Gallery: SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery
Artist(s): Michael Anastassiades
Opening / Event Date: 29 Mar, 2019
Closing / End Date: 30 Jun, 2019
Friday, 26 January 2018, 6 to 8pm.
26 January – 28 February 2018
Hanart TZ Gallery proudly presents “The Delayed Everyday” by Lin Tao, a solo exhibition of lacquer art by Dalian-based artist Lin Tao, opening on 26 January 2018. The exhibition will run through 28th February.
As inspiration for his creative work, Lin Tao constantly searches for, collects and preserves stories from one of the most ordinary forms of popular media—the newspaper. Many local news articles and their accompanying photographs depict everyday mishaps endured by the common people: traffic jams, industrial accidents, governmental snafus, etc. These small disasters of urban life are generally regarded as trivial, without either political or historical significance, and are easily overlooked and forgotten. Yet Lin Tao believes they can act as reminders to his audience to pay closer attention to issues of social morality and the yearning for a better life. He reverses the tendency to trivialize these stories by transforming images from news photos into intricate, opulent works using complex, natural materials and techniques that have a long history: mother-of-pearl inlay and natural lacquer.
Traditionally, lacquer art featuring mother-of-pearl inlay is decorative and eye-catching, but Lin Tao takes this technique to a unique extreme, creating works in which the mother-of-pearl inlay covers the entire lacquer surface, so that the images are almost overwhelmed by, and even absorbed into, the opulent sheens of the inlay and the aesthetic beauty of the form. Yet the ultimate effect is to give the original, mundane news images a more powerful, vital form, so that they now seek to burst out from the picture frame and completely captivate our attention.
The labour-intensive nature of working with these materials and the beauty of the resulting images reflect the both artist’s intention and his position: by giving a new voice through art to the insignificant incidents that make up the reality of the common man, Lin Tao engages in a renewal of reality, and infuses his works with a deep level of significance for our times.
Restoring the Sensory World
The many different techniques used in lacquer art all share a common aesthetic: the creation of an object that is at once opulent and elegant, dazzling and refined. There are some exceptions to this rule, as for example in the alternative aesthetics of a textured earthen feel, produced by mixing large amounts of ground pottery tile with lacquer; but this is outside of the main practices of lacquer art. Lacquer works featuring mother-of-pearl inlay are particularly luxurious and eye-catching, and artist Lin Tao takes this technique to an extreme, creating works in which the mother-of-pearl inlay covers the entire lacquer surface, so that the images are almost overwhelmed by, and even absorbed into, the opulent sheens of the inlay. This approach is a conscious choice by the artist, expressing a particular artistic point of view and sensibility. His use of lacquer in his art reflects the spirit of a certain kind of working process.
Through his process, Lin Tao is telling his audience that the purpose of his works is to preserve that which we are constantly discarding and forgetting. The extraordinarily labour-intensive nature of his work makes a stark contrast to the fleeting nature of the ordinary events he is portraying, and at the same time helps make manifest the hidden significance of events that on the surface seem to have no deeper meaning. The artist does not explicitly define for us what he means by ‘social consciousness’ or ‘people’s living conditions’; rather, he only reveals that he is using these artistic techniques to bring out the ‘artistic nature’ of these ‘events of no profound significance’, leaving his audience in a kind of suspense.
Over a period of many years, the artist has been collecting old newspapers, and his artworks contain many images culled from old newspaper photos of events that have long passed into the obscurity of time. Thus, in order to understand what kind of things can be transformed into something ‘artistic’, the position the artist uses in determining his selection is of key importance. The numerous layers used in creating lacquer ware serve to conceal the nature of the original mould over which lacquer is applied, and in the final product it is transformed into a work of refined beauty. As for Lin Tao, the ‘mould’ he uses in his work is comprised of once-newsworthy public images, which he has selected from among thousands of old news photographs. Taken as a whole, the stories these photographs tell — whether concerning weather changes, traffic incidents, industrial accidents, government shake-ups or the various small disasters of daily life for the common people, to the general public they all seem to be result of some kind of cosmic force, because they are beyond their human power to control. Together, these news stories constitute the mundanity and helplessness of daily life. Disseminated through the daily media, they become entertainment for the masses, but they also represent the frequency to which the common people’s sensibility is tuned. Every day the news media exploits the hurts which have become part of normal life, to the extent that they become meaningless and boring — even death itself just becomes another story.
This explains why Lin Tao introduces the power of art into these stories. Significantly the news report he selects is always old news that has lost its timeliness; yet at the same time what he is confronting is the permanent condition of contemporary society. His artworks are a testament to his refusal to become oppressed by the darkness, meaninglessness and destructiveness of everyday life. His opulent artworks created with mother-of-pearl inlay are both astonishing and deeply appealing. Through the power of an art form that requires intense amounts of labour and commitment, the artist transforms fleeting, unpleasant news events of every kind into harmonious, luminously beautiful compositions that intimate permanence. One could say that this series of artworks is actually a single work in which the artist both confronts the reality of these ubiquitous news photos and at the same time rejects the deficiencies and helplessness that infect daily life. Lin Tao seems to be proclaiming that the meaning and beauty of life come from the act of positive creation. In this way his true work is that of restoring the sensory world.
January, 69th year of the People’s Republic
(Translation by Valerie C. Doran and the Author)
Lin Tao was born in Dalian, Liaoning Province, in 1976. He graduated with a master’s degree in Lacquer Painting from the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in 2008, where he teaches currently as a lecturer.
2018 Lin Tao: ‘The Delayed Everyday’, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong
2017 Chinese (Xiamen) Lacquer Painting Exhibition, Xiamen Museum of Fine Arts, Fujian, China
2017 Ningbo (Beilun) National Youth Lacquer Painting Exhibition, Ningbo Museum of Art, Zhejiang, China
2016 Hubei International Triennial of Lacquer Art, Hubei Museum of Art, Hubei, China
2014 Lacquer Art: Strait Lacquer Art Exhibition, Fujian Museum of Fine Arts, Fujian, China/ National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
2014 The 12nd National Exhibition of Fine Arts, Fuzhou Strait International Conference & Exhibition Center (FSICEC), Fujian, China
2008 The New Northeast Power: Young Artists Nominated Exhibition, Highland Gallery, Beijing, China
2004 The 10th National Exhibition of Fine Arts, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
2002 The 1st National Exhibition of Lacquer Painting, Xiamen Museum of Fine Arts, Fujian, China
2002 Lacquer Painting Exhibition in Beijing International Art Biennale, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China