l: ‘crystal landscape of inner body’, 2000 r: ‘the ‘crystal landscape of inner body’, 2000

‘as an artist, my dream is to become a doctor. making art is all about looking at oneself, examining oneself and somehow seeing the world.’ so said chen zhen, who died in 2000 from a rare medical condition known as autoimmune hemolytic anemia. at the age of 25 he began to suffer from this anaemia and was given a prognosis of five years. confused he spent three months living with tibetan monks in a non-materialistic environment. his experience in tibet strengthened him physically and spiritually, providing him with inspiration, energy, and insight into life that fed his creativity. from early on it gave him a keen understanding and analytic perspective on the value of time and space.

both of chen’s parents were medical doctors, and also chen started first to study medicine. the understanding of his disease as an integral part of his being influenced all his considerations as an artist. he interwove aspects of his self-chosen exile, the human body, his illness, and chinese medical practices as metaphors to explore the complex and sometimes paradoxical interplay between the material and the spiritual, the communal and the individual, between inside and out.