Painting Relief

Art Installation

Exhibited in Documenta, 1964, this rare painting prompts viewers to reflect on aesthetic duration in abstract painting. Sponsored and lent for the CCA Biennial from China by Shin-Yi Yang (Ph.D., Art History, 2006) from his Richard Lin Collection.

Richard Lin (Taiwan, British, 1933-2011) is well-known for his dedication of his career to the development of the Painting Relief concept, which is unprecedented style that combines ideas from sculpture with the vocabulary of painting during the Post-War British art.

During his stay and work in U.K. from 1950s to 1970s, Lin used media such as aluminium and Perspex to create abstract forms,while also using thick oil paint to create palpable thickness on the canvas, resulting in a multi-dimensional composition. By treating paint as objects (or reliefs), and incorporating the tactile sensations of the lights and shadows created by these objects, a new painting experience apart from the Three-Point Perspective is created. Unlike other British artists, Lin stands out with his attention to the technicalities of painting. At the same time, he expanded the form and substance of how the colour white is used in painting. What makes Lin’s art unique is that his conception about white develops from Western modernism, and bridges it with substance from Eastern cultures as well. In Chinese paintings and philosophies, for instance, white is better seen as a kind of space than just a colour. In the Tai Chi diagram (also called the Yin Yang symbol), black and white represent the diametric ends of the universe.

Painting Relief, 1964, is one of three works which Lin showed at Documenta, 1964. This painting is a wonderful example of his concept and aesthetics discussed above. It is composed by the uses of four squares with different depths on the white background. The squares are made by aluminum and perspex. To him, the concept of “one is everything” in Eastern philosophy connects with the Western idea of “less is more”, turning his work into a vessel for both Eastern ideals and modern Western ideologies.

  • August 11 - December 23, 2018
  • Johnson Museum
  • Tuesday - Sunday, 11a-7p

Richard Lin (Taiwan, 1933-2011)

Shin-Yi Yang

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