LIN Yen Wei

What are the possibilities that lie between photography and painting? ESLITE GALLERY is pleased to announce LIN Yen Wei's Solo Exhibition in March, showcasing his surrealistic paintings that recreate images, including public sculptures in parks or collectible miniature toys, captured by a camera or mobile phone. One of LIN's recent works, Gazebo, explores architecture as a new subject matter. Regardless of the object he paints, LIN infuses a surreal ambiguity, where time seems to be a transparent layer covering the object's surface.

  • Exhibition Period:11 March - 8 April 2023
  • Address:ESLITE GALLERY ∣ B1, No. 88, Yanchang Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City 110055, Taiwan

Born in Pingtung in 1987, LIN Yen Wei received his MFA in art education and creation from the National Hsinchu University of Education. He currently lives and works in Hsinchu. This solo exhibition presents a range of works created since 2019. Apart from the continuation of his ongoing series Just Like The Way You Are and Plaything Study, the subject matter of his recent works has become more organic and life-oriented, such as man-made buildings or plaster statues. Despite the shift to new subject matters, LIN remains committed to the nucleus of his work: the matching or conflicting relationship between the color tone of a photograph and the material of the object. "Whether it is architecture, landscape, statues, miniature toys, or daily life scenes, posed or random, the photos that surround us have a life trajectory. I just incorporate this trajectory into my works."

In the Plaything Study series, LIN first poses miniature toys before "retelling" them through the painting process, transforming them into entities that evoke a completely different set of emotions. On view at this exhibition, See You Again #4 depicts an old taxidermy on display at Hsinchu Zoo, seen through a glass; and Is It You No. 3 comes from a moment when he walked through a home decor store and snapped a photo of its interior decorations with his mobile phone, which included a porcelain rooster figurine with its beak slightly open. LIN is drawn to objects that evoke ambiguity and emotions, whether they are fleeting moments glimpsed in passing or perceived through the barrier of glass, with the lines between reality and virtuality blurred. "Photos taken through glass have a distinct color block-esque and spatial image quality. And I enjoy using painting to downplay this image-centric quality," he explains.Regardless of the light source—natural light, lamps, or artificial light—LIN's images are infused with a feeling of continuity across time. Rabbit, a painting portraying a rabbit-shaped nightlight, emits a distinctive peculiar atmosphere.

Gazebo and Snail-2 are based on cement sculptures found in parks and farms. Gazebo comes from an image LIN captured in low light but with the flashlight on, resulting in a high-chromatic effect that enhances the monotonous yet vivid color of the gazebo. Willow Branch draws inspiration from the willow branch held by the bodhisattva Guanyin, but with the weeping willow transformed into an upright plant. The painting retains the artificial, unnatural appearance of the painted surface of the metal material that mimics the weeping willow.

LIN's works are characterized by a strong element of artificiality, whether he is painting landscapes, taxidermy, or plastic toys. Through photography, he captures a moment in time where the object's life appears to come to a standstill. He then extends this sense of time through painting, creating a surreal tension between artificial objects, photography, and the criticality of painting.

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.

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