Artist Long-Bin Chen explores different cultural meanings, and seeks to combine ideas and concepts from the East with those of the West. He incorporates such Asian iconography as Buddha heads and Japanese warrior figures, as well as imagery from other cultures, into his work. He chooses to work with local printed material from the communities in which he is an artist in residence, including telephone books, magazines, and other cultural debris of our information society. At first glance, the sculptures appear to be stonework, and most viewers are surprised to learn that Chen’s sculptures are soft and made from paper.
His more recent works are large-scale Buddha heads carved from piles of phone books. The Buddha sculptures represent the missing heads of many ancient Buddha figures that have been looted from Asia and sold to Western museums and collectors. Since colonial times, Westerners have taken heads from the Buddha statues in Asia and brought them back to the West. While one finds so many Buddha heads in Western museums and galleries, an equal number of Buddha bodies in Asia are headless. When carved into phone books, Chen’s Buddha heads contain the names and numbers of millions of residents. These heads represent caring Buddhas from the East who have come to take care of the West.
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