Panel Discussion | Godzilla: Politics, Aesthetics, Community

A panel discussion moderated by Ryan Lee Wong, with Emily Cheng, Helen Oji, and Charles Yuen

1:00 video

Godzilla!: An Asian American Art World Mission

Millen Brown-Ewens 2024

In his existential oil painting Invisible Man (1984)linear elements containing Chinese queues (hairstyles) inscribe themselves in an undulating landscape that, when viewed with greater perspective, reveal a face, prompting us to unpack the scene like a surrealist riddle. “Abstractly my alienation visually manifests in a quietly catastrophic, receding space collapsing in on itself,” Yuen shares. “Within this context, the subjects of my paintings vary, largely focused on exploring the human condition influenced by current events. I work at finding qualities embedded in these events with the potential of transcending topicality.” Jug Boy (1994) for example is anchored in a notion of flexible narratives. “By placing pictures within pictures, I wanted to create stories that would change depending on the viewer’s disposition at any particular time.”

The Maverick Legacy of Godzilla Asian American Artists Network

Elaine Velie 2024

An exhibition at Eric Firestone Gallery spanning the late 1980s to present day delves into their multidisciplinary output.

Charles Yuen’s paintings are cosmic puzzles to be pondered

Cate McQuaid 2023

Charles Yuen's paintings in "Rhyming the Invisible" at LaiSun Keane, at once intimate and cosmic, invite viewers into a generative, uneasy world.

In “Rhyming the Invisible,” Charles Yuen Scripts a Planet into Existence through his First Solo Exhibition in Boston

Quick Bit by Fatima Swaray 2023

Entering Charles Yuen’s world through “Rhyming the Invisible,” his solo exhibition at LaiSun Keane, is being plunged into a heavenly body that functions with its own set of governance and folklore. The logic and rules that regulate this planet are subversive yet reflective of our own. Each oil painting becomes a player within a multi-part saga that Yuen authors with the utmost care and particularity. Moving through the gallery begins to feel as though you are traveling through a storybook of mythology, creation, and abstract observations of the contemporary human condition.

Exhibition at LaiSun Keane Gallery features works by Charles Yuen


Charles Yuen’s discoveries are often of ambiguous domains populated by silhouetted figures engaged in mysterious activities involving books, rocks, clouds, trees, snow, pointing, and juggling. His figures could be school boys, musicians, shamans, animated shadows, anonymous individuals, or spirits. Sometimes their arms hang down to the ground, reminding us of our distant ancestors, the apes, from whom we split off around 7 million years ago in Africa. It is a world that exists apart from ours, yet speaks to us about our anxieties, such as climate change, the fear of others, and our relationship to science and knowledge. We are not sure how time is measured in Yuen’s worlds.

Charles Yuen's spores and magic

Wells Chandler 2022

The mycelia network of interweb algorithms finally delivered a plump mushroom. “Between Here and Now” is Yuen’s second solo show with Pamela Salisbury Gallery in Hudson, NY. 

Charles Yuen's Time is Now

John Yau 2020

Yuen’s ambiguous works resist a simple or anecdotal reading while speaking to our apprehensions and paranoia.

Beer with a Painter: Charles Yuen

Jennifer Samet 2016

Charles Yuen’s home in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, is comfortably domestic and suburban in feeling, which somehow surprises me, after having seen his zany and sardonic paintings earlier in the year at Studio10 in Bushwick. Yuen pulls a couple of summer lagers from his refrigerator  and leads me down a metal staircase to the garden level. The tile-floored room with a sliding glass door opening to a backyard patio is his studio, with several paintings in progress and detailed photographic images of flies stacked on a desk.

The Somnambulist: Charles Yuen's Painterly Waking Dreams

Drew Lowenstein 2016

After sleepwalking through an afternoon of painting exhibitions stocked with retreads of Emil Nolde and Edvard Munch, I was awakened, ironically, by a show entitled CryptoSomatic Incantation. If painting is a form of dreaming in an active state, Charles Yuen has achieved it.

Charles Yuen

Fintan Boyle and Jennie Nichols 2014

Charles Yuen’s studio time is a friendly civil war between old comrades of the painter’s trade, figuration and abstraction. Sometimes –often– for Yuen to abstract is to decapitate. Minus head the former figure terminates in a swirling of color. Or, other way around, the head, minus figure, swirls in a field of sine waves emanating from beyond the canvas and wobbling left to right, right to left across its surface. These latter are a frequently used sign of Yuen’s, to let us know that the rendered figures, plus his own thematic interests and musings, will be kidnapped by some narrative of science or science fiction. The sine waves themselves are merely one member of a vocabulary of images on loan from astronomy, zoology, geology, anthropology and psychology or from the fictional siblings of any of those disciplines.

Charles Yuen—Honoluu to New York

2005. Pay attention to titles like “The World Trouser Center”, “Life Along Denial” “Oil Brain", Charles Yuen goes straight to the great crisis our world faces today. Will Condi Rice buy his “Ribbon on Her Shoes” or better yet commission Charles to paint the shoes she bought at Ferragamo?