Born in Beijing, China, Lin Yan was good at painting since childhood. Her grandfather, Pang Xunqin and grandmother Qiu Ti were the pioneers of Chinese modern art. Her parents, Lin Gang and Pang Tao, studied in the Soviet Union in the 1950s and graduated from The Central Academy of Fine Arts in China, who later taught and opened the fourth studio of Oil Painting Department in the 1980s, promoted the development of modern and contemporary art, and at the same time surpassed their own status as mainstream realist painters and became unique in their abstract expression. As the third generation of the family, Lin Yan’s practice is deeply rooted in her family’s artistic spirit. She knows the price to be paid for artistic exploration, and therefore maintains indifferent to fame and fortune, stays away from the hustle and bustle, and develops her own independent artistic language.After graduating from The Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1984, Lin pursued further studies at L'École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1985. Then she obtained her M.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (1989). In 1993, she moved to New York and since then lives and works in New York.
Since the 90s, Lin Yan has broken through the flatness of painting and intervened in space in her artistic practice. Her works tend to be monochromatic in the three-dimensional framework, thus starting the "Black Period" that lasted for ten years. During the time, Lin Yan borrowed from the deep research and profound philosophy of Chinese ink painting. In 2005, she began to use the carrier of ancient Chinese painting—handmade Xuan paper as medium. With the simplest Xuan paper and black and white ink, she creates a sense of weight and layering. Installations with architectural features and sculptures with the painterly characters expand her artistic language and aesthetics. Thickness and thinness in the shaping of materials, and the harmoniously juxtaposed firmness and softness resembles the contrast negotiation of void and fullness in Tai-chi spirit, echoing the inner spirit of Chinese traditional philosophy. Lin Yan's works are heart-moving in a subtle and tranquil way, juxtaposing history, past and present and endowing minimalism the latitude of Eastern aesthetics.
Since 2013, Lin Yan has used space as a starting point and combined with architectural forms to create large-scale installations. For the first time, at the Prow Art Space of the landmark Flatiron building in New York, she created the large ink and Xuan paper installation Embracing Stillness. Through layers of Xuan paper, the change of natural light and the reflection of urban architecture fell on the snow leopard painted with charcoal and ink, creating an atmosphere completely different from the frenzied flurry of urban life outside. At the end of 2013, she created ink and Xuan paper installation Sky in Beijing Yuan Art Museum to explore the concept of “Heaven and Man in One” and call attention to the environmental damage caused by large-scale commercialization and industrialization after the reform and opening up. In 2014, Lin Yan’s solo exhibition Dispelling the Clouds at Tenri Cultural Institute covered the entire ceiling with layers of ink-colored Xuan paper painted with flying birds in charcoal mixed with plastic bags and the rubbing of tires. The light behind it seemed to breed vitality. It makes people feel that the world is not divided by the national boundaries, and everyone has struggles and responsibility. Lin Yan has recreated the Sky series in different spaces such as Fou Gallery (New York), Kwai Fung Hin Gallery (Hong Kong), Eslite Gallery (Taipie) and White Rabbit Gallery (Sydney). Beginning in 2017, she started her new series—Regeneration of Hope, named after the Big Dipper, as site-specific installations in various institutions in different cities, including Yinchuan Museum of Contemporary Art (Yinchuan, China), Jinji Lake Art Museum (Suzhou, China), Wanying Art Museum (Shijiazhuang, China), Leo Gallery (Shanghai), and Minsheng Art Museum (Beijing). The Big Dipper is composed of seven stars of Ursa Major and is often used as an important indicator of directions in the Northern Civilization. The new project continues to point to the relationship between man and nature and the universe, and presents Lin Yan’s reflection and hope for the future. Lin Yan has held solo or group exhibitions at important international institutions, including the Museum of Chinese in America (New York), Brooklyn Museum (New York), The National Art Museum in China (Beijing), the Dresden State Art Collection (Germany), He Xiangning Art Museum OCAT Contemporary Art Center (Shenzhen), etc. Her works have been included in the permanent collections of public institutions, including Deutsche Bank Art Corporate Citizenship (New York), White Rabbit Gallery (Sydney), Chengdu Contemporary Art Museum, Long Museum (Shanghai), Pang Xunqin Museum (Changshu), National Museum of China (Beijing), Museum of Central Academy of Fine Arts (Beijing), etc. Her recent exhibitions include:A Material Lineage: Pang Tao and Lin Yan, Pearl Lam Gallery, Shanghai (2019); Lin Yan: Inverted Shadow, Leo Gallery, Shanghai (2018); Lin Yan: Gateway, Fou Gallery, New York (2017); Lin Yan, Eslite Gallery, Taipei (2016); Lin Yan, Wei Jia: A Garden Window, Kwai Fung Hin Gallery, Hong Kong (2015); Lin Yan: Beyond Xuan, Officina, Brussels (2014).
The Park, the Path, the Process | BK Stories, Arthur Wei presents,courtesy BRIC TV Filmmaker Arthur Wei documents the artistic process of his parents, Wei Jia and LinYan, two established contemporary artists living in Brooklyn.
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