Richard Lin - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Sunday, November 28, 2021 | Phillips

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  • “White is simultaneously the most mundane and greatest of all colours; it is the most colourless and the most colourful; it is the most noble colour and the most common colour; it is the most tranquil colour, and the saddest colour too.” — Richard Lin

    In 1960, Richard Lin started transitioning from lyrical abstraction to the style expression of Western Minimalism. In only four years after beginning the White Series, Lin became the first Chinese artist to attend Kassel Documenta in Germany. Moreover, Lin was invited to represent the UK, a country that highly values pure descent—this was not only incredible during that isolated era, but it also marked a remarkable milestone in Richard Lin’s art career. Despite the similar style and colour awareness with Minimalism, Richard Lin believed that the spirit of the White Series was founded in traditional Chinese philosophy and connotations. Having grown up in a big family, Lin was cultivated by the Taoism Lao-Zhuang Philosophy which goes beyond the simplification of realistic objects and movements. 



    Piet Mondrian, Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red, 1937–42
    Collection of the Tate, London


    In a sense, the concept of Minimalism indeed coincides with Richard Lin’s ideas. The Western style focuses on eliminating all identifiable images while displaying objects or colours that invoke viewers’ emotions in the most fundamental way and basic style of point, line and surface. In contrast, Lin built onto such a framework by adding more profound Eastern connotations, differentiating the whiteness of colour layers, textures and weight like the ‘five shades of ink’. Lin’s work For Ann was created on exactly such a structure. He divided the rectangular space into nearly equal quarters. Then he applied neutral white paint to the upper and lower left quarters, which are then separated by an aluminum strip in between. Lengthwise, the aluminum strip that stretched into the right half adopted a more milky yellow colour, with a thicker colour block underneath it. With a colour tone warmer than the background colour,  the collage-like layers formed the 3D quality of a relief carving. Lin constructed a space that clearly displayed the textures of various whiteness—some were smooth and simple while others featured the granular canvas, highlighting the artist’s skillful applications in monochromatic paintings. On the canvas, there were fewer layers in the upper right space and its left and bottom segmentation lines than other space on canvas. This produced a visual depression that isolated the upper right space from the rest, presenting a new perspective. 



    Agnes Martin, Wheat, 1957
    Collection of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
    © 2021 Estate of Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


    Richard Lin has demonstrated an extremely rational structure by cutting, constructing and piling up different colour blocks in the simple Bauhaus style. He even used aluminum boards to enhance the distinction between ‘transparency’ and ‘opacity’ on the canvas. Sometimes, Lin named such works as ‘Painting Relief’. All of this serves the purpose of establishing order in the artist’s mind. It is an everlasting perfection preserved under an infinite comparison of virtuality and reality. The metaphysical space appears rational yet completely contradicts with Minimalism. It is a demonstration of the Taoism way of nature that projects everything in the world onto the universe of the canvas.


    • Provenance

      Marlborough Fine Art, London (acquired in 1968)
      Cunard Ocean Liner: Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2)
      Christie's, London, 11 June 1992, lot 36
      Crawford Fine Art, London
      Private Collection, Europe
      Acquired from the above by the present owner


For Ann

signed and dated 'LIN 13⋅SEPT⋅1968' on the overlap; further titled and dated "FOR ANN" 13⋅9⋅68.' on the stretcher; further signed and dated 'LIN 13⋅SEPT⋅1968' on the reverse; further signed, inscribed and dated 'RICHARD LIN "FOR ANN" (13 SEPTEMBER 1968) 1968' on the reverse of the frame
oil and aluminium on canvas, in artist's frame
101 x 102 cm. (40 x 40 in.)
Executed in 1968, this work is registered in the archives of the estate of Richard Linshow Yu.

Full Cataloguing

HK$1,800,000 - 2,500,000 

Sold for HK$2,268,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027
[email protected]

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

Hong Kong Auction 29 November 2021