2020 has thrown New Yorkers curve balls: a virus crisis, stay at home orders, curfews, economic uncertainty, national social unrest. Linjie Deng, a Chinese artist who has been working and living in New York, is a witness to this fast-changing unique period. Linjie has observed how people can and do adapt their lifestyles to address a crisis. This resilience is a survival technique also used by chameleons. So, the theme of this exhibition: Chameleon 2020. Chameleon 2020 is the first virtual solo exhibition of New York visual artist Linjie Deng during the COVID-19 outbreak. The 25 works in this exhibition integrate Linjie’s observations and his personal reactions to the virus crisis and social unrest. Linjie’s east/west cross-cultural training and experiences allow him to approach his art in a multifaceted manner, creating in multiple styles and utilizing various materials.
In his COVID series, Linjie’s portrays the messages of effective protection along with his deep love of New York. (Entire proceeds of these works will benefit New York Presbyterian Hospital’s Front-Line Healthcare Workers’ Fund.)
The Yin-Yang series of contemporary calligraphy works consists of four sets of mutually opposing and coexisting words: freedom and hope, proud and humble, me and you, me and we. To convey his message, Linjie chose 5 different styles of Chinese Calligraphy fonts from 10 different historical time periods. Linjie’s words: “The debate over the simple face mask has sometimes evolved into a larger discussion over the role of the individual in society, pitting the West’s individualism against Asia’s collectivism. Eastern and Western cultures have different methods of thought and world view. They often react in entirely different ways when faced with the same issue. So I put the two different “reactions” in one picture.”
Linjie has observed first hand recent social unrest and great disagreement among many Americans. In the wake of that, Linjie has chosen to incorporate traditional Chinese Calligraphy art in combination with English language newspaper articles as a means inspire a message of healing: “Make America United Again”. He wishes the Asian-American community can see hope in that message especially in this artistic form that they can readily identify with. Linjie’s inspiration calligraphy artwork has been featured on NY1 television.
Stay at home orders and curfews have forced many of us to spend so much more time at home and given us the opportunity to sometimes reflect on things that we didn’t focus on before. Linjie’s Teeth Falling out series is a reflection of his personal experiences. Each of the six paintings addresses a basic item crucial to our lives and is an element that Linjie has not focused on before: a tooth, the sun, soil, a drop of water, a leaf, air; he has painted each element on its own. His goal was to magnify the small and potentially invisible visual characteristics of each item. Linjie’s paintings zoom in to cover the entire canvas. He wanted to simply face the small but important things with a different perspective. Our personal perspectives are part of what makes us unique as individuals and part of the value we offer to the world around us.
In the Rainbow painting created for Pride Month, Linjie reflects on child rearing in a time of diversity and social discourse. Proceeds from this painting will benefit Callen-Lorde Community Health Center.
Linjie’s larger-scale paintings, underscored by intense drawing, ask the question: How to restore confidence post-crisis in our personal lives? Linjie reconstructs visual appearances based upon the emotional context of his surroundings. He has created the Moon Catcher, Gone with Cloud, News and Ocean paintings. The viewer is urged to reflect on the relationship between man and nature whether we are consciously thinking or dreaming.
Linjie said: “I hope my viewers can find a new way to cast themselves after viewing my artworks. When you leave my exhibit I want you to be able to feel: Yes, I have changed. Yes, things are different. I am a chameleon with new energy. I am confident to face the post-crisis world."
Linjie’s art is the speaker of individual identity. Linjie’s art is the mender of polarization. Linjie’s art can be the solver of culture clash. So this is Chameleon 2020 by artist Linjie Deng.
Linjie Deng has been featured on NY1 television, and recently covered by various media including "Social Life Magazine", NY Post and multiple International outlets.
July 22 2020