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Art JiaChen

Jia Chen's Pilgrimage to a Never-Land of Arts

Jia Chen is an established New York based painter, sculptor, poet, song-writer and social historian. She has since the early 1990s played an active role in various significant NYC cultural events for over two and a half decades, acknowledged as not only Founder of Unconstrained Freehand Cursive Script and American Poetic Expressionism, but also a remarkable art and literary critic and song-writer. 


Jia Chen's imposing artwork, including her huge calligraphic murals, paintings and sculptures, and even her sentimental poetry and music, are profoundly permeated with a strong sense of philosophical speculation, uninhibited imaginations,  and a free-floating spirit. They are loyal portrayals of her decades of arduous journeys in The US, especially in New York City, in either a physical, emotional or psychological fashion.


Jia started her life-long journey to a Never-Land of Arts as a junior high student. At 13, she was appointed Editor-in-Chief of her school magazine,her articles frequently selected as model essays for candidates of National College Entrance Examnations. With a keen interest in visual arts, Jia became a prolific illustration and wood-block artist by self-study. As a multi-talented "wonder child", she received special education in literature and performing arts at the municipal Children's Palace of her hometown. Later, she was trained as an alto by Professors Li Lanzong and Yu Zhonghai, two China's leading national authority figures of vocal music.


Born with a strong sense of humor and wild imaginations, she became an outstanding existentialist poet and writer of social satires in the early 1980s, while a postgraduate student at Peking University in Beijing, China. Her poetry composed then in both free verse and traditional Chinese poetic forms included Lines on My Ups and Downs and Sphinx, a powerful piece tinged with a mysterious flavor of philosophic introspection. Then in New York City, at the Graduate Faculty of New School for Social Research and Columbia University, she was recognized by renowned scholars like Arthur J. Vidich, Judy Shapiro, C. T. Hsia and Jose Casanova as “a natural sociologist”, “a great writer in her own right” and “with a unique writing style full of madness”. Her first novellas written in The US included “Come with Wind” and “New York as It Is”.


In 1990, as a challenge to China's centuries-old history of calligraphy, Jia Chen founded a revolutionary calligraphic style named Unconstrained Freehand Cursive Script. In 1994-5, she published her theoretical manifesto, “Unconstrained Freehand Cursive Script: A Revolution in Chinese Calligraphic Art”, of both Chinese and English versions, in such leading Chinese and American publications as The International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society (Volume 8, No. 3, 1995). Based upon Lao Tzu's philosophic ideas of spontaneity, Jia considers calligraphic creation a particular yet convenient form of art enabling her to express personal visions rather than repeating the established practices of a few ancient masters' styles. Her magnificent murals of Unconstrained Freehand Cursive Script, although possessing a wide array of colorful expressions, are spontaneously accomplished, free from any painstakingness and foreordained result. Confirming eloquently a famous remark on the theory of art by the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus that "A man could never step twice into the same river," they are an authentic portrayal of her uninhibited imagination and storm-tossed inner vitality, each reflecting the river that passed when she created. 



In May 1994, she held a sensational Exhibition on the Script at China's National Museum of Chinese History in Beijing. According to Dongfang Hu, a world-famous Chinese-British art critic, the Script “has revolutionized the art form of traditional Chinese calligraphy, posing a bold challenge to conventional criticism and creation. Each piece, as profoundly grounded in Lao Tzu's Taoist ideas of spontaneity, is novel in both its concept and skill requirements. The Script, in terms of its line appeal, integrated composition and artistic power, thoroughly eliminates such common technical weaknesses as stiffness, affectedness, and over-elaborateness, frequently found in the work of our calligraphic predecessors.”



In early 2000, Jia Chen held another exhibition on the Script in New York City, followed by her one-woman art shows on Poeti/Lyric American Expressionist paintings. Jia's powerful painting style, newly developed on the basis of her revolutionary Unconstrained Freehand Cursive Script, and borrowing the superior elements of related forms of art and literature, was highly spoken of by prestigious New York critics such as Robert C. Morgan and Arthur J. Vidich. Dr. Mogan reviewed Jia Chen’s art work as "intriguing in integrating calligraphy into the Western painting art", while Dr. Vidich believed her artwork was "the most bizarre and avant-garde in terms of its wild imaginations and evolutionary skills". Morgan even said that Jia's graceful line movements were "so much more appealing than Pablo Picasso's Flamenco Dancing."




Since her art shows in the year of 2000, Jia has produced a tremendous amount of artwork, including painting series such as Dreamers Like Us, Metamorphosis, In Pursuit of Happiness, Moonstruck, The Awakening, Storm-Tossed in New York and “Love, Unforgettable”, as well as a series of sculpture in commemoration of the national tragedy of September 11, 2001, entitled “God Bless America”, and so forth. In addition to her voluminous paintings and sculpture developed from her revolutionary Unconstrained Freehand Cursive Script, she is equally known for her epoch-making musical project with Neil Wolff in 1997 on Hong Kong's Return to China, titled "Oh China--My Mother" and staged at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, and a musical series of 15 love  ballads entitled “Beloved Celestial Dreams”.


In view of Jia's recent paintings, Dr. Robert C. Morgan writes:


Dear Jia Chen:

Somehow your interior response through the brush to external events is more convincing than other work I have seen. I like what you do.  I like your parallel relationship to music as well. This makes sense -- the rhythm, variations and subtle intensity all come together nicely.


Rod Shepard , a noted musician, composer and producer, also gives his wonderful comments on Jia's love ballads entitled Beloved Celestrial Dreams as follows:


These are beautiful songs for a children's book. They are full of colors, dreams and imaginations, each resounding like an operetta.



For Jia Chen all art forms are only channels to let out her own inner forces or impressions of an entirely spiritual wonderland. Although with unprecedented achievements beyond other people's reach, she has so far remained in a Never-Land of Arts as a curious child, anxious to search more, and more.