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LIN Xi biography | artworks | events

Bucolic Charms by Linxi

Contemporary art is a reflection of contemporary lifestyle.

The Chinese today are very different from their parents generation and they even more distant compared to the Qing dynasty era. Our generation today can no longer say we’re 100% Chinese as we all enjoy the benefits of dual education and partake in extravangances of Western lifestyles. When we enjoy dim sun and a cup of Chinese tea in the afternoon but prefer to sip wine over t-bone steak in the evening---is it any wonder then that modern-day Chinese painters strive to incorporate Western/modern elements into their art? Lin xi is a successful example of this fusion.

At first glance, his subject matter is still very Chinese in essence. Having grown up in Guangdong province but a native of Teochew, he blends these two cultural emotions into his paintings. The fondness of painting everything red (red is very auspicious to the Chinese), the black and red furniture, the Chinese painting screen panels are unmistakably Teochew. Yet the imported tiles, the cemented courtyard, the modern curtains, the blue and white porcelain vases and jars, or a scroll of Chinese painting in the gentleman’s studio equipped with books, ink and brush---they are reminiscent of the Guangdong clan of the last century who were not only affluent but also refined in scholarly pursuits.

Unlike the typical Chinese painting which emphasized voidness and harmony of dark vs white (yin and yang) concept. Lin indulges in an exuberance of colours, and freely adopts Western perspectivity to lend depth to his subject. But th emood and overall emphasis on linear strokes are esentially Chinese in flavour, and he uses Chinese brushes to good effect, giving more subtlely to his lines. As with Western art, he fills the whole painting with vivid colours, yet he cleverly  ‘breaks’ it with spatial interplay of objects and proceeds to  ‘dissect’ the composition with vertical or horizontal red colour.

In terms of mood, Lin forgoes the lofty and panaromic view typical of traditional Chinese landscape paintings. Instead, he chooses to zoom-in like a camera focussing on a certain close-up section of household. The courtyards and architecture are basically faithful to the ancient scene, but he imbues it with a surreal colour scheme, adding a certain lyrical charm like a scene from a fable. This naivety of vision in mixing the real with the unreal evokes a kind of escapism which most modern-day city dwellers can only idealise in their dreams.

Linxi is also adept in story-telling. A pair of shoes, a pot of tea, bird cages, a fan, fruits on the table---they all suggest human existence. Yet very seldom are human subjects depicted, leaving us wondering who the inhabitants are or how would they actually look? This paradox of wholeness of colours and objects against the emptiness created by a missiong persona is the essence and quintessence behind his central theme. Domestic animals running loose in the house serves to lend a folkish element and adds life to the scene, whereas the abundance of flowres and vegetation, th eflow of a stream or fishes in the pond enhances utopian, carefree, detached and bucolic existence, offering the viewer a certain kind of therapeutic effect!

In this modern-day world whree life can be a drudgery and everybody a battle, Linxi offers us a temporary respite, an escapade into the realm of imaginative where tradition coesists with modernity, where East meets West, neither side being sacrificed or compromised---only the spirit of humanity and harmony with nature is emphasized and glorified. Is it any wonder then that both Westerners and Orientals alike love his paintings?


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