I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...
The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...
The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...
Many years ago, as political protest and dissent shook his native Taiwan, artist Michael Lin made a conscious decision to turn inward for inspiration. The vicissitudes of domestic life—rather than the political currents shaping the public sphere—gave way to what have become Lin's signature flower motifs. Using the patterns and shapes on four traditional pillows as aesthetic touchstones, Lin created his first floralscapes have become a signature motif of his work. Those floral motifs—highly attuned to Taiwanese visual language—have ironically proved to be some of the most politically and culturally resonant of Lin's work.
Michael Lin (林明弘) is a multi-disciplinary artist known for his large-scale installations and iconic floral motif. Having gained recognition in the 1990s for his immersive approach to exhibitions, Lin’s artworks generally embody a tongue-in-cheek commentary on contemporary cultures of commercialisation and commodification.
The most recognisable element of his work is the recurring appearance of floral patterns, inspired by Taiwanese textile design from the 1960s, which Lin associates with the social and political atmosphere of the country. The patterns usually appear as murals painted directly onto architectural surfaces, or painted on materials such as wood or metal. Variations of the pattern have enveloped gallery interiors, museum façades (such as the exterior of the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2010) and daily objects such as furniture and tableware, challenging traditional notions of painting and its function. In Lin’s installations, painting ceases to be a passive receiver of the viewer’s gaze and instead occupies the space of the viewer.
Recurrent themes of nostalgia, personal history and collective memory are embedded in Lin’s work. For the exhibition What Difference a Day Made (2008) at the Shanghai Gallery of Art, Lin reconstructed a local Shanghainese store inside the gallery space. He painstakingly catalogued the objects found in the actual store and displayed them in crates as if precious artefacts; these mundane domestic objects served as vehicles of counter-amnesia in the face of rapid urbanisation in Shanghai.
For his 2012 solo exhibition Model Home: A Proposition by Michael Lin at the Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, Lin transgressed the boundaries of exhibition space by hiring labourers who lived on-site while installing the wall painting for the exhibition. He also challenged the notions of authorship and institutional authority by inviting other entities, such as architecture firm Atelier Bow-Wow and video artist Cheng Ran, to collaborate on the project. Alongside music, film and performance, the exhibition consisted of the workers’ shacks, paintings of folk patterns derived from the workers’ blankets, and a street-style canteen.
Lin also challenges and transforms the status of objects through acts of appropriation and dislocation. This was exemplified in his 2016 solo exhibition Michael Lin: Locomotion at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Manila. For the show, he asked pedicab drivers in Manila to replace the tarp hood of their vehicles with his printed floral design, and displayed patchwork banners made out of the original tarps in the museum. The same floral pattern also covered the museum’s interior surfaces in an uninterrupted flow, across multi-textured surfaces in drawing, painting and print.
In 2017, Lin produced a site-specific work for the exhibition Enjoy at the Chiostro del Bramante. Produced in collaboration with students from various art institutes in Rome, the 188-metre-square floor mural transformed the Renaissance courtyard into a symbolic flower garden.
Lin earned a BFA at the Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles (1990) and completed his MFA at the ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena (1993). In addition to the Rockbund Art Museum, he has had solo exhibitions at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2017); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2005); MoMA PS1, New York (2004); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2003) and more. He has participated in multiple biennials including the Lyon Biennial (2009), Gwangju Biennale (2002), Liverpool Biennial (2002), Istanbul Biennial (2001) and the Taiwan Pavilion of the 49th Venice Biennial (2001). Public collections that house Lin’s artwork include the Rockbund Art Museum; Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung; and Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, among many others.
Xu Qu graduated with a MFA in Fine Arts and Film at Braunschweig University of Art, and currently lives and works in Beijing. Xu Qu's art practice investigates aesthetic considerations behind social connections. He attempts to dismiss any unnecessary elements that distract from the theme, using a minimalist approach to simplify the picture. The...
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