Helwaser Gallery presents Lin Yan: Origin Point
Opening Reception: Thursday, November 21, 2019 from 6-8pm
Exhibition Dates: November 21, 2019 - January 30, 2020
Conversation with Robert C. Morgan: Wednesday, December 4, 7-9pm
Helwaser Gallery is pleased to present Origin Point, a solo exhibition by Chinese-born, Brooklyn-based artist Lin Yan. Lin Yan is known for her site-specific installations, sculpture, and two dimensional works, which she produces through working with Xuan paper, a type of handmade paper traditionally used for Chinese calligraphy and ink. Within the last fifteen years, Lin Yan has worked almost exclusively with Xuan paper, approaching it as a medium in and of itself, emphasizing its materiality through crumbling, folding, layering, and casting them into various forms. Often executed without color, Lin Yan’s works locate significance in the textural and affective qualities of Xuan paper, serving as meditative and poetic statements on her chosen subjects.
In this exhibition, Lin Yan responds to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and the broader conversation on the ongoing climate emergency through the installation Alioth (玉衡) (2019). The work consists of assembled cast reliefs of tree branches and trunks; these reliefs are made through a particular process of layering Xuan paper on the bodies of trees until they harden and fragment, and are later mended, stitched together, and re-constructed to form the installation. Suspended from the ceiling, the fragile, delicate appearance of the work stands in sharp contrast to the qualities of solid groundedness usually associated with actual trees. The work is supported by fine threads, arranged in a pattern that takes after that of the Big Dipper, which the work’s namesake (the Alioth star) is part of. Reflecting the artist’s continued engagement with narratives surrounding ecological disaster, and the use of her appointed medium to address them, the work presents an awareness of two essential components of the living ecosystem – the sky and earth – and the unity between them. The fifth work in the artist’s public installation series, entitled Regeneration of Hope (希望重生) (2017- present), Alioth (玉衡) builds on the series’ contemplation of the relationship between nature, man, and the universe.
In Both Sides of the Story #2 (2014), as well as Leaves are Gone #3 (落叶 #3) (2014-2019), Xuan paper was used to cast reliefs of tree bark; stained with black ink, these works resemble petrified tree trunks, forming a somber counterpoint to the formal lightness of Alioth (玉衡). Alongside these works is a series of vertical paper works, entitled Common Words, bearing the imprinted word “empire.” These works were created from casting bricks, which the artist found within Brooklyn, onto Xuan paper, allowing the conceptual weightiness of these words to stand against the largely empty ground of each work.
Also on show are a selected series of smaller-scale works, such as The Lotus Pond (2016) and Ending Game II (2018). Alongside her engagement with environmental issues, these works provide more insight into Lin Yan’s broader practice. Through their imagery, structure, and lyricism, Lin Yan’s works point their viewers towards the relationship between man, nature, and cosmology.
About the artist
Lin Yan (b. 1961, Beijing) graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, and pursued her further studies at L’École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, as well as the Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. Her work has been included in multiple exhibitions worldwide, including The Latent Paradigm (2019), Today Art Museum, Beijing, China; Mind the Gap (2019), The Delaware Contemporary; Crisscrossing East and West:The Remaking of Ink Art in Contemporary East Asia (2017), Museum of Contemporary Art, Yinchuan, China; The Dark Matters (2017), White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney, Australia; The 3rd CAFA Museum Biennial (2016), Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing, China, amongst others. Her work is included in the permanent collections of many public institutions such as Chengdu Contemporary Art Museum; Deutsche Bank Art Corporate Citizenship; Museum of Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China; National Museum of China, Beijing, China; Long Museum, Shanghai, China; and White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney, Australia, among others.