Art Asia Pacific: Between the Lines

China 2000
May 2004


…Constructed out of the same materials – white paper, black ink and wax, the new work might be considered painting and sculpture, collage and relief. Of these, the two most imposing are the wall paintings, Keep In/Keep Out and Lost Ones, inspired by the Great Wall of China. Made of heavy cotton rag paper, the support is pocked with bold, black markings to create a staccato abstract pattern that seeps through to form another image on the reverse side. Lost Ones is assembled out of torn, jagged sections of paper pieced together like flattened stones and affixed directly onto the wall, with areas left open that look like chinks in the construction, which are sometimes blackened in. Photocopied, laser-printed, or stamped onto the surface of the wall, whorled fingerprints in varying dimensions, from life-sized to greatly enlarged, make up much of the imagery of Keep In/Keep Out. They function, perhaps, as signs of specific identities or refer to the sense of touch as identifier, fingers that distinguish and determine textures and shapes, that make and prop up. Shen’s ingenious, three-dimensional pieces resemble other objects, such as scholar stones or a flowering globe, and are formed from paper reinforced with burnished wax, held together and stiffened with polymer glue.

May 1, 2004