Shen Yuan

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Shen Yuan (Chinese: 沈远; born 1959 in Xianyou, Fujian), is a Chinese-born French artist. She graduated from China Academy of Art in 1982, and then started to practice in the Xiamen Dada group, an artists group that is known for exploring radical avant-garde art in Southern China.[1][2] In 1990, she moved to Paris, France with her artist husband Huang Yong Ping.

As a contemporary woman artist, Shen Yuan's art is often reflecting on Chinese cultural and political realities. She also conducted strong messages of feminism and gender role in her artworks.[1][3] She has been featured in many exhibitions.[4] Most recently, her and her husband works were both featured in Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum group exhibition Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World, and also featured in solo exhibition Hong Kong Foot with her husband at Tang Contemporary Art (Hong Kong).

Her works are widely involved in reflections on society and political reality. Topics include issues such as labor (child labor, women workers), slums, and social conflicts. Her artistic production process often makes use of on-the-spot investigations and local creative methods to work together with local children or people to complete the work. At the same time, her work also raises some controversial political issues of our time.

Shen is represented by Kamel Mennour in Paris and Tang Contemporary Art in Beijing.[citation needed]

Early life[edit]

Shen Yuan was born to a family of artists. She took up painting under encouragement from her father. In the new art movement known as '85, the artists of Xiamen Dada engaged in contemporary art within the context of a tense political climate. In 1990, Shen Yuan and her husband Huang Yong Ping left China and resettled in Paris. In this city vibrant with artistic activity, they encountered a newly found creative freedom. Nonetheless, the displacement presented a new host of challenges including cultural confrontation, language barriers, and the pressures of life in a new environment.

Art Works[edit]

Having moved to Paris, Shen Yuan’s work often discuss the topics of immigration experience, identity, travel, life, and life. The identity of immigrants allowed her to start a new beginning of creation. When she first arrived in Paris, she lived in an old abandoned hospital. She could not express her thoughts and could not defend herself. This isolated experience was condensed in the exhibition's first work, Perdre sa salive (1994)[5] When the frozen tongue melts a little, the internal knives will appear - the soft tongue becomes a dangerous weapon, just as language can cause harm.

The symbol of the tongue in Shen Yuan’s artistic creation has multiple layers of meanings and possibilities. In terms of artistic creation, it is dualistic, that is, material and spiritual. Material Because it is part of the body, the spirit is instrumental because it is language. “In my creation, the tongue is more representative of the latter, namely language and tools. I like ice as a material because it has a fragile and easily melting side, but when you hold it in your hand, it is biting.”[6] Visually, it is in the process of constant change and instability.

Personal life[edit]

Shen Yuan is married to another renowned Artist of Contemporary Chinese art, Huang Yong Ping. This power couple in the art world have carried out a number of collaborative projects, including a show at Tang Contemporary Art Hong Kong (2018).[7] "We both have a strong personality, but we understand and support each other." Said Shen Yuan in an interview when asked about her husband. “When we first came to Paris, we decided not to have children. But then some years later, I felt the urge of wanting a kid."[6] They have a daughter, born in 1995.


Selected Solo Exhibitions[3]
Year Title of Exhibition
2017 “Without Wall”, Tang Contemporary Art, Beijing, China
2015 “Étoiles du jour”, Galerie Kamel Mennour, Paris, France
2013 “FIAC”, Hors-les-murs, Tuileries, Paris, France
2012 “Sky Ladder”, Tang Contemporary Art, Beijing, China
2011 “Crâne de la Terre”, Parc Monceau et Musée Cernuschi, Paris, France
2010 “Garofalo” (with Huang Yongping), Edicola Notte, Rome, Italy
“Garofalo” (with Huang Yongping), Edicola Notte, Rome, Italy
2009 “Shen Yuan: Hurried words”, UCCA Middle Hall, Beijing, China
2008 “Le Degré Zéro de l’espace”, Galerie Kamel Mennour, Paris, France
2007 “Shen Yuan”, Centre A, Vancouver, Canada
2005 Galerie Beaumontpublic, Luxembourg
2003 “Shen Yuan”, Kunstverein Nürtingen, Germany
“Beauty Room 5”, Beauty Room Gallery, Paris, France
2001 “Shen Yuan”, Bluecoat, Liverpool, UK
“Shen Yuan”, Arnolfini, Bristol, UK
Un Matin du Monde", Chisenhale Gallery, London, UK
“Shen Yuan”, French Institute, London, UK
2000 “Sous la terre, il y a le ciel”, Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland
1999 “Diverged Tongue”, Project Gallery at CCA Kitakyushu, Japan
1994 “Perdre sa salive”, organized by Vices & Vertus, Paris, France


  1. ^ a b "Initiartmagazine". Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  2. ^ "ART CITIES:Paris-Shen Yuan". Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  3. ^ a b "TANG CONTEMPORARY ART 當代唐人藝術中心". TANG CONTEMPORARY ART 當代唐人藝術中心. Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Perdre sa salive - Shen Yuan - Artistes - galerie kamel mennour, 75006 Paris". (in French). Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  6. ^ a b "Initiartmagazine". Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  7. ^ "TANG CONTEMPORARY ART 當代唐人藝術中心". TANG CONTEMPORARY ART 當代唐人藝術中心. Retrieved 2018-04-10.