Richard Lin - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Thursday, December 3, 2020 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Richard Lin swiftly rose to fame in 1964 when he represented the United Kingdom in the documenta III exhibition alongside renowned contemporary artists from around the world. One of his works exhibited that year combined aluminum sheets with canvas, integrating the artist’s minimalist ideas and purist approach in exploring the sense of spatiality produced by different colour facets. Featured at auction this time is Painting (lot 206)— Lin’s minimalist classic created in Europe that same pivotal year of 1964 with aluminum sheets, canvas and paint.


    In Painting (lot 206), the artist painted a white ground across the canvas then pasted aluminum boards onto the white canvas and coloured them in two different shades of gray. The composition is deceptively simple: in reality it has been precisely calculated by Lin, who overlaid a dark gray square on the light gray rectangle, followed by even larger white rectangles. Verticality and horizontality are delineated by straight lines in this image. While the forms of Lin’s works were influenced by Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian, Lin’s spiritual world distinguished him from other artists. Having studied Taoist philosophy his whole life, Lin internalised this understanding in creating his works. “To be bent is to be straightened” is the Taoist idea that knowing to make correction and introspection is what makes straightness. “To be in need is to possess, to be abundant is to be confused”—namely that having fewer desires is what leads to true gain. Lin’s spiritual world is reflected in his works, which not only create a harmonious sense of spatiality through simple colour facets and lines, but also mirror the real world via simple materials. This breaks away from the depiction of space and time in his previous artworks. Lin’s creative process reached new heights by eschewing conventional shapes and colour palettes.


    The year 1958 marked the beginning of Lin’s decision to become a professional artist. The Sun Moon Series from 1958 (lot 207) and Flow-2 from 1959 (lot 208) are known as the creations that launched Lin’s artist career. Back then, he demonstrated exceptional talent for an artist only in his mid-twenties. He was a descendent of the prominent Wufeng Lin family in Taiwan, and these profound influences from a scholarly family complemented his Western academic training, as a high school student in Hong Kong and then a university student in London in 1952.


    At the beginning of his creative process in the late 1950s, Lin started out on the path of Abstract Expressionism. However, his path towards minimalism can be observed. In Sun Moon Series  (lot 207), the simple upper and lower semicircles are derived from nature. The most intriguing element in Lin’s works is the simplification and purification of magnificent landscapes and surging emotions. With two simple strokes and pure whiteness, Sun Moon Series (lot 207) simplifies the boundless sky and earth, subtracting elements to reach the most extreme and essential limits of painting. On the other hand, the expressive oil painting Flow-2 (lot 208) are from 1959 features a seemingly random splash of Chinese ink on paper. These works demonstrate Lin’s diverse explorations and expressions at the beginning of his artistic path.

    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, One is Everything: 50 Years of Work by Richard Lin, 15 May - 26 September 2010, p. 109 (illustrated)



signed and dated 'Linshow yu 1959' lower right
oil on paper
50.8 x 63.5 cm. (20 x 25 in.)
Painted in 1959.

Full Cataloguing

HK$100,000 - 250,000 

Sold for HK$327,600

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 4 December 2020