Art & Culture
March 12, 2021

The Proud Youth

A new work from the Vancouver Sculpture Biennale has appeared on the False Creek seawall at the foot of Drake Street – a shocking bit of red against the aquamarine palette of the city.

The Proud Youth by Chinese artist Chen Wenling is named after a popular Wuxia (Martial Heroes) novel, The Smiling, Proud Wanderer (Xiao Ao Jiang Hu 笑傲江湖) – literally to live a carefree life in a mundane world of strife.  It’s always read as a political allegory.

From a distance, it’s initially difficult to make out what’s going on.

Close up, “the red figure, naked and free, fully reveals his honesty and fearlessness. The cheeky expression and arresting pose are a celebratory call to the audiences, inviting them to embrace their inner child.”

Or, of course, to photograph it.  If not already one of the most popular Instagram locations in the city, it soon will be.




In another era (c. 1966, in front of the Vancouver Sun building*), this work would shock (naked boy, penis!).  Today, not so much.

Along with another popular piece brought to the city by the Biennale (A-maze-ing Laughter, at English Bay), there are now two contemporary works that explore the Asian body.



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