As a child of China in the 1980s, Chen Hongzhu grew up in the middle of a storm. The old communist order has been swept away, and for a generation of only children caught in the current of consumerism, the effect is disorientating to say the least. Chen’s new series of paintings continues her exploration of this experience through her series of china doll portraits.
Beneath the surface run strong sexual undercurrents. Chen’s girls may dress up as bunny rabbits through a child-like innocence, but the Playboy motif and its allusions are never far away. This clash of agendas – the desire for the soft comforts of innocence on one side, the harsh machinations of self-interest on the other – form Chen’s principal framework. Her bittersweet images draw strong parallels with the experience of contemporary Chinese society, seen from the perspective of a young woman getting to grips with the way the rough world works, and keeping her optimism in the face of adversity.