on chen jin's works


Shift of Magic Realism

Chen Mo


Having known Chen Jin for 27 years, I silently watched his creating process at a moderate distance. This is the first time that I wholly entered his world of art, and so I could not restrain myself from expressing my feelings. 

Once upon a time, official associations predominated photography circles. However, as these organizations targeted the public with little regard for standards, such as only organizing some primary cultural-entertaining activities which had nothing to do with “art”, and did nothing to encourage the creation of excellent art works. Nowadays, as technology develops rapidly, producing a clear photo is no longer a problem. But similar to painting, a poor work in terms of artistic sense would always be poor, no matter how clear it is. On the contrary, a number of excellent works are usually vague and blurred. 

Some people point that there is a “realistic orientation” in Chen Jin’s works, but it needs more discussion. His latest work series, Inspiration, involved in a religious scene, which lost all the sublime sense of order and solemnity while left in desolation, wasteland, and vileness. He has adopted a method of magic revisionism which is highly conceptual and surreal. Here, the reality he created mingles with the real existence, the magic distorts the reality, the revision shields the reality, but the reality has already changed, the logic of his objects has already been displaced. In terms of visual art and literary art, Realism was a cultrual movement in the 19th century that originated in France. It also contains the meaning of “copying reality”, indicating that when we cognize the world, our perception and understanding of the objects is exactly the same as their independent existence. In the context of art creation, it means giving an accurate, detailed and unpolished description of nature or contemporary life. Realism disagrees with ideal imagination, instead, it advocates a close observation of the appearance of things. As an exotic concept, Realism came to China and integrated into Chinese politics and ideology, this pairing formed an artistic language and thought obsessed with creating a precise copy of objects. This parochialism, not only deviates from the original intention of Realism, but also holds back modern Chinese photographers. Chen Jin resorts to his own wisdom and practice, distinguishing himself from the mediocre mainstream, being firmly confident and strong. 

May 2013, at Fangcaodi, Chengdu