With an extraordinarily assorted creative practice, Taiwanese painter-sculptor-potter-designer-and-teacher Chen Nienying spins many plates. After studying ink painting, Chen soon discovered a dislike and impatience for Eastern Gouache telling us “I found its process is too complicated for me to draw, I wanted to paint immediately!” Moving on to a concoction of pencil, watercolour and oil pastels, Chen found her stride – now producing work at a prolific rate.
What’s most striking about Chen’s work however is its innate harmony between aesthetic, medium and subject matter, striking a balance between the quaint and the familiar, alongside the unusual and challenging. With the majority of her work coming from the same influence, Chen tells us: “most of my paintings are about the windows in Taiwan,” finding the scenes of Taiwanese streets a compelling landscape. “It’s not neat at all,” Chen describes, “a combination of many flat parts, like advertising boards or fake material stickers... It looks like a stage or a pop-up card.” In the creation of her fascinating and complex tableaus, Chen gives us a conceptual glance through her window; showing the viewer the abstract world she sees through anomalous, detached scenes, collated together to tell an intricate story of reality, honesty and truth.
Another part of Taiwanese life is the use of shrines, employing them to “worship god or ancestors at their home,” the artist tells us. Fascinated by this concept, Chen’s recent series Happy Shrine (快樂龕) explores as such through sculpture and light, using a variety of different materials to create a visceral and tactile experience rife with colour, texture and uncomfortable form.
Incredibly achieved during the Covid-19 pandemic, Chen has not slowed down, even producing a micro exhibition for a cat cafe and currently learning to tattoo on herself, adding “it’s a precious medium to me.”
Chen Nienying: Untitled (Copyright © Chen Nienying, 2020)
About the Author
After graduating from Winchester School of Art, studying graphic arts, Harry worked as a graphic designer before joining It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in March 2020. He nows works as a freelance writer and designer, and is one half of Studio Ground Floor.