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Lin Yan: The Gateway to the Future

[W]hen I envision the recent [works] of Lin Yan, I am tempted to relinquish the excessive burden of theory in favor of a more clear and resonant idea: that maybe the future is not so far away. Maybe, in fact, the future is within our grasp, within the silent interludes given to memory, time, and history. 
–"Lin Yan: The Gateway to the Future" by Robert C. Morgan

Installation View of Sky #2 at ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan, 2016


The transmission of art as a form [of] knowledge is something rare today, given its competition with the abundance of spectacles and popular entertainment. Whereas Lin Yan's paperworks do not move, spectacles project a constant flickering, a perennial strobe that keeps us in a sublimated condition of panic and off-balance. 


Echoes in Silence, 2006, Xuan Paper, Gauze, 190 × 170 cm


Chating #4, 2016, Xuan Paper, Wax and Cotton, 79 x 45 cm


Clear Cloud, 2014, Ink, Xuan Paper, 61 × 61 × 5 cm


Lin Yan will cast metal floors and walls of bricks not simply as decorative or textural patterns in the formal sense, but as signifiers of her past and of China’s past as well. In addition, the artist further speaks of the contrasting elements of metal as having an industrial significance and paper as a more delicate cultural component directly associated with Eastern aesthetics, writing, and philosophy.


Installation View of To Beijing #1-Cradle Song at ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan, 2016


Installation View of To Beijing #4 (Detail) at ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan, 2016


Installation View of To Beijing #4 (Detail) at ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan, 2016


[O]ne may visually absorb the feeling of dark ink.


Raining Inside #2, 2006, Ink, Xuan Paper, 180 × 168 cm


LIN Yan: “The richness of blacks is like ink in Chinese painting. Black is a complex and sensitive color. It’s very powerful when you handle it well.”


Raining Inside#1, 2006, Ink, Xuan Paper, 250 x 99 cm


From the perspective of Abstract Expressionism, this recalls the painter Robert Motherwell's use of black, especially in his series of "Elegies to the Spanish Republic." While Motherwell emphasized the tragic and somber connotations of black, Lin Yan's perspective is much different.

Generally, from a Chinese perspective, one reads black as having less to do with tragedy than fertility, the place where things grow out of the darkness, which is an essential Taoist teaching.


Gray City 2015 (Detail), 2015, Ink, Xuan Paper, String Light, 44 × 53 cm


Dew (Detail), 2015, Xuan Paper, Ink on Linen, 193 × 147 × 40 cm


LIN Yan: “I use paper and ink for their ability to record intricate effects of wear and tear on the cultural and material fabric of our contemporary world, and, at the same time, to restore culture and peace within conflicts. Despite the feeling towards things lost, struggling, or being destroyed, there is also beauty, strength, hope, and persistence in these sculpted paper paintings.”


Hutong #1, 2012, Xuan Paper, Ink, 41 × 41 cm


Hutong #5, 2016, Xuan Paper, Ink, 51 x 41 cm


In the Tao Te Ching, much emphasis is given to the details of what one sees in nature, and nature – in contrast to Western philosophy – is less in opposition to culture [than] an extension of it.


Both Sides, 2014, Xuan Paper, Wax, 41 × 41 × 3cm


Chating #3, 2016, Xuan Paper, 44 x 45 cm


Hutong #4, 2016, Xuan Paper, Ink, 35.5 × 26 × 9 cm


Hutong #4 (Detail), 2016, Xuan Paper, Ink, 35.5 × 26 × 9 cm


[A]s the Tao te Ching makes clear:

That which is called Tao / is indistinct and ineffable

Ineffable and indistinct, / yet therein are objects

Deep-seated and unseen, / therein are essences,

The essence is quite real, / therein is the vivid Truth.

It is always problematic to put such ideas within an outside context and still allow them to resonate with their own special meaning, a task once given to centuries of Chinese scholars who contemplated the application of the "way" in relation to everyday reality.


My Pond #2, 2016, Xuan Paper, String Light, 20 × 20 × 3 cm


Brooklyn Note 2016, 2016, Ink, Xuan Paper, Gauze, 33 × 27 cm


City View #4, 2012, Xuan Paper, Wood, 38 × 33 cm


Hutong #3, 2016, Ink, Paper, Wire, 34 × 30 × 29 cm




VIP Preview | 11am—6pm, Friday, 8 April 2016

Opening Reception | 3pm, Saturday, 9 April 2016

Installation View of "LIN Yan" at ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan, 2016


Date | 9 April—8 May 2016

Venue | ESLITE GALLERY | 5F, No. 11 Songgao Road, Taipei 11073 Taiwan

Opening Hours | 11am—7pm, Tuesdays—Sundays (closed on Mondays)

See artworks online

This text extracts many passages from "Lin Yan: The Gateway to the Future"
by Robert C. Morgan


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