Painting Relief

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  • Condition Report

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  • Provenance

    Dr. Owen Franklin, London
    Private Collection, London (by descent)
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • 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 colours, it is also the most common; it is the colour of tranquility, it is also the colour of grief.” Richard Lin

    Fusing the elegant geometry of western Minimalist sculpture with the sparse purity of Chinese literati painting, Richard Lin’s master work Painting Relief is a profound meeting of two of history’s most powerful aesthetic traditions. Created at the early apex of the artist’s career in 1963, this large scale piece is an outstanding constituent of the artist’s iconic White Series. Composed of delicately coloured oblongs of aluminium and perspex, Lin balances fields of monotone abstraction which seem to float independently of one another, delineated by acute variations in tone that also spark a dialogue with the concurrently developing movement of Op Art. Wall mounted, yet having a unique presence as relief, Lin crucially interrogates the boundaries between painting and sculpture to create a new space for art that transcends stylistic classification. Born out of his rare position as an artist who travelled between art centres of Asia and Europe in the mid-20th century, in Painting Relief we witness Lin’s profound contribution to a global art history in its nascent stages of becoming; bringing together the western essentialism of minimalist aesthetics with the holistic relations between the micro and macro as expressed in Eastern Philosophical tendencies.

    Born in 1933 to a prominent family in central Taiwan, from an early age Lin was immersed in multiple East Asian cultural aesthetics. As a child he was educated in the art of Chinese Calligraphy and between the ages of 6 and 12 he was placed under the tutelage of a family in Japan. Finally in 1949, at the age of 16, Lin began his independent education in Hong Kong. Following this deep familiarisation with the history of Eastern cultures, Lin made an important and defining move to England in 1952, going on to study Architecture at Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster) two years later. Whilst focusing on architectural studies in the day, Lin devoted his evenings to studying painting, taking influence from the developing styles of European modernism. This dual line of artistic enquiry is wonderfully demonstrated in the definitive structural integrity of the present work. Whilst Lin was drawn to the legacies of artistic movements such as Cubism and Constructivism, he simultaneously was inspired by the revolutionary architecture stemming from the Bauhaus, as well as movements which combined the two disciplines such as De Stijl. Privileging strong orthogonals as a means of constructing plastic space and structure, undoubtedly the work of De Stijl pioneer Piet Mondrian can be traced in the present work.

    As well as citing British artists such as Ben Nicholson, whose work he viewed at the Tate gallery upon his arrival in London in 1952, and where works also form part of the collection from which the present work comes, Lin’s first experimental paintings in the 1950s also drew from American Abstract Expressionists, drawing parallels with select artists of the Black Mountain college who drew from Eastern philosophies in their own work. In 1958 he began layering blocks of black and white on canvas to explore the elemental contrasts fundamental to painting. It was in the 1960s, however, that Lin took further steps of reduction: paring down his compositions and tonal choices to focus on the pure power of white, he gave birth to the iconic White Series, of which Painting Relief is a preeminent and outstanding example. Lin’s attentiveness to physical process and his conceptualisation of painting a pure object posited him a contributor to the most important artistic impulses that defined western art at this time. Indeed, when he started the White Series the term ‘minimalism’ had not yet been coined. Receiving widespread recognition in Europe, he participated in some of the most pioneering exhibitions of this important decade such as Documenta III in Kassel in 1964, which marked a turning point for minimal art in Europe, and the Carnegie International in Pittsburg in 1967 where he was awarded the William Frew Memorial Purchase Award alongside Francis Bacon.

    Akin to the revolutionary white paintings of Robert Ryman, or the grid paintings of Agnes Martin, the subtle variations of tone between the whites that dominate Painting Relief train and attune our eyes to appreciate acute nuances within the pared down palette. However, in contrast to these artists, Lin insists on the economic use of dark and blackened blocks, anchoring the work at the peripheries and providing it with a more lyrical sense of balance. It is here that Lin expresses the influence of Eastern philosophy, in which form and emptiness work in polarised symbiosis to generate one another, like yin and yang. At a later solo exhibition in Belgium in 1970, Lin would clarify that his paintings evoke the fluidity and vigour so valued in the art of calligraphy, and that they embody the tenants of Taoism as expounded by the book of change; namely, that all existence springs from nothingness. Whilst audiences have often been quick to categorise Lin’s works as minimalist, Lin explained that they are also deeply analogous to the work of Northern Song Dynasty artist, Mi Fu (1051-1107). As evidenced in Painting Relief, Lin does not adhere to the dogma of Minimalism in its fullest, rather he is able to imbue this aesthetic with a peculiar energy and fluid sensibility that elevates the emotive capacities of the rational composition. Thus, bringing together the common tendencies of two historically separated artistic schools, Lin announces himself as a true pioneer who is sensitive and contributive to the aesthetic zeitgeist across geographic boundaries.

  • Catalogue Essay

    「白色是最平凡的顏色,卻也是最非凡的顏色;它不存在著顏色,卻也是顏色的總和;它是最雄偉的顏色,卻也是最普通的顏色;它是寧靜的顏色,卻也是悲傷的顏色。」
    林壽宇

    林壽宇《繪畫浮雕》這幅精湛的創作,融合了西方極簡雕塑中優雅的幾何以及中國文人畫中簡約的純粹,深入薈萃了東西方歷史中美學傳統的極致典範。創作於藝術家生涯早期的高峰1963年,這件大尺幅的作品是其最具代表性《白色系列》中十分傑出的作品。透過幾片仔細上了色的長方形鋁片及有機塑料所組成的構圖,它們看似懸浮在彼此之上,林壽宇藉此平衡了單色調的抽象,他更刻意以顯明的深淺差異來處理色彩,因而讓作品也與當時風行的歐普藝術運動震盪出另一番對話。作品雖然如同一般畫作掛在牆上,但卻有著類似浮刻雕塑的存在感,藝術家在此深究探索繪畫和雕塑之間的界線,試圖創造出一個超越風格分類的藝術新視野。身爲一位在20世紀中期往返亞洲與歐洲藝術圈的藝術家,從《繪畫浮雕》中,我們見證了林壽宇在全球化的藝術史萌生階段的深刻貢獻,他將極簡主義美學的西方本質主義,與東方哲學思想所表達在微觀與宏觀之間的整體關係,緊密結合在一起。

    林壽宇生於1933年台灣中部一個富裕的家庭,自幼便受到多種不同亞洲美學文化的薰陶。小時候,他即開始研習中國書法,在6到12歲之間,他寄宿於日本家庭。到了1949年,他則獨立來到了香港求學。在亞洲奠定下對東亞文化深刻體悟後,他在1952年做出了重要的決定性遷徙,前往英國,並在兩年後進入攝政街理工學院(現為西敏大學)攻讀建築。林壽宇利用白天時間專注在建築的研習,晚上則持續進行繪畫,從歐洲現代主義的影響出發,尋求自己的風格。林壽宇雙軌並進的藝術探究,正於本件作品中極致的結構完整性裡,完美地被體現出來。雖然他也受到立體派及結構主義的影響,但同時也從包浩斯革命性的建築設計獲得靈感,而將以上兩者結合的風格派,則更讓他深受啟發。作品中以強烈的透視法所建構出的造形空間及結構,無疑可以隱隱瞥見風格派先驅的皮耶・蒙德里安的風采。

    林壽宇1952年乍到倫敦之時造訪了泰德美術館,參觀了班・尼可森等英國藝術家的作品,他們以及一群在黑山大學推崇東方哲思的美國抽象表現藝術家,對於他在1950年試煉繪畫時皆多有影響。自1958年起,他開始將黑白色塊層層疊在畫中,探索繪畫中重要的元素對比。到了1960年代,他更進一步將其簡化:把畫中構圖及色調選擇降到更低限,專注在白色純粹的力量之上,林壽宇標誌性的《白色系列》因此誕生,《繪畫浮雕》即為該系列具代表性的精彩作品。藝術家對於實體過程的注重,以及對繪製單純物體的概念化,刻劃了他對於西方藝術當時追求的重要藝術範疇所做出的深遠貢獻。事實上,當林壽宇開始推行《白色系列》時,「極簡主義」這個名詞並還沒有被創造出來。他在歐洲獲得廣泛的認可,參加了許多在那個重要年代最具開創性的展覽,譬如標誌著歐洲極簡藝術發展轉捩點的1964年第三屆卡塞爾文件展、以及1967年在匹茲堡的卡內基國際展覽,他在該展與法蘭西斯・培根一同獲得威廉·福如紀念藏購獎。

    相近似於羅伯特・瑞曼革命性的白色繪畫、或是艾格妮絲・馬汀的以充滿了格線為主的創作,白色之間微妙的色調變化主導著《繪畫浮雕》,林壽宇用低限的色調重新訓練、調整觀者的眼睛,帶領我們去欣賞其中顯明的細微差距。然而,和那些藝術家不同的是,林壽宇堅持使用極少的深色或黑色色塊,以將視點定在邊角,為作品添增了一份略具抒情的平衡。在此亦顯露了東方哲學的影響:形體和留白在兩極共存之間相互生息,就像陰與陽的關係。他隨後在1970年比利時舉行個展時,曾經解釋到他的繪畫裡有著書法藝術中的流動與力度,也體現了易經所闡述的道教思維,特別是一切萬物皆是從虛無而生的道理。觀者往往很迅速地將林壽宇的作品歸類於極簡主義,他亦解釋到他的創作其實與北宋畫家米芾(1051-1107)有著深刻的類同。《繪畫浮雕》一作即佐證了這點,林壽宇並非亦步亦趨地完全走向極簡主義,他以極簡的美學觀點出發,再為理性構圖注入了一份獨特的能量及流動感,提升了繪畫中的感性成分,因此,他成功將兩個向來分開的藝術學派合流,林壽宇曾自譽是跨越地理界線、具高敏感度的時代美學精神先驅貢獻者。

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12

Property of a Private British Collector

Painting Relief

1963
signed, titled and dated 'LIN SHOU YU "PAINTING RELIEF" 1‧MAY‧1963' on the reverse
oil, perspex and aluminium on canvas
101.6 x 111.8 cm. (40 x 44 in.)
Executed on 1 May 1963.

Estimate
HK$2,800,000 - 4,800,000 
€314,000-539,000
$359,000-615,000

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Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+852 2318 2025

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 25 November 2018