One and Two

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  • Provenance

    Gwen Hughes Fine Art, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Brussels, Withofs Gallery, Richard Lin, 5 November - 5 December 1970 (printed on special exhibition catalogue)

  • Literature

    From Taiwan to China: Pioneers of Abstraction (1955 – 1985), exh. cat., Le Musée d’Ixelles, Brussels, 2017, p. 217 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “White is the most ordinary of colours, it is also the most extraordinary; it is the absence of colour, it is also the sum of colours; it is the most majestic of colors, it is also the most common; it is the colour of tranquility, it is also the colour of grief.” — Richard Lin

    Born into a prominent Taiwanese family in central Taiwan, Richard Lin left his hometown at the age of 16 to study in Hong Kong in 1949. In 1954, two years after arriving in England, Lin was accepted at the Regent Street Polytechnic to study architecture and art. After completing his studies, Lin chose to remain in London, where he continued to develop his art for over five decades; it was not until 2002 that Lin returned to Taiwan. His works are often categorised as minimalistic, however, he once remarked that “when I started to create the white series, the term ‘Minimalism’ was not yet coined.”

    Founded in the the post-war era of the sixties, Minimalism began as a response to Abstract Expressionism, which had dominated the fifties’ art scene. The Minimalists believed practitioners of Abstract Expressionism were guilty of an excessive sentimentality and proposed to eradicate the artworks’ lyricism. Using simple forms and emphasising the expression of two-dimensional space, the new school of thought allowed viewers to perceive work in a direct and authentic manner. By employing straightforward quadrilateral shapes, stripes, or cubes, Minimalists strove to express and compose their work using correct proportions and involving minimum incidents. Additionally, they avoided the use of concrete forms in an attempt to eliminate transferring their consciousness to the viewer. The Minimalists used tools such as repetition and equal distribution to focus on a pure and artistic development while minimising personal expression. Ultimately, their aim was to lead art back to its fundamental form; by restricting the artist’s imposition of their consciousness upon viewers, Minimalists believed viewers might once again be able to take an active part in the construction of the work. The influence of Minimalism goes far beyond the art of painting, sculpture, and installation; it has also made an irrevocable impact on architecture, design, music, and literature.

    Lin first saw the works of British artist, Ben Nicholson (1894-1982) while visiting the Tate Modern upon his arrival in London in the beginning of 1952. Nicholson’s abstract compositions had a lasting influence on Lin. As a child, Lin learned the art of Chinese calligraphy, and between the ages of 6 and 12, he was placed under the tutelage of a family in Japan. Lin’s early immersion in Eastern culture cemented his way of thinking. During his time in England, he studied Western architecture and painting, and was influenced by the major artistic movements in the sixties and seventies — such as De Stijl (of which Mondrian is the most well-known), Bauhaus, Cubism, and Constructivism. Triggered by the American Abstract Expressionist movement, and with his idea of art informed by both East and West, Lin began to meditate on his own cultural background.

    Lin began creating art in the late fifties from the ideals of an Abstract Expressionist. In 1958, he began layering blocks of black and white on canvas to compare and contrast darkness and light. In the sixties, he simplified the elements of his creation; he made use of more precise lines and gradually abstained from color until white was all that remained. This period marks the establishment of Lin’s artistic style and the birth of his most iconic series — the White Series. He continued to develop this series until he declared in 1984 that ‘painting is dead,’ then turned his focus to three dimensional arts. When observing Lin’s work, one sees undeniable elements of Minimalism. His work departs from representational forms, using only lines and squares to create a precise and rational composition; and his execution is so meticulous and careful that brushstrokes are undetectable. However, Lin’s work is readily distinguishable from other minimalist works. One distinctive characteristic of Lin’s art is his multitudinous use of whites — rich or diluted, heavy or light — which he applies in lines of varying length and width. He then pairs aluminum plates and the occasional, yet ingenious, strokes of red, yellow, gray, and black. Lin does not necessarily abide by the standards of Minimalism — he is not regulated by the purely logical use of geometrical shapes, nor is he insistent upon removing all emotion or denouncing lyricism. In Lin’s paintings, we see a greater energy; we feel presence within absence, and we perceive a fluid sensibility that flows beneath the surface of the rational composition.

    In 1970, during one of Lin’s solo exhibitions in Belgium, the artist and the gallery’s owner, Rene Withofs, had a discussion about the work. The rigorous and succinct paintings, Lin stated, were deeply rooted in Eastern culture and invoked the fluidity and vigour so valued in the art of calligraphy. When Withofs interpreted Lin’s work as an embodiment of Zen, Lin clarified that it was instead Taoist. Further, Lin offered that instead of categorising his work as Minimalist, it would be more analogous to the work of Northern Song Dynasty artist, Mi Fu (1051-1107). Having received his training in Europe, Lin’s work takes on the appearance of Western art, but its true meaning and fundamental aesthetics are entirely Eastern. Despite the work’s external, minimalist qualities, Lin stressed that his practice was more sympathetic with Mi Fu. Lin maintained that this Song Dynasty master’s abstract landscapes, created some nine centuries ago, resonated more deeply with his work in their illustration of the difference between seeing with one’s eyes and perceiving with one’s spirituality.

    In a catalogue for Lin’s 2010 exhibition at the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, the artist wrote the following words to reflect on his half-century-long artistic career: ’What is before us? There are not enough words to describe and no words to do so aptly. Anything can be something; there is no difference between anything, and anything is everything.’ These words perfectly elucidated the fundamental meaning of Lin’s art. Chinese painting differs from Western painting in that it does not concentrate on the techniques of focal points and perspective; instead, through the utilisation of ink’s wetness and dryness — its richness and diluteness — artists are able to create works that transcend time and space. Chinese aesthetics heavily emphasize a spirit and concept that cannot be seen, but only perceived. In Lin’s art, we perceive a unique artistic language, born from an amalgamation of Eastern and Western culture.

  • Catalogue Essay

    「白色是最平凡的顏色,也是最偉大的顏色;是最無的顏色,也是最有的顏色;是最崇高的顏色,也是最通俗的顏色;是最平靜的顏色,也是最哀傷的顏色…。」-- 林壽宇

    出身於台灣中部望族,1949年16歲時林壽宇離鄉負笈香港求學,輾轉於1952年抵達英國,1954年進入倫敦綜合工藝學校接受建築及美術的教育訓練,其後並留在當地持續發展創作,直到2002年遷居回到台灣,整整超過五十寒暑的異鄉生活。林壽宇的創作常被歸納為極簡主義,但林壽宇曾經表示;在他開始創作白色系列之時並未聽過這個詞彙。

    極簡主義是二戰後於六十年代興起的藝術形式,起因是為了對抗五十年代抽象表現主義,極簡主義者認為抽象表現主義過於濫情,主張去除作品任何視覺效果以外的聯想,去除抒情性,以簡單的形式強調二維空間感,讓觀者對作品產生直接、單純的觀感。極簡藝術採用簡單的四邊形、條紋或立方塊等,以正確的比例及最低限度的事件去表現及組成並詮釋創作。消隱具體形像傳達意識的可能性,以重複或均等分布的手法,降低藝術家自身的情感表現、而朝向單純、邏輯的發展,為藝術的探討重新訂定方向。

    極簡藝術希望回歸藝術最基本的形式,意圖消弭創作者藉作品對觀者意識上的壓迫,極少化作品作為文本或符號型式出現的暴力感,開放作品自身在藝術概念上的意像空間,讓觀者自行參與對作品的建構。極簡主義的影響層面不止於視覺藝術的繪畫、雕塑及裝置表現上,對建築、設計、音樂及文學界也受到極大衝擊。

    林壽宇1952年初抵倫敦時參觀泰特畫廊,第一次看到班‧尼克森(1894 – 1982, 英國藝術家) 其結構抽象對他影響至深。他年幼時受中國書法教育,並在6-12歲時寄養於日本的經驗,奠定了東方文化及思維模式。英國求學建築與繪畫。受西方藝教育,並身處於六十、七十年代的藝術風潮。荷蘭風格派運動其中最有名的藝術家為蒙得里安、包浩斯、立體主義、結構主義等,均產生影響。建構了其藝術上的認知,美國的抽象表現主義引發林壽宇對自身文化及背景的深切思考。

    林壽宇從五十年代後期開始從事藝術創作時,以抽象表現主義風格為起點,1958年起,他開始以黑、白色調的大色塊堆疊於畫布上進行深淺對比的排列。六十年代起,其創作元素越來越簡化,線條越來越明確,顏色也漸漸在其畫布上退去,只留下白色,發展出代表個人風格的「白色系列」。此系列一直發展到1984年,他宣佈:「繪畫已死。」轉而開始創作立體作品為止。

    我們觀察林壽宇的作品時,的確在畫作及表現手法上看到極簡主義的藝術元素。他的作品抽離了具像,運用線條、方塊,以準確而理性的方式經營畫面,甚至細緻的執行到連同筆刷的觸感都大部分隱去。但與其他極簡藝術作品比較,林壽宇的畫作似乎又具差異性。視覺上直接的辨別,便是白,大量濃、淡、輕、重各種不同的白,以不同長短粗細的線條、鋁板,偶而在畫面上加上紅、黃、灰、黑的線條畫龍點晴。不像極簡藝術極至主張的邏輯性數學幾何,或情感與抒情的抽離,在林壽宇的畫作中,我們看到了更大的能量,和「無」中的「有」,與隱藏在理性畫面中的;流動的感性。

    林壽宇曾於1970年時在比利時的一場個展中,與畫廊主雷內‧威舍斯對談,自述其創作,作品中嚴謹、簡潔的結構表現,和他東方文化根基是相連結的,並提到書法中所重視的氣與勢,在其作品中也可以透過這些幾何圖案中感受。身為西方人的畫廊主人,以「禪」來理解其創作,但林壽宇則表示,對他影響的是「道家」,並認為用極簡主義來規範他的畫,不如以中國宋代的米芾(1051 – 1107,北宋畫家)來比擬會更貼切。

    接受西方藝術訓練,其創作的外在型式為西方的語彙,但作品內涵及所傳達的;更深層次的美感,則是不折不扣的東方文化。林壽宇認為,與其說他的畫是極簡主義,不冋說他的藝術是連結到900年前,米芾抽象山水所要表達的意境,即是眼見與靈見之間的差異。

    在他2010年於高雄市立美術館的五十年創作展中,我們可以看到其親筆在展覽圖冊上的文字,開宗明義的為自己五十年的藝術生涯寫下:「我們的前是什麼?書不盡言;言不畫意。什麼就是什麼,一切無分別,一即一切。」即闡明其藝術的底蘊。中國藝術尤其在繪畫方面,沒有西方藝術的焦點透視法,慣常以單色墨的濃淡乾濕,創造出跳脫時間與空間限制的作品。審美尤注重眼睛所看不到的「氣韻」和「意境」。在林壽宇的藝術中,我們可以感受到其融合中、西方文化,而發展出來;屬於其獨特的藝術語言。

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16

Pioneers of Modernism: A Selection from The Scheeres Collection

One and Two

1968
oil on canvas
30.5 x 30.5 cm. (12 x 12 in.)
Painted in 1968.

Estimate
HK$90,000 - 150,000 
€9,700-16,100
$11,500-19,200

sold for HK$937,500

Contact Specialist
Jonathan Crockett
Deputy Chairman, Asia and Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Asia
+852 2318 2023

Isaure de Viel Castel
Head of Department
+852 2318 2011

Sandy Ma
Head of Sale
+852 2318 2025

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 27 May 2018