Helwaser Gallery is pleased to present Origin Point, a solo exhibition by Chinese-born, Brooklyn-based artist Lin Yan. Lin Yan is known for her site-specific installations, sculpture, and two dimensional works, which she produces through working with Xuan paper, a type of handmade paper traditionally used for Chinese calligraphy and ink. Within the last fifteen years, Lin Yan has worked almost exclusively with Xuan paper, approaching it as a medium in and of itself, emphasizing its materiality through crumbling, folding, layering, and casting them into various forms. Often executed without color, Lin Yan’s works locate significance in the textural and affective qualities of Xuan paper, serving as meditative and poetic statements on her chosen subjects.
In this exhibition, Lin Yan responds to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and the broader conversation on the ongoing climate emergency through the installation Alioth (玉衡) (2019). The work consists of assembled cast reliefs of tree branches and trunks; these reliefs are made through a particular process of layering Xuan paper on the bodies of trees until they harden and fragment, and are later mended, stitched together, and re-constructed to form the installation. Attached to the ceiling, the work’s fragile, delicate appearance stands in sharp contrast to the qualities of solid groundedness usually associated with actual trees. The installation also consists of an arrangement of fine threads on the ceiling, executed in a pattern that takes after that of the Big Dipper, which the work’s namesake (the Alioth star) is part of. Reflecting the artist’s continued engagement with narratives surrounding ecological disaster, and the use of her appointed medium to address them, the work presents an awareness of two essential components of the living ecosystem – the sky and earth – and the unity between them. The fifth work in the artist’s public installation series, entitled Regeneration of Hope (希望重生) (2017- present), Alioth (玉衡) builds on the series’ contemplation of the relationship between nature, man, and the universe.
In Both Sides of the Story #2 (2014), as well as Leaves are Gone #3
(落叶 #3) (2014-2019), Xuan paper was used to cast reliefs of tree bark;
stained with black ink, these works resemble petrified tree trunks,
forming a somber counterpoint to the formal lightness of Alioth (玉衡). Alongside these works is a series of vertical paper works, entitled Common Words,
bearing the imprinted word “empire.” These works were created from
casting bricks, which the artist found within Brooklyn, onto Xuan paper,
allowing the conceptual weightiness of these words to stand against the largely empty ground of each work. Also on show are a selected series of smaller-scale works, such as The Lotus Pond (2016) and Ending Game II (2018). Alongside her engagement with environmental issues, these works provide more insight into Lin Yan’s broader practice. Through their imagery, structure, and lyricism, Lin Yan’s works point their viewers towards the relationship between man, nature, and cosmology.
About the artist
Lin Yan (b. 1961, Beijing) graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, and pursued her studies further at L’École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, as well as the Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. Her work has been included in multiple exhibitions worldwide, including The Latent Paradigm (2019), Today Art Museum, Beijing, China; Mind the Gap (2019), The Delaware Contemporary; Crisscrossing East and West: The Remaking of Ink Art in Contemporary East Asia (2017),
Museum of Contemporary Art, Yinchuan, China; The Dark Matters (2017), White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney, Australia; The 3rd CAFA Museum Biennial (2016), Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing, China, amongst others. Her work is included in the permanent collections of many public institutions such as Chengdu Contemporary Art Museum; Deutsche Bank Art Corporate Citizenship; Museum of Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China; National Museum of China, Beijing, China;
Long Museum, Shanghai, China; and White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney, Australia, among others.
About the gallery
Based along Madison Avenue, Helwaser Gallery presents mid-career and established artists, including Anton Ginzburg, Boedi Widjaja, Christina Kruse, and Lin Yan. It also specializes in the work of post-war masters, such as Tom Wesselmann, Alexander Calder, Adolph Gottlieb, and Helen Frankenthaler, among others. In 1986, the gallery was founded in Paris and initiated significant exhibitions, including a retrospective on Jean Dubuffet (1996), and others on French cubist masters, notably George Braque,
Jean Metzinger, and Pablo Picasso. In 2008, Helwaser Gallery marked its inaugural relocation to New York with the group exhibition Red, exhibiting Hans Hofmann, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat amongst others. In 2019, Helwaser Gallery reopened its present space with a public exhibition program, presenting internationally recognized artists. The gallery program emphasizes a dialogue between contemporary art and modern art historical movements.
About the exhibition
Opening Reception: Thursday, November 21, 2019 from 6-8pm
Exhibition Dates: November 21, 2019 – January 30, 2020
Venue: Helwaser Gallery
Conversation with Robert C. Morgan: Wednesday, December 4, 7-9pm
Presented by Helwaser Gallery
Exhibition Walkthrough and Conversation with Robert C. Morgan
Wednesday, December 4, 2019, 7-9pm
Art critic Robert C. Morgan will be leading a walkthrough of the exhibition and sharing his responses to Lin Yan’s new work. Over the years, Morgan has written extensively on Lin Yan’s practice. The walk-through will be followed by a short reception.
Robert C. Morgan, Ph.D. is knowledgeable in the history and aesthetics of both Western and Asian art. Morgan has lectured widely, written hundreds of critical essays (translated into twenty languages), published monographs and books, and curated numerous exhibitions. He has written reviews for Art in America, Arts, Art News, Art Press (Paris), Sculpture Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, and Hyperallergic. His catalog essays have been commissioned and published by distinguished galleries, such as Gagosian, Pace, Sperone Westwater, Van Doren Waxter, White Cube (London), Kukje (Seoul), Malingue (Hong Kong), and Ink Studio (Beijing). Since 2010, he has been New York Editor for Asian Art News and World Sculpture News, both published in Hong Kong. Has written books and edited anthologies, published by Cambridge University Press, George Braziller, Inc., McFarland & Company, Inc., and Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
Courtesy of Helwaser Gallery. © Lin Yan. Photography: Jason Mandella.