Vincent CY Chen (b. 1993, Taiwan) is a New York based artist who works in multi-media sculpture and installation. Chen received his BFA in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in 2015, and his MFA in Studio Art at New York University in 2019. His work has been shown in 80WSE Gallery (New York, USA), 212 Arts (New York, USA), Commons Gallery (New York, USA), Field Projects (New York, USA), Galerie města Trutnova (Brno, Czech Republic), MANA Contemporary (New Jersey, USA), and more. Chen is the co-founder and director of De:Formal Gallery, an artist-run on-line platform that showcases and interviews emerging artists on a monthly bases, he has been curating online shows and conducting interviews at De:Formal since 2015.

Artist Statement

My work takes you through the journey of discovering shame in tension with desire. On the outside, we can appear approachable, inviting, and alluring even. But upon closer inspection, we are nervous the intimate and ugly details of our lives—our fetishes, our fears, and our abnormalities—will begin to emerge and eclipse everything else about our identities. My body of work is similarly positioned: my pieces first present as playful and peculiar, but upon closer inspection, their more nefarious elements begin to reveal themselves as part of the whole. 

I draw inspiration from organisms that combine the seductive and the exotic: carnivorous plants, psychedelic fungi, venomous reptiles, and sexually transmitted viruses. These entities lure, bait, and prey by tapping into a primal desire that draws us in to them. First encounters with my work begins with a cerebral shot of dopamine: vibrant lights, saturated colors, and objects that play with your sense of space and position. These elements are designed to inspire childlike wonder that entices the audience into the room. Upon entering, what began as innocent, curious, and approachable transforms into something foul, primal, and taboo. An otherworldly collection of biological oddities, sexual fetishes, and artifacts of power presents itself. What looks like blooming lilies are in reality viruses suspended in ejaculate. Ornate jewelry is affixed and hooked to alien creatures suspended on the walls, like trophies. Glowing arcs of neon lure you in like insect zappers to other dangers such as leather restraints, bear traps, and flesh-eating diseases.

I am a New York based Taiwanese artist. I was raised in Fengyuan, a provincial area that has since been absorbed by Taichung, Taiwan’s second most populous city. Being raised in a conservative and myopic environment, the tension between my budding sexuality and individuality with my surroundings incubated my ideas around humiliation, guilt, and authenticity. Once I arrived in New York City, these concepts surfaced and developed into my artistic orientation.

My process typically begins with an introspective examination of shame and desire. I put these concepts in conversation with related iconography derived from queer culture, children’s media, and Abrahamic religions. As this dialogue evolves, I begin to explore physical form: typically in materials such as polystyrene, clay, and wood. I then begin to consider other elements beyond these base materials: color, texture, illumination, and spatial context. These considerations are often expressed as applications of fiberglass, resin, paint, and neon. The end result is an atmospheric multimedia display that investigates the fusion of allure and disgust.