Grey Projects


I Learned My History from the TV [e-Catalogue]

I Learned My History from the TV [e-Catalogue]


A work is never completed except by some accident such as weariness, satisfaction, the need to deliver, or death: for in relation to who or what is making it, it can only be one stage in a series of inner transformations. — Paul Valéry

I Learned My History From The TV draws inspiration from a popular Chinese period drama series, recreating the scenes from this particular work of historical fiction in the form of painting.

The images are related to Samuel Chen's estrangement with a particular history, culture and language, an estrangement often acknowledged by many later generations of Overseas Chinese, without shame. However, this sense of alienation towards the 'mother tongue' coexists with a familiarity towards such historical and ethnical amnesia.

In the presentation, Chen challenges our conventional notion of process and completion, trite distinction between the final work and the sketch. The sense of 'unfinished-ness' is a conscious effort by the painter to evade and deviate from both demands of market logic and imposition of feudal and bourgeois work ethics.

Like the content of the drama series, which is about an 'unfinished revolution' of the 20th century, the form and content re-invokes Paul Valéry's statement about how a true poem is never finished but only abandoned.