DANIEL CHEN
I never thought growing up that I would become an artist. I was always an outsider, not really American, not really Taiwanese. I grew up in a patriarchal family where men worked and women stayed at home. I was told over and over that being an artist would never pay the bills and that as my duty as a man, it would be to make money and provide. Being a first generation Asian American male put me in a delicate position of having to learn and adhere to two distinctly different languages and cultures, while trying to fulfill a traditional family piety.

It wouldn’t be until I was a young adult that I would have the fortitude to tell my parents that I would never fulfill their dreams. I never thought it would be possible, yet the conversation took less than a minute. And like that, I was free from the fate beholden me as a child. I was free to do anything, to be anything. I was unburdened, to begin my own narrative. Becoming an artist meant leaving behind everything I knew and prepared for through my young adult life. Like most people, I was blinded by tradition, duty, and a narrative I could not escape. My art practice became my personal rebellion against these things.

As I have pursued my career, I have dedicated my work to the sense of rebellion and peripheries. My paintings depict nameless people, shifting through loud and chaotic landscapes, trying to find a place of solace. They explore the realms of manhood and identity in the contemporary world. I’ve come to realize that the figures that I paint are stranger, someone’s, and nobodies. They are mundane and strange, recognizable and distant at the same time.