Chen Ruo Bing's minimalist works are characterized by the construction of a very specialized spatial atmosphere through the ingenious organization and structure of color and form. In this reasoned and regulated visual structure, there is a feeling of controlled expression. The object has been reduced and simplified right down to its essence, leading the painting to reveal purity of form and perceptual richness.

In Chen Ruo Bing's paintings, there are usually two main color tones, the two mutually employed to create a particular visual result. Each color contains its own personal specialized identity, with the combination of two colors expressing the clash of two identities, whilst maintaining their distinct visual and perceptual individualities and uniqueness. The apparent difficulty in such an approach is in how to use a limited color to express a certain form of wisdom and how to transcend the purity of visual acceptance. This can only be realized in an environment defined by mutual influence. The temperature and volume of a color are both controlled to a point of pro-activeness. Though it seems as if there are only two colors, if one looks very closely at the canvas, another layer is revealed, one of infinitesimal difference, the traces of a multi-layered painting revealed on the canvas.

In actual fact, Chen Ruo Bing's sensitivity to color is an intuition attained from life, not something completely based on reason or knowledge. The coloration of the forms from intuition nevertheless obviously complies with a certain set of rules. This awareness can, however, never completely predict the result of the coupling of colors, cannot predict the mutual echoing between one individuality and another, but instead brings about a surprising birth. The artist's subjective choices resulting in the juxtaposing of two colors reveals and sets aside the possibility of something beyond human control. No matter whether it is looked at from the point of view of the color relationships or from the changes extant through the layering of pigments, the two colors become the foundation of the painting and form the painting's natural potential to expand.

In Chen Ruo Bing’s construction of the combination of colors in his paintings, a singular feeling for light is evident, a sensitivity rooted in his feeling for natural light. In the creative process, the artist strives to make this light appear on the canvas. This is more apparent when comparing the muted darkened colors in paintings from earlier periods with later creations revealing the progression of a transition from darkness into light. In truth, these changes in light are intricately entwined with the changes in the artist’s own personal life. In his more recent series, at the same time as the

interplay between color and light creates a spring-like radiance, making manifest the artist's consciousness of the infinitesimal changes in the natural world. He has a fine sense of perception for these changes and captures them sensitively, a transformation in the inner emotional sentiments of the reveals a strong personal presence. In this manner, Chen Ruo Bing's paintings are not fully distanced from the appearance of a pure painterly language linked to emotion, but are situated within the structures of a language of form, an appropriate and fitting means by which to enter into a macroscopic subjective expression.

From the point of view of external visual form, Chen Ruo Bing's works are representative of an arch-minimalist style. However, looking at Chen Ruo Bing's art only as abstract or any other single category would be to unduly limit his work. In the portrayal of those un-realistic objects on Chen Ruo Bing's paintings, there is a set of principles, a self-perfected interior form replete with a feeling of physical weight and space causing the painting to appear as solidly constructed in accordance with concrete painting modeling characteristics, and thereby further resolving the binary approach to realism and abstraction.

There is also no need for reliance on any definition or understanding in the paintings, the only channel of comprehension lies in the sensitive acknowledgement of experiencing the reality of art through the eyes. In this sense, the barriers of form are abandoned with the focus shifted instead to the basic laws and rules inherent in the painting; perhaps this ought to be the direction of thinking when discussing his works.

Despite the appearance of unfamiliar images and forms on the canvas, the form of the minimalist image constructions is not unlike that of a still life, full of substance and a sense of solidity. They are objects which seemingly possess life, breathing their own personal breaths. The structures on the canvas: the trapezoids, squares, rectangles, ovals and circles, form the basic shapes of Chen Ruo Bing's paintings of more recent years. Geometric forms leave an almost musically flowing poise and charm on the delicate fabric, thereby making the sometimes standardized, sometimes diffuse, sometimes solemn, sometimes elegant graphic metamorphosis skip a beat in the rhythm, in the mellifluous melody on the visual surface of the canvas. These concise yet highly textural forms, in an abstract physical world carry the burden of expressing a spiritual plane within rationality and order.

The recent works of Chen Ruo Bing take the circular form as their subject, with the light and colors on the canvas serving as a foil for each other. With the sudden emergence of this intangible feeling in the graphic element, the creation of an almost religious sentiment in the solemn and peaceful atmosphere of the paintings is acknowledged. This would appear to be the unconscious revelation of the artist's personal awareness in his artwork. Taking simple forms as the architecture of the artist's production, the implicit lingering quality behind each pattern is revealed. The formless perception contained within a formal pattern is thus derived to show a visual and heartfelt wealth of experience.

Chen Ruo Bing's artworks at any given period seem to retain a constant stability in their external form, but upon further observation of the works produced over a relatively long period of time, one can see subtle changes in the visible forms and the feelings transmitted. From a creative perspective, the artist's pursuit of content becomes more sensitive and exquisite than at the beginning. At the same time, the paintings also reveal an increasingly abundant feeling of layering, thus enabling the overall visual effect of the works to be more replete with vigor and sincerity. However, though his methods may have changed and taken on multiple forms, they remain in principle the same, all the changes within Chen Ruo Bing's creation revolving around individualized diagrammatic constructions and an exploration into the meaning unfolding behind them.  Those series of recent works with characteristic and subtle differences are all in truth expressions of the disparate forms of the same ultimate conceptual construct.

Behind Chen Ruo Bing's rigorous yet rational forms, an Eastern Zen-like sensibility is apparent. If a concrete analysis of these Eastern and Western elements is made, perhaps it would appear exceedingly stiff and far-fetched. It is worth focusing on the fact that in Chen Ruo Bing's artworks, no obvious Chinese symbols or markers appear. In fact, whether in the artistic creative process, or in his own personal identity, one finds no deliberate emphasis on any distinguishing quality of territorial belonging. Chen Ruo Bing, living in Germany, does not place himself amongst a specific ethno-cultural artistic environment, and maintains independence in his creative state from beginning to end. Yet cultural genes exist invisibly in every life, including the lives of the artist. An interest in calligraphy and classical literature imbued since birth, and his experience as a student of traditional Chinese landscape painting at the Zhejiang Academy of Art have all quietly molded Chen Ruo Bing's aesthetic preferences. The existence of such cultural influences from growing up in such an environment, are still quite distinctive even after the artist's time spent studying at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. It is in this unceasing pondering on the questions of East and West in the repetitive practice of art that Chen Ruo Bing ultimately broke through the confines of the medium's form and eliminated the surface antagonism between Eastern and Western culture. He fulfilled this through a spiritual communion on a deeper level, allowing for the possibility of independent expression, in the process gradually establishing a personal style which is truly his own.


Wang Wei

2016