“Through this specific spatial format [of a minimally furnished room], I am trying to depict a unique domestic space and the alienated identity of its occupant.”

Born 1976, Putian, Fujian. Lives and works in Hangzhou

Chen Yujun and his brother Chen Yufan are part of a large extended family. One branch’s 19th-century migration to Southeast Asia gave the artists second and third cousins in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. These places are as foreign to Chen Yujun as to any Westerner. They form a field of dreams, of “my own secret experiences and imaginings”, he says. In the series Asian Circumscription (or Borders), he explores the creative possibilities of a tiled floor and three walls, using various patterns of line and colour to render this universal domestic “set” bizarre and alien. In Asian Circumscription 5.2 Square Metres 1 (2008), a window—or is it a painting?—is papered over; a compass—or is it a random pattern?—sits in the centre of the floor. Corners look like openings; walls start flat at the bottom but curve at the top like pillars. A similar room in the three-panel painting Asian Circumscription 1111 (2011) has a mysteriously missing tile and an empty armchair; lines from its wallpaper extend right through a hole in the floor.  Chen Yujun and his migratory extended family all live in various parts of what is commonly labelled Asia, which Westerners often vaguely lump together with China. For the artist, however, each of these “Asian areas” is distinctive, strange and filled with potential.

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