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Yuen - "Erasure," 2021 Oil on Canvas, 40 x 48 inches

 

Charles Yuen’s paintings are compelling and evocative rather than didactic. Their tactile surfaces reveal complexities rather than superficialities.

“Relying on an ever-expanding vocabulary culled from a wide range of sources, including Asian art, Persian miniatures, ornithology, cartoons, scientific diagrams, Op Art, and outsider art, Yuen assembles what I have come to think of as visual ideograms, complex possibilities whose ambiguous meanings reverberate.” (John Yau, Hyperallergic)

 

Charles Yuen - "Erasure," 2021, Oil on Canvas, 40 x 48 inches

 

 

 

 

Left:
“Erasure”
2021
Oil on canvas
40 x 48 inches
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Charles Yuen - "Wobbly Library," 2021, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 40 inches

 

 

 

 

Left:
“Wobbly Library”
2021
Oil on canvas
48 x 40 inches
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Charles Yuen - Hands Up
2019
oil on canvas
66 x 54 inches

 

 

 

 

 

Right:
“Hands Up”
2019
Oil on canvas
66 x 54 inches
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Charles Yuen - Wave Cancellation Field, 2021, Oil on canvas, 54 × 66 inches

 

 

 

Left:
“Wave Cancellation Field”
2021
Oil on canvas
54 x 66 inches
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Charles Yuen - "Reading List," 2021, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 40 inches

 

 

 

Left:
“Reading List”
2021
Oil on canvas
48 x 40 inches
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“My current paintings are a meditation on a secretive dynamic between our subjective and objective selves. Wave fields conjuring microwave–radar-electromagnetic–gravitational forces tighten the space. Nested in this thrumming background is a wandering vocabulary of images. Birds observe, channeling Triassic origins, people sprout roots for poetic expression, a subterranean library spreads with fungal profusion as the landscape above is erased.

Conjuring stories that champion absurdity and acceptance, hubris and redemption—I paint innocent observations of the human condition. Made in a process of discovery and revelation, my paintings offer an archeology of their own creation; pentimenti belies false starts, buried metaphors, and possible diversions.

These paintings resist complicity with a mass-media’s propensity towards dehumanized generalities. Battered and scarred surfaces infused with subtle humor evoke a contemporary condition.”  (–Charles Yuen, 2021)

 

Charles Yuen - GhostTrees, 2021, Oil on canvas, 48x40ins

 

 

 

 

 

Right:
“Ghost Tree”
2020
Oil on canvas
48 x 40 inches
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Charles Yuen - no description

 

 

 

 

 

Right:
“Moon Lit”
2021
Oil on canvas
40 x 48 inches
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Charles Yuen - "Rainbow Position," 2021, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 40 inches

 

 

 

 

 

Left:
“Rainbow Position”
2021
Oil on canvas
40 x 48 inches
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Charles Yuen - "Amphiteater," 2021, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 40 inchs

 

 

 

 

Right:
“Amphitheater”
2021
Oil on canvas
48 x 40 inches
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Charles Yuen currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Originally from Hawaii, Yuen moved to New York City in 1981 after receiving a BFA (University of Hawaii) and a MFA (Rutgers University). His work has also been included in exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Newark Museum, The Contemporary Museum, Artist Space, Exit Art, Hallwalls, Franklin Furnace. He has had solo exhibitions at Studio10, Brooklyn, NY, Valentine Gallery, Queens, NY, Elizabeth Harris Gallery, NY, NY; Art in General, NY, NY; Asian American Arts Center, NY, NY; LeoTony Gallery, NY, NY; Metaphor Contemporary Art, Brooklyn, NY; RH Fine Art, Brooklyn, NY; ADA Gallery, Richmond VA; and the Downtown Gallery, Honolulu, HI.Grants awarded include a John Simon Gugenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2018), the Adolf and Esther Gottleib Foundation (2011), Joan Mitchell Foundation (2006), and Artist in Residence (1983-4, Asian Arts Institute and New York State Council on the Arts).

Viewing art as a project connected to a social and civic vision, Yuen has also participated community based activities including being a founding member of Godzilla, an Asian American arts organization; contributions in support of various not for profit locally based organizations; and broader political and cultural advocacy exhibitions. Inherently iconoclastic, his art champions personal, human-centric values as rationality and poetics coexist.

Artist Statement

My painting process inhales a profusion of events and exhales a reflection; inconclusive, provocative, thoughtful, wry. Being from Hawaii, living in New York City, with an hyphenated identity (American-Chinese-Japanese) has occasioned unique assumptions on belonging. An unstable cultural perch promotes a questioning viewpoint.

Early paintings sought to engage identity as a metaphor, provoking insight via an alienated vision. Influenced by Edward Said’s Orientalism, and other structuralist critiques, my notion of an alienated vision matured. Focus sharpened as theoretical, political, and personal experiences integrated.

Accordingly, my work delights in the iconoclastic. Denying primacy to “logical” spaces in favor of a poetic experience. I coax material and intellectual stimuli to merge in a kind of interactive, non-hierarchical, input. Increasingly physical paintings paradoxically explore invisible forces.

My current paintings are a meditation on a secretive dynamic between our subjective and objective selves. Wave fields conjuring microwave–radar-electromagnetic–gravitational forces tighten the space. Nested in this thrumming background is a wandering vocabulary of images. Birds observe, channeling Triassic origins, people sprout roots for poetic expression, a subterranean library spreads with fungal profusion as the landscape above is erased.

Conjuring stories that champion absurdity and acceptance, hubris and redemption—I paint innocent observations of the human condition. Made in a process of discovery and revelation, my paintings offer an archeology of their own creation; pentimenti belies false starts, buried metaphors, and possible diversions.

These paintings resist complicity with a mass-media’s propensity towards dehumanized generalities. Battered and scarred surfaces infused with subtle humor evoke a contemporary condition.

—Charles Yuen