MFA Thesis Exhibit

Zihao Chen

Alfred-Düsseldorf Painting

Artist Statement

Personal memory, cultural background, political anxiety, and contradiction are inseparable dialogues in Zihao Chen’s painting practice. This year, the reaction to the political environment in China has become an essential part of his art in this new body of work. Chen used paper pulp as his primary formula, offering excellent flexibility in its physical form and the combination of pigments. At a conceptual level, paper pulp is closely related to information, knowledge, and art history. By transforming books, newspapers, magazines, and personal sketches into pulp through a blender, he creates abstract forms that carry a deeper meaning beyond materiality. This links to his recent criticisms of censorship and politics, as paper and pulp have long been associated with the dissemination and control of information. To further explore the impact of information and education on individual thought, he introduces elements such as book covers and chalkboards related to his memory. When displayed in a physical space, these paintings create a viewing experience that is both contradictory and dystopian. The fragility, roughness, and even grotesqueness of paper pulp, combined with the imagery of exploding books and ambiguous chalkboards, aim to evoke a sense of unease and disorientation.
Abstract dark green painting Click to view Abstract dark green painting Full-Screen

Zihao Chen // Chalkboard—New Chapter // Paper pulps, acrylic and white chalk on canvas // 55 x 149 inch

Blue canvas with white, green, and red spots Click to view Blue canvas with white, green, and red spots Full-Screen

Zihao Chen // Explosive Mentality // Paper pulp, book, book cover, water color, and house paint on canvas // 74 x 55 inch

Abstract blue painting Click to view Abstract blue painting Full-Screen

Zihao Chen // Deep Knowledge // Paper pulp, book, book cover, water color, and house paint on canvas // 47 x 40 inch

Rainbow abstract painting Click to view Rainbow abstract painting Full-Screen

Zihao Chen // Eye of Wind // Paper pulp and water color on canvas // 15 x 11 inch