Interview & Photographs by Lindsay Cox
Painter and sculptor are among the many titles given to Meitsen Chen. Chen creates artwork that beckons to the beauty of the modern world while holding to her organic roots. She was born in Taiwan, and holds residence and has her main studio in Paris. Her home, which is often the subject of her work, is distributed in cities throughout the world. Her life is full of travel, and it is this compelling and elusive place that she chooses to paint from- her heart on canvas.
From Paris to New York, Miami Beach to Berlin, different cultures find their way into what can be called “city maps”. A large body of her work concerns accurate city grids, but these maps are not rigid in any way; they, like her, have an organic feel. She is natural in her process and lifestyle, and this honest expression translates into the weft of her canvas. Along with paint, she has used elements such as balsamic vinegar, coffee, and wine to tell her visual stories. Meitsen carries a warmth about her that is felt immediately obvious to any newcomer. She is always happy to invite you into her process and share her global journey.
Meitsen finds inspiration through books (she has an extensive studio library), and of course her world-wide experiences. Clean lines, neat shelves, and natural influences are common threads in her lifestyle and are evident in her work that balances specific lines and free forms in one composition. The objects she surrounds herself with and the decor around her studio generously reflect her personal style.
Meitsen’s main studio is located in Paris. It sits looking over the quaint rooftops into the center of the city, which makes for quite the view through her expansive windows which fill the space with natural light all day long. Her choice for functional living is inspirational, and everything in her studio has a purpose or carries memories with it.
Meitsen Chen defines herself as an urban nomad. Whenever possible, she follows her expositions to many cities in order to better understand the reactions regarding her creation. She says that for many exhibit-goers, she is the first Taiwanese artist they could meet personally. These trips allow her to have more human contact in a variety of urban environments. She feels simultaneously a native and foreigner in different cities, and that life is about discovery and learning. The more Meitsen travels the more she seems to have several lives.
Meitsen was born in 1966 in Taipei. After graduating with a degree in Fine Art from the Taipei National University of the Arts in 1990, she went to Paris for advanced studies. Soon she received an artist residency in France and has worked there since. Meitsen makes an inventory of vital moments by means of drawing, photography, installation, sculpture and painting so that imprinting their marks in space and time: this method produces an intimate topography, a map detailing sensitivities and experiences in high relief. Attempts to classify the memory are not guided by chronological concerns but according to affective and emotional orders. In her new works, the maps become a network of human interconnectedness. She depicts the cities physically and mentally evolving like the trees; an investment of the artist’s identity in an earthly paradise, in an organic cocoon.
The power of her imagination is what makes Meitsen especially interesting for collectors. Meitsen remains curious of new worlds, dissatisfied with normality but attentive to local custom. This imagination helps her to be surprised, excited and motivated, in a way of connective sensitivity. In her recent creation, the prominence of trees is naturally linked to the exuberant vegetation of Taiwan. Contrary to popular belief, a tree is not an individual. The tree is a collective construction in an architectural form that corresponds to the image of the city. With its rhizomes and branches, trees weave their nutritive fluid network in perpetual motion, by analogy, we find in the city, as a transient connection of circulations. Beyond this plant metaphor, Meitsen developed in an original way this idea of vital flow, in comparison to the living organism which also weaves his nervous system and bloodstream. A unique identity of seeking response on the origins. Her work weaves together the natural and the urban, captivating each individual that views it, and breathing life into each collection it joins.
EXHIBITIONS & COLLECTIONS
Meitsen has had many exhibitions in Art Fairs, Galleries, Art Centers and Museums, in Europe, China, Taiwan, Russia and US. Her works are now presented in an international traveling exhibition (www.intimatetransgressionsproject.com) which took place in New York, Beijing and Hangzhou.
Meitsen’s work is part of private collections in France, UK, Spain, China and Taiwan.