New York - Fou Gallery is pleased to announce that the new exhibition Lin Yan: Gateway will be on view from December 2, 2017 to February 10, 2018. For this exhibition, Lin creates a total environment with ink and Xuan paper (Xuanzhi, or rice paper), representing the architectural elements of the early 20th century brownstone apartment of the Fou Gallery. Lin molds the architectural features out of ink and Xuan paper in the parlor room such as foliated moldings surrounding the windows, an embellished radiator, a hollowed-out fireplace, ornamental details of the ceiling, and a double door––the gateway to the gallery. Sculpted paper paintings will be installed in juxtaposition with this portal and the space’s windows. Negative spaces enclosed in these crafted paper become filled with spirituality awakened by natural and artificial lights. Lin changes our relationships with ordinary objects and enriches our everyday realities with art. The exhibition also presents some of Lin’s recent smaller works.
The relationships between architecture and space and between humans and nature have been recurring themes in Lin’s artwork. Rapid modernization and globalization have homogenized cities in the world: towering skyscrapers have risen from the ground and gradually spread out from the center of the cities. At the same time, Lin sensitively searches for diverse cultural elements in cities, such as remnants of walls in the demolished historic courtyard alleys in Beijing, surveillance cameras in the corners of galleries, intertwined water pipes in industrial buildings in Hong Kong, and pavement bricks carved with words and dates in the old districts of Brooklyn.
Handmade Xuan paper has been traditionally used for Chinese painting and calligraphy. Using crumbled layers of hand-made paper with ink, Lin casts daily objects and architectural elements into sculpted paper paintings and creates a paradoxical effect of a post-industrial feeling. As Lin suggests: “Xuan paper is renowned for its soft, fine textured and translucent quality. Its language resonates with my painterly sensation, and passion for space and color. The simple, primitive and imperfect quality of handmade paper penetrates one’s heart.” Since 2013, Lin Yan has been doing site-specific installations in public art spaces and alternative art spaces, in response to their specific architectural characteristics. Crossing the border between painting and sculpture, she activates various spaces by hanging works from the ceiling, placing them on the floor or incorporating them into the architectural elements. By changing the relationship between people and ordinary spaces she makes their formal function appear.
The apparently straightforward title of the exhibition, Gateway, indicates the gate and windows molded from Xuan paper and the pathway in between and implies everyday wisdom and philosophy. In Chinese proverbs, the word “gateway” refers to approaches and procedures for accomplishing a mission, usually indicating wisdoms learned from everyday experience. Various English versions of Tao Te Ching (D. C. Lau, 1963; Tam C. Gibbs, 1981; John R. Leebrick, 1980) use the word “gateway” to indicate the pathway of the Essential and the approach to all indescribable marvels. Similarly, Lin’s art is rooted in her encounters with daily life, but transcends the reality with multiple layers of interpretation, including respect towards traditional culture, the mourning of cultural breakage, concern about environmental devastation, and the response to drastic social changes. Combining the physical texture of the gate and the abstract vision of the pathway, Lin encompasses a gateway of the wonderful essence in arts and life.