Free Radicals (part 24). Brooch, 2017. Paper, paint, coal, glue, silver, brass, stainless steel. 130 x 110 x 50mm
Attai Chen is informed by the faded hues of his native Israel, as well as the saturated colors of his present home in Germany. Exploring polarities in both mind and matter, Chen treats raw materials as if encountering them for the first time, without preconception. He utilizes cast-offs, carved wood, layered paper, silver, paint, and graphite, to express his purposeful, substance-based aesthetic, which includes both jewelry and sculptural reliefs. In discussing a brooch by Chen from the collection of Die Neue Sammlung – Design Museum, Munich, master goldsmith Otto Künzli wrote: “It is an impenetrable conglomerate, a rampant form of growth, at once fascinating, alluring, and threatening. I see a struggle, pain, and desperation. And from deep within, a warm light emerges.” Chen’s latest series, A Matter of Perspective, focuses on perception – the way each individual views reality through the lens of his or her own personal “filter.” A play on words, the very title asks us to suspend prior judgement about what may constitute the physical. With this series, Chen questions the very essence of objectivity, championing instead an ever-changing view of things, time, and space. Informed by the multiple perspectives used by Pre-Renaissance painters, Chen offers their scenic fragmentation as a paradigm for numerous viewpoints, as opposed to one-point perspective, which came later—presenting the viewer with a single frame of reference. “We get the feeling,” states Chen, “that we are looking at a body consisting of independent, self-contained, multidimensional entities in a process of bonding…This ‘incorrect’ representation is more realistic. It offers a humbler way of looking at the world around us and the place that we occupy in it.” A brooch from A Matter of Perspective was included in Schmuck 2017.
A graduate of Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, Chen also holds a graduate degree from the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich. In 2010, he won the Herbert Hofmann Prize at Schmuck, Munich and in 2011 the Oberbayerischer Prize for Applied Art. He received the 2014 Andy Prize for Contemporary Art, which granted him a solo exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Among others, Chen is represented in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Die Neue Sammlung, Munich.