Dr. T.F. Chen’s place in art History
(below shows some of text book images feature T.F. Chen’s Art Work and Philosophy)
“Tsing-fang Chen’s work bears on issues of global importance today. He is an artist whom history has invited into a more complex and composite role than the traditional Modernist role of the master esthetician. Like certain others of this moment he sees the world of the artist in a broader sense than that, overlapping with the activities of the philosopher, the social scientist, the historian, and the cultural theorist. The present moment in history needs the mediation of cultural pastiche to facilitate the emergence of a global art awareness that may prepare the way for a global sense of human identity. This type of mediation happens frequently in Chen’s paintings.”
— Dr. Thomas McEvilley, Renowned Professor & Art Critic
The Post-Modern Art of T.F. Chen: “Images of a Global Humanity,” 1990
Dr. T.F. Chen is a master artist who has been featured in the narrative of art history. He is considered one of the pioneers of Post-Modern Art in the 1970’s and has also been recognized as “one of the 20 most influential artists in the world today” (Dr. & Prof. Thomas McEvilley, art critic).
In 1969, Dr. Chen established his “Five-Dimensional World Culture”in theory and his Neo-Iconography style. It was daring at that time, as he broke away from utilizing “art for art’s sake” and evolved instead into utilizing “art for humanity’s sake.” Borrowing images and icons from throughout Eastern culture, Western culture and the bank of art history, Dr. Chen juxtaposed them in meaningful and startling ways, transforming them into profound visions of cultural harmony and global solidarity. As a forerunner of globalization, through his art and his lectures, Dr. Chen urged our upcoming age to progress towards a peaceful and flourishing “Global New Renaissance in Love.”
Besides being an unparalleled fine artist, Dr. Chen is also an academic with a Ph.D in Art History from La Sorbonne, a humanitarian with a Global Tolerance Award from the Friends of the United Nations, and a prolific writer who has published 26 books on his art and cultural theories. Because of his achievements and innovation, Dr. Chen and his art have been featured in more than 300 text books in more than 30 countries, including the widely–used, university-level art history textbook Arts & Ideas, 9th edition published by Harcourt Brace. Alongside 12 other renowned living world artists (whose works all boast astronomical market prices), Dr. Chen is the only living artist featured in the “Globalism” section (p. 685-687). He is also the only living Asian artist in the entire book.
In New York magazine (1986 May issue), Dr. Chen’s work was featured alongside Andy Warhol’s famous silkscreen Golden Marilyn (worth USD 13.5 million), as well as other famous contemporary artists such as Robert Rauschenberg. Dr. Jan Hulsker, the world-renowned expert on Vincent van Gogh, called Dr. Chen “the Reborn Van Gogh!” when he viewed Chen’s “Post – Van Gogh Series” that he had created in celebration of the Van Gogh Centennial.
Thus, Dr. Chen’s powerful artworks are not only executed with precision and passion, fine aesthetics and wit, but also possess fundamental, cultural and historical value. Unlike many artists who depend on shock value or passing fads, Dr. Chen’s style is sourced from a deep theoretical philosophy based on love and concern for our human family, and backed by the maturity of over a half-century of deep study, thought, and cultivation.
At the distinguished age of 74, Dr. Chen is enjoying a surge of mastery, brilliance and productivity as all the countless seeds he’s sown in the last half-century are coming to bear fruit.
A Look At Art History
Throughout Western art history, there are a number of art schools which merely differ in subject matter, techniques, and styles other than theories. The exceptions are the Surrealist movement and the Abstract movement (especially the latter). In 1912, Kandinsky published “The Essence of Art,” laying the theoretic foundation for abstract art. Abstract art can be found as early as ancient times, such as in symbolic carvings, children’s scribbling and even the “drawings” made by an elephant’s trunk with a crayon can be considered as abstract art. Yet the modern abstract art move-ment didn’t come into full bloom until after Kandinsky transformed it with extensive study and theoretical analysis. This demonstrates the significance of theory to art.
Dr. T.F. Chen’s “Five-Dimensional World Culture” theory is universal to all cultures, and his Neo-Iconography art is the theoretical extension in visual art of that theory. As we know, three dimensional space consists of length, width and height; and Da Vinci can be seen as the main artist who transformed Western art from the two-dimensional flat world into a rich, three-dimensional world. Time can be seen as a fourth dimension, and Picasso and Kandinsky can be seen as leaders in enabling the fourth dimension of Time to enter into arthistory, as the subjects in their canvases twist and turn and move. In this same sense, Dr. Chen can be seen as the pioneer that has been undertaking artistic experiments into the five-dimension world culture since the 1960’s.
In Dr. Chen’s theory, we need to evolve past four-dimensional culture (which focuses on material reality and power) into the Fifth Dimension — which would integrate and reconfigure time and space with the god-essence — with spirit, intellect, and divine love. It would incorporate this god-essence, the Tao, the Buddha, Spirit – as the core of our human family’s development. Thus Chen asserts:
We need a culture based on LOVE instead of POWER, HUMANISM instead of MATERIALISM, HEART instead of MACHINE, CREATION instead of PRODUCTION, and HAPPINESS instead of WEALTH; a culture of TO BE (and TO LOVE) instead of TO HAVE, not just HARDWARE, SOFTWARE, but also SOULWARE…
This cultural theory is manifested perfectly in Dr. Chen’s “Neo-I” artstyle. All of his artworks possess a humanistic concern and express an ideal vision for our upcoming age. Thus, Dr. Chen invites artists to take a wider role in history, as well as in our future, not just concentrating on “art for art’s sake,” but instead evolving into an “art for humanity’s sake.”