Many artists have played around with exaggerating the eyes and other features of their subjects, but that doesn’t make these Chen Hongzhu paintings any less impressive. Rendering women in fantastical scenarios and with facial attributes that resemble anime characters, Hongzhu takes audiences on a surreal viewing experience. Segregating her work from her contemporaries’ efforts, however, are the gothic elements like dark eyeliner, blood, skulls and insects that Hongzhu litters throughout her work. Her subjects are thus simultaneously innocuous and threatening, leaving viewers unsure of how they should feel.
Audiences may be surprised to learn that Chen Hongzhu considers all of her paintings to be self-portraits. The reason many of them contain small slivers of blood is because she wants to convey how fragile her porcelain exterior actually is. She is heavily influenced by American artists Mark Ryden and John Currin.