Chinese Fauve

Lin Feng-mien

Paintings of Lin Feng-Mien
(1900 – 1991)

Exhibition: March 1, 2003 – May 24, 2003
Reception: March 6, 2003, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

The Chinese Culture Foundation is proud to present this first U.S. solo exhibition of Lin Feng-mien.

Lin Feng-mien was born in 1900 in Meixian in China’s southern province of Guangdong, and was one of the earliest Chinese artists to study in Europe. He arrived in Paris in 1919 and attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. While other Chinese artists of the 20th century embraced Western academic realism as their model, Lin immediately was inspired by the progressive Post Impressionist art movements and early on adopted European painting techniques. He was particularly drawn to the Fauve painters, especially Matisse, Marquet, Derain and Vlaminck.

Lin Feng-mien

In 1926, Lin returned to China a committed modernist. He became the director of the National Hangzhou Art Academy, one of the most important art schools in China. He attracted a large following of other progressive artists and intellectuals, some of the most famous 20th century artists were his students; Li Keran (1907-1989), Wu Guanzhong (b. 1919), and Zao Wouki (b.1921) – who still lives and works in Paris.

For most of his life, Lin was inspired by his time in Europe. He early on sought to reconcile the principles of traditional Chinese painting and the Post Impressionist style of France. His work is a blend of the School of Paris and Chinese scholar painting. Lin’s work is based on the hsieh i style, blended with the color and emotional intensity of his French contemporaries. He began producing large modernist oil paintings on canvas and soon came to his distinctive melancholy and introspective style, synthesizing Chinese and Western art. Usually working in the square format, his paintings show a heavy emphasis on ink and color washes; compositions are tight with little unpainted surface, and the application of bright color is often a found feature. In the 1950s, all this was declared “bourgeois, elitist and corrupt” by the Chinese communist party, and was replaced with art based on Socialist Realism. Those who championed “art for art’s sake”, like Lin, were seen as decadent. Like many artists of his stature, he was incarcerated and struggled against during this period. His paintings were burned and he was even compelled to destroy his own works in order to avoid trouble. In 1977 he left Shanghai and settled in Hong Kong where he lived until his death in 1991.

Wylie Wong curator, CCC gallery

Thank you’s to Gloria Tai, Leland Jung, Y. Mei Lam, Darrell Leong and the staff and board at CCC.

Special thanks to Mr. Tchi Chu Woo, lender to the exhibition.

Lin Feng-mien