中文

Art Critic (3)

Li Xianting

Since the beginning of the 1990s in Guangzhou, the first coastal city in southern China to be opened up, the artistic collective called the Big-Tail Elephant Group has been very active. The group consists of Xu Tan, Lin Yilin, Chen Shaoxiong and Liang Juhui. They do not hold a unified artistic viewpoint, but their common unwavering pursuit of art unites them in a city where desire and money prevail. 

 

Lin Yilin follows closely the urban Chinese population and the rapidly changing living environment. He uses the nuances of the urban living space as the starting point for his works, employing basic building materials, like bricks, and the most elementary of human motions such as standing, crawling, kneeling, walking and lying down. He also includes money, a reference to the dominating object of human survival needs. These three factors constitute the main features of his works. Simple brick walls embody his ideas about man's dilemmas concerning survival.

 

Lin Yilin's strength lies in his comprehensive experimentation with modern and contemporary approaches to artistic  expression, to which he introduces elements from architecture, installation, action art, to include audience  participation. The combination is realized in sculptural form, thus extending the conventional concept of sculpture.

    

Lin Yilin studied sculpture at Guangzhou Academy of Fine Art and maintains a great interest in the relation between sculpture and architecture. His sculptural works echo architectural form, which is why bricks are a favoured material. The early series entitled Ideal Standard House was constructed entirely of steel beams and bricks, structured to resemble a wall. This approach further characterizes several other works. The 'wall' is an important metaphor in expressing his vision of existence.

    

Later, Lin Yilin began to explore more deeply the problem of the modern living situation, still employing the brick. One Thousand Bricks & One Thousand Yuan represents a mixture of architecture, installation and sculpture: metal ladders form a framework, which is then filled in with bricks. One Yuan notes were placed between every two bricks, semi-embedded in the wall, left hanging half out. The wall was the centre piece for an interactive performance, during which he distributed the notes to the onlookers whilst simultaneously tearing down his wall. The work ends with the audience fighting over the money. In this way, his works are a successful test of social psychology: the worship of money.

        

Lin Yilin often incorporates objects like massage machines, television sets and products of the modern age into the structure of his walls. The most successful work, simply entitled Wall, set Lin Yilin himself within the wall, making his form part of the installation. The effect was unexpected - man becomes imprisoned in the wall and is part of the wall. Wall is one of his most representative works.

        

Lin Yilin has applied this approach to other works. In some cases, a hole the shape of a human body rather than the artist himself, is set in the wall, creating a human silhouette. This is a typical manifestation of 'the invisible existence' in ancient Chinese philosophy. Other works, which incorporate the form of the human body include I Am on the Right. Here, Lin Yilin kneels on a sculptural pedestal in a humorous imitation of the sculpted stone lions that once sat either side of the gates to imperial residences in ancient China. Stone lions were originally traditional gate ornaments for imperial palaces, but after the opening up of China, they become fashionable amongst the broad populous, mushrooming in front of restaurants and places of business, yet devoid of their once imposing air. This imitation of an imperial custom provokes amusement, but the joke in Lin Yilin's work is his imitating imitation.                      

 

 

CCAA 2000 catalogue, P.30