• Huakai Chen, “Life-Releasing,” oil on linen, 40” x 40”, 2017
  • Huakai Chen, Mist Over Tides, 70” x 92”, oil on canvas
  • Huakai Chen, "Cage" 20" x 11" x 29", metal wire
  • Huakai Chen, “Paths To Be Threaded”, 87” x 70”, oil on canvas
  • Huakai Chen, "On The Honorable Path I" 30 x 43", oil on glassine

Am I a Communist? Yes? I am Chinese. I lived in China for the past 18 years. In contemporary China, propaganda permeates daily life and infuses people with fanaticism. The school system greatly reinforces the communist doctrine, hindering my ability to think critically. I joined the Communist Youth League automatically like every Chinese student does, and I took the oath of loyalty to the party and the nation. I felt proud to be part of this great progress of my nation.

Am I a Communist? No. As a student in China, I gained enough experience to sense what education left out or even hid from me. Driven by my desire to resolve my inner conflicts, I looked back at my past experiences in China and over two thousand years of history of this nation and discerned people’s voluntary enslavement to manipulative power that builds up a cage to constrain themselves in the circle of tyranny and servility. Therefore, I explore the triality of individual existence, totalitarianism and voluntary enslavement in my paintings and sculptures by placing materials in stark contrasts with one another, and creating dialogues between paintings and sculptures with similar compositions. This process deconstructs and reconstructs my understanding of human existence: the concept of “national identity” I used to think highly of becomes a monument piled up by millions of bodies, and the sense of sympathy to those who fought alone against the dehumanizing power grows stronger. Although I condemn violence, fanatic passions and even crimes from earlier generations, I still recognize their influence on my works. Such awareness raises my concern that the historic tragedies recur in a cycle. Are humans capable of ending this eternal recurrence? Does this world have a better future?