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b. 1961, China

Lin Yan Biography

Lin Yan, with xuan paper and ink as her major materials, creates installations and painting sculptures equipped with architectural characters. She has innovated the conventional roles of ink and paper: wrinkling, breaking, tearing, pasting become her creative vocabulary; the tradition of five colors of ink is given new life when the light and shadow in space come into play. Black and white, firmness and softness are harmoniously juxtaposed; each quality implicates the other, like the constant negotiation of void and fullness in tai chi, or the yin-yang balance in traditional Chinese philosophy.

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Lin was born into a distinguished family of artists in Beijing in 1961. Her maternal grandfather, PANG Xunqin, and maternal grandmother, QIU Ti, were the pioneers of Chinese modern art; her parents, LIN Gang and PANG Dao, were the first-generation artists nourished by Chinese high art education. As the third generation of the family, LIN Yan has inherited their aesthetic spirit since childhood, but she was confident to establish an idiosyncratic artistic vocabulary. After graduating from The Central Academy of Fine Arts, LIN pursued further studies at L'École National Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1985. Then, she obtained her master's degree from the Department of Art Studio at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, USA. When her home country was mired in social turbulence, LIN was allowed to enjoy the freedom of creation in New York, committing herself to exploring and experimenting with the materials.

In 1994, LIN returned to Beijing, and to her dismay, the once familiar city was virtually ruined in urban modernization. The urge to respond to the changes swelled inside her. She began to cast, with paper, the partial objects of old buildings in Beijing, such as roof tiles and rivets, so as to crystalize her feelings for traditional culture in her works. To Beijing series can be viewed as her signature work at this stage. Meanwhile, she entered what would be called "the black period" of her career, when she took pains to elaborate the gradations and strength of black the color. In 2005, she creatively transformed xuan paper into her major material, expanding the aesthetic domains of contemporary art. The seemingly fragile material nonetheless enables her to express "what the artist perceives to be true and authentic." As she explained, "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." Her choice of material also reflects her personal philosophy: "Even though paper may endure a thousand year, it can return to the nature ultimately. Not a hint of trace left. This is how I want my life to end as well."

Also interested in spatial and architectural forms, Lin has created many large site-specific installations lately. These works—sustaining the contrast between their massive appearance and their light weight and feel—embody Taoist attitude towards being and nothingness. As the art critic Zhijian Qian noted, Lin seems to raise the question through her creation: "can the visual memory of these timeless elements sustain the tradition of classical Chinese painting itself?" In the kaleidoscopic world of contemporary art, Lin Yan seizes the oldest and modest material to unfold her everlasting affections for her surroundings, culture, and history.

Text courtesy Eslite Gallery.

Lin Yan Featured Artworks

Closing the Circle 闭合圆圈 by Lin Yan contemporary artwork mixed media
Lin YanClosing the Circle 闭合圆圈, 1994Ink, resin, Xuan paper
173 x 173 cm
Pearl Lam Galleries Contact Gallery
Brooklyn Note #3 布鲁克林的音符之三 by Lin Yan contemporary artwork mixed media
Lin YanBrooklyn Note #3 布鲁克林的音符之三, 2006Xuan paper
118 x 79 cm
Pearl Lam Galleries Contact Gallery
Jetlag 时差 by Lin Yan contemporary artwork mixed media
Lin YanJetlag 时差, 2017Ink, Xuan paper, cotton thread
57 x 83 x 8 cm
Pearl Lam Galleries Contact Gallery
Carry On 继续 by Lin Yan contemporary artwork mixed media
Lin YanCarry On 继续, 2016Ink and Xuan paper
102 x 9 x 9 cm
Pearl Lam Galleries Contact Gallery
Brooklyn Note #4 布鲁克林的音符之四 by Lin Yan contemporary artwork mixed media
Lin YanBrooklyn Note #4 布鲁克林的音符之四, 2006Ink, Xuan paper
122 x 79 cm
Pearl Lam Galleries Contact Gallery
Sky #2 by Lin Yan contemporary artwork works on paper
Lin YanSky #2, 2016Xuan paper
330 x 1600 x 520 cm
Eslite Gallery Contact Gallery

Lin Yan Recent Exhibitions

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