Photo by Ela Bialkowska

  A tragic story of a sick young man who left us something beautiful to remind us of how fragile life is.

The following excerpt is from the design Boom website:

a life project - becoming a doctor

‘as an artist, my dream is to become a doctor.
making art is all about looking at oneself,
examining oneself and somehow seeing the world.’
so said chen zhen, who died in 2000 from a rare
medical condition known as autoimmune hemolytic
anemia. at the age of 25 he began to suffer from
this anaemia and was given a prognosis of five
years. confused he spent three months living with
tibetan monks in a non-materialistic environment.
his experience in tibet strengthened him physically
and spiritually, providing him with inspiration,
energy, and insight into life that fed his creativity.
from early on it gave him a keen understanding and
analytic perspective on the value of time and space.

both of chen's parents were medical doctors, and
also chen started first to study medicine.
the understanding of his disease as an integral part
of his being influenced all his considerations as an artist.
he interwove aspects of his self-chosen exile,
the human body, his illness, and chinese medical
practices as metaphors to explore the complex and
sometimes paradoxical interplay between the material
and the spiritual, the communal and the individual,
between inside and out.

most of the works featured on this page are dated 2000,
the year of his death.

‘crystal landscape of inner body’
chen zhen made eleven crystal organs and arranged
them on a surgical bed to form an interior landscape in
crystal’. the external landscape is reflected in the
crystal surface of the interior landscape of the body,
underlining the relationship between internal and external
causes, between the human body and society.
however, it also reveals the value of life and how fragile
it is.
chen zhen wrote: ‘when you feel ill it’s already too late.
it’s better not to get ill (that is, to prevent);
this is my recipe’.