Emerging on the Chinese contemporary art scene with works that consider the ubiquitous presence of the internet and futuristic technologies, Ye Linghan is a multidisciplinary artist based in Beijing.Read More
Born in Lishui, China, in 1985, Ye Linghan belongs to a post-1980s generation of artists whose work defies categorisation and cannot be pinned to a particular style or medium.
Ye Linghan studied traditional mural painting and drawing at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, graduating in 2009. He gravitated, however, towards animation. In 2008 he produced a video, titled Last Experimental Flying Object, by combining a digitally processed photograph and watercolour animation. Whales, airships and submarines float across an abandoned factory in an impossible intrusion between worlds.
Even in his video animations his academic training comes to bear in the incorporation of painting and drawing, which also spill out to his works on paper and canvas.
Ye Linghan works across video, animation, installation, drawing and painting, building up Neon fauna and primitive faceless figures in surreal, chimerical narrative-less universes. His seminal works explore the influence of virtual reality and the internet and conceptualise a near-future reality characterised by artificial intelligence.
Ye Linghan's Gold.Circle.Tiger (2014), follows on from the artists early animations like After the Spelling of the Names of God (2012) and Rotation and Chrysler (2013), which presented vertically rotating three-dimensional animated objects – a coin and the Chrysler building respectively.
The enigmatic hand-painted animation begins with the abstract forms of a long amber chain and patch of Gold. As they move around the screen a struggling tiger, dangled upside-down, appears amidst the blur of movement. The tortured tiger then looks out to the viewer, taking over the whole screen, as golden rings overlap the animal before everything turns into glowing rings that rise to the top of the frame. Then, briefly, a small white tiger appears on an amber bridge before the video comes to its conclusion with white circles popping up and filling a rectangle in the middle of the screen.
The animation and series of paintings produced in tandem, are a cry for freedom and the pursuit of the ambitions of youth in our contemporary, restrictive, rules-oriented society. The helpless tiger of our younger ambitions is trapped by the constraining circles of communities, routines and spheres of influence.
Since 2016 Ye Linghan has worked on a series of acrylic paintings, drawings and video works entitled 'Lucy', which presents an outlook on the future reality with the emergence of year-one of artificial intelligence in 2017. Named after the moniker attributed to the earliest human being discovered, Lucy is the series faceless fictional protagonist, navigating a futuristic dream-like universe.
Given alphabetically organised titles Ye Linghan's 'Lucy' paintings take leave from Matisse's 'cut-outs', and incorporate collage, acrylic paint and graffiti stencils to create layered structures with sharp edges and bright fluorescent colours. The result appears highly artificial, not human-made.
The images of primitive plants and silhouetted beings are built from imagery Ye selects online and abstracts down to single colours or gradations based on their inherent information. In works like LUCY-C-019 (2018) the artist incorporates textual references in the form of online code. In each iteration the paintings take in and express the constant flux of information engulfing our everyday lives online, shaping the identity of future humans.
In the second episode of Ye Linghan's 'Lucy' exhibition series, shown at Boers-Li Gallery, Beijing, Linghan presented his digitally-simulated video work Dance, Tattoo, Data Carnival (2018). Echoing Henri Matisse's Dance (1909–10), five dancing figures are emblazoned with images taken from online. The work explores visually the question of who controls our self-perception, self-conscious and the conception of our identities in a world of highly manipulative digital algorithms.
Discussing similar themes, Ye Linghan's later digital video triptych Three Studies for a Crucifixion (2021), riffs off of Francis Bacon's 1962 piece by the same name. The work appeared in the final episode of the 'Lucy' exhibition series, Lucy Finale: Cyber Sketching, Recommended for You, Maximalism (Spurs Gallery, Beijing, 2021) which meditates on how the digital 'recommended for you' culture dictates and shapes human behaviour.
Ye Linghan has been the subject of both solo and group exhibitions.
Solo exhibitions include: Lucy Finale: Cyber Sketching, Recommended for You, Maximalism, SPURS Gallery, Beijing, China (2021); LUCY III: Replication, HdM GALLERY, London (2018); GOLD CIRCLE TIGER, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Hong Kong (2022).
Group exhibitions include: Vitality of Variables, How Art Museum, Wenzhou, China (2020); Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Australian Cinémathèque, Australia (2013); +Follow, MoCA, Shanghai (2011); Reshaping History, Today Art Museum, Beijing (2010).
Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2022