Susan Chen is among the most popular and promising artists who deal with the East Asian theme in their creative work. Her paintings have attracted the attention of art lovers before the COVID-19 pandemic and, especially, after it. For instance, Chen’s works at her first personal exhibition at Meredith Rosen Gallery in New York were sold out even before its official opening (Harley 2020). Apart from that, Chen’s MFA thesis exhibition that was postponed several times because of the pandemic had a waiting list of people who wanted to attend her solo show. Thus, the managers of the Metropolitan Museum of Art decided to organize collaboration with Susan Chen and show her works as a new word in Asian art history. The idea seems worthy of attention because Chen’s paintings focus on the important topic of the limits of Asian and Asian Americans’ representation in the media.
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Chen’s latest works devoted to the COVID-19 pandemic clearly show that people still tend to evaluate each other on their race or country where they live. Susan Chen tries to show through her works that inclusion into the dominant culture may not lead to liberation (Harley 2020). That is why Asian Americans still remain more Asian than Americans, and Chen sees her primary goal as showing that people are more than their race, and the latter cannot be called clean or not. One of Susan Chen’s works painted in 2020, titled Inject Disinfectant, where she is hooked to an IV that looks like a Clorox spray and is sipping Lysol, insinuates that she tries to disinfect herself. This picture may have either COVID-19 implications, as everyone is using antiseptics now, or the fact that Asian people are still seen as if their bodies themselves need disinfection because they are contagious.
Susan Chen’s artworks are definitely sellable, and her previous exhibitions where her works were sold even before their official openings only confirm this claim. The popularity of Susan Chen’s paintings may be explained by the fact that the artist touches upon the topics that were quite rarely represented in other painters’ works. Thus, the combination of up-to-date topics such as racial discrimination and lack of representation of Asians or Asian Americans with a quite limited number of artworks provokes great public response and resonance in the media. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that Susan Chen’s artworks may be considered sellable because she currently writes portraits that always were valued by the general public. Moreover, portraits written by Susan Chen may be considered not only portraits but the socially important images of real Asian Americans. They are entitled to at least lessen the degree of racial discrimination that exists in the modern world (Harley 2020). Thus, Susan Chen’s paintings may be not only sellable but also socially significant as they make people think about such issues as race discrimination and the lack of media representation of particular groups.
The exhibition where it will be possible to buy Susan Chen’s paintings will be conducted in the Metropolitan Art Museum later in spring 2022. People may see her paintings together with other works of East Asian art to look at this culture from a new and modern perspective. They will be able not only to look at the pictures or buy them but also see Susan Chen and talk to her about the paintings and her plans for future projects.
Wong, Harley. 2020. “Susan Chen’s Portraits of Asian Americans Reckon with a History of Exclusion.” Artsy, Web.