Land Transport Authority, the Singapore Management University and the National Museum of Singapore.”

Says, President, of Singapore Management University, Professor Howard Hunter, “As a resident in Singapore’s historic Bras Basah district, Singapore Management University is mindful of the area’s vibrant heritage as a culturally rich civic centre. I am honoured that we are able to play a role in hosting this exhibition together with the Singapore Art Museum. We welcome everyone to freely come by to experience contemporary art on our Campus Green.”

Singapore Art Museum (SAM)