Lin Tianmiao: “Est-ce permis? (Est-ce possible?)”
Galerie Lelong (13, rue de Téhéran 75008 Paris) Nov 14–Jan 11, 2014
Galerie Lelong is currently hosting Lin Tianmiao’s first solo exhibition in Paris. Over twenty of the artist’s works are on show—some in her distinctive trademark style, others représentatives of her recent work. The first exhibition hall features a “sculptural” installation of 13 skulls. Lin Tianmiao began using bones in her artistic practice ever since her mother’s passing three years ago moved her to meditate on life, death, and separation. She stretches and compresses these symbols of life and finitude, mutating and intruding upon them with various implements—from steel bars to trombones, from irons to shovels, finally wrapping them in skeins of gold or silver. This is her humorous interpretation and criticism of the state of human existence, and of the way society deploys different mechanisms such as medicine or education as means to control and make impositions of people.
The focal point of the exhibition is undoubtedly at one end of the gallery where the entire wall is covered by the piece “The Same for N Times”. From a distance, bright golden threads form a scene seemingly composed of exploding nebulae intersected by radial lines. Delicately embroidered pink and white circles of various sizes are scattered across the canvas. Upon closer inspection, one discovers images of butterflies, spiders, beatles, bones, and skulls layered upon one another in a dense array. Infinite emptiness pierces through the ornate radiance: both an end and a beginning, destruction and rebirth.
Not only do Lin Tianmiao’s works reveal a delicate sensibility, her choice of materials and colors have over time also become more luxurious with her use of silk damask, gold and silver thread, and cashmere. Though many of her compositions are inspired by ancient Chinese paintings, her images brim with tension and conflict. Here lies the charm of her creativity: Whether looking at a monochromatic or abstract work, closer inspection always reveals the rich layering of a mélange of different shapes, sizes, textures, materials, cables, and bones. The picture plane shifts from the abstract to the concrete, from softness to steely hardness, from density to emptiness, from the flat plane to the three-dimensional—in short, full of vitality and infinite variety.