LIN Yen Wei

ESLITE GALLEY is pleased to present “LIN Yen Wei” from November 14 to December 13, 2020, featuring new works made in 2020 by the artist. Lin Yen Wei is best known for his recreations of objects found in public places that are painted by amateur painters through an integration of photography and painting. “Just Like the Way You Are” and “Plaything Study,” two series shown in this exhibition, are Lin’s portrayals of cement animal sculptures and plastic toy animals, which he captured by the camera, then depicted on the canvas to show their bulgy eyes, weathered bodies and protruding lines running down the center of their faces in extreme details. With his work, Lin proposes an amalgamated artistic language to engender a discourse on multiple levels.

  • Exhibition Period:14 November  – 13 December 2020
  • Address:ESLITE GALLERY ∣ B1, No. 88, Yanchang Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City 110055, Taiwan

In an era of ubiquitous images, photography is connected to the most intimate part of our lives. Lin Yen Wei once noted the importance of the camera to him by calling it as his “second eye.” His creative process begins by capturing a subject from a unique angle through the lens, so that the subject’s head fills up the entire image and a powerful theatric effect is achieved. The animals’ eyes are often unfocused, their grins strained and silly, and circumstances desolate as if shrouded by clouds so thick that the sun could never penetrate. As a result, Lin forces his audience to antagonize over the bitterness of “everything will eventually be left behind by time” as both the gazer and the gazed. Lin’s second step involves superb painting skills akin to photorealism to show the touch, texture, luster and hardness of the cement sculptures and plastic toys using oil paints. In doing so he accomplishes what John Berger acutely observed in oil paintings: “Although the image in the painting is flat, the illusion effect hidden in it is more realistic than the sculpture, because it allows you to feel the color, texture and temperature of the object in the painting, as if it fills the space and fills the entire world.” Lin’s works are portraits (about life) and still life (about death) all at the same time, and since they drift in the ambiguous zone between photography and painting, his subjects transcend from being mere forms to mediators between experience and the outer world. In this way, Lin Yen Wei not only conveys nostalgia, lingering memories from childhood and the social and cultural context of the subjects, but also reveal a certain spirituality, or “a kind of spiritual consciousness that shines through my imitations of beings,” said the artist.

Lin Yen Wei’s “Just Like You the Way You Are” and “Plaything Study” series touch upon a part of art history that is rarely explored. The new interpretations and visual experiences he offer are like adventures, in which the most magical part lies in the opportunity for us to catch a glimpse of the “air” of the animals, just like the animula, the little soul of an individual, described by Roland Barthes; as well as the sense of time that Lin created with these images. As Lin once said in a statement: Time is unsolved mystery, and I am forever fascinated by the time proposed by photography and painting; I seek to interpret the kind of time I invent, chaotic and vast, for its embrace of photography, painting, memory and experience.

LIN Yen Wei uses digital cameras to capture close-ups of animal heads and busts. Using depth of field, he deploys a painting style similar to that of photo-realism in the late 1960s. The animals in his paintings are actually renderings of ready-made sculpture objects found in the human world, all of them domesticated without exception, and has even become a pet. Their image is both directly and indirectly influenced by the forms of Disney animals.

Although his portraits are not of man, LIN Yen Wei’s cheap and coarse animal statues touches upon the real world, alluding to the industrialization and commercialization of the contemporary life. Human existence has long become materialized and is continuously changing due to the high turnover rate of commodities. The animal statues in his paintings contain human-like eyes and smiles, and can be regarded as a zoomorphic portrayal of man’s self-alienation in an age of consumerism.