Junxian Chen’s colorful illustrations pursue a “ceremonial” quality in daily life

“I like to record life in a ceremonial, concise and powerful way,” Junxian Chen told It’s Nice That. This is most evident in his recent Daily observation series, where Junxian emphasizes the subtle beauty of everyday events – a basketball falling into a basket or the crisp crease of a sheet hung to dry. It carefully changes the way objects are constructed visually, like how a fan can take on the appearance of a flower or the blades of a pair of scissors become elongated and sleek like the inner workings of a clock. His creative eye simplifies the shapes he sees around him and articulates them into luminous blocks of pure color, making them worthy of being appreciated in a new light.

With a background in designing brand visuals, Junxian has become adept at taking a simple idea and drawing it to interesting or humorous effect. His series Wear a mask interprets the mundane act of wearing a mask that has become normal during the pandemic into an eerie, metamorphic study. “One day I took the mask off when I got home and saw that there were streaks on my face, so I thought about how if I wore the mask for a long time, if it would affect people’s facial features.” While we’ve generally grown accustomed to muffled voices and concealed facial expressions caused by mask-wearing, Junxian’s series takes this image one step further. A strange transformation takes place: “the nose is crushed, the face is deformed, the ears are advanced, and the mask and the face are finally integrated”. While the series is “just a fun exaggeration, a joke,” it provides an intriguing study of the state of human interaction during the pandemic and evokes a very relatable sense of curiosity about what’s going on behind the mask.

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