Li Chen

In the Taiwanese sculptor’s Eternity and Commoner, we get to see the crumbly side of his work—pieces put together as if to decay, the clay cracked and moldering, cheap wooden lattices revealed within, pieces held together with old bits of wire and rope. The pudgy, cherub-faced outlines from his work have their basis in Buddhist temple figures, but here those faces have mostly rotted away (along with hands and feet). Four figures from his 2008 Soul Guardians series are highly distressed; they look like something from an archaeological dig. Lost in translation may be a political subtext—empires crumble, leaders change, history is rewritten—that comes through more obviously in the large new Eternity tableau, which is something like a giant chess set. Occupying its own gallery, the clay-and-wood installation has at its center a 12-root ruling figure clutching diamonds (or some sparkly surrogate) in his arms. He, clearly, is the leader—perhaps the emperor of some forgotten or fictive dynasty who, again, looks like he was dug out of the ground. Nearby, resting in a glass case, is still another figure seemingly unearthed. The humble wooden skeleton of Commoner is intended to contrast with the crumbled grandeur of Eternity. For every single emperor, we know, there are millions of anonymous peasants. This one, representing the many, clutches a bit of wheat—another token of growth and decay, of the historical seasons that sweep away one dynasty and bring new leaders to power. BRIAN MILLER

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays-Sundays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursdays, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Starts: Feb. 18. Continues through April 15, 2012