Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Spirit of One-legged Deva In Memory of Lee Kuen-Lin

part 1

part 2

part 3

part 4

part 5

part 6

                                                                              part 7

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Love Mountains 。 Lee Kuen-Lin


He loved mountains, painted mountains, and rested in the mountains.
Text by Hsiao Rei Qiung
Translated by Wesley Shih Yu Kaelan Shih Yu

I was going to write a commentary for artist Lee Kun-Lin for his upcoming exhibition. However, an unexpected event came up and caused a slight delay. By the time I was ready to pick up the pen, Lee Kun-Lin's spirit had already dissolved and settled into the mountains.

Lee Kun-Lin started to earn prestige from the art world by forming an artists' group called the "Border Culture" in 1992 at the Tainan Municipal Cultural Center, which would soon demonstrate an introductory exhibition. At this point he had just graduated from the Chinese Culture University, specifically, the Department of Fine Arts. After joining and leaving the army, he officially began his creative career. It was the beginning of a competitive age, and the formation of "Border Culture" was intended to contradict the Cultural Center next door. The core concept of the "Border" was "flexible and informal" thinking compared to the "central and traditional" concepts of the Culture Center's art forms in society. This concept of the Border Culture represented the challenge this group faced both to society and to their own artistic self expectations.

Lee Kun-Lin's creativity began with his unique surrealistic style of blending images into symbols.
Lee Kun-Lin's style differed from his college peers in that his art reflected the inner strength and self-identity imprints of life, while classical artists concentrated on painting still lifes and the classic cattle bone/plaster sets.

His various arts, including: The Scourge of Angels (1989), Trap  (1991), Nightmare (1991), Slaughterhouse  (1992), Depression Landscape  (1992), Show Business! Events? (1992), Lust and Hell (1992), Marriage in The Graveyard (1992),  and One Shop Garden (Eden) (1992), all demonstrated the frank and sincere views he had towards the social phenomenas and infinite mysteries of nature. One can easily sense a trace of his childish qualities and lust for sex in his cold brush strokes and bold colors.

During the 1993 exhibition, he developed his integration of art forms with the series called "You Wei de Feng Jing" (The Gloomy side of Life) which incorporated the traditional Chinese horizontal scroll like painting style. During this stage of his life, his work contained many micro organism like symbols. This was the beginning of the Lee-Style period. In this period, his prior emotional feelings were replaced with a new profound thinking behind the scene.

In his prelude for his exhibition, he wrote:
"No doubt it is in human nature to create beautiful and melancholic landscapes with multi-tropism involved, but to be truly creative, one must realize that there is no limit in presenting one's own candid views and thoughts in one's works. Are these landscapes, nudes, still lifes, really worth an artist's lifetime's work? Does it matter if the artist paints hundreds or thousands of these paintings? Is there a meaning  of beauty for painting these redundant forms of art, or is there really a personal reason for retaining the natural beauty in these paintings that the artist continues to paint them?"

He continued:
"All these questions cause me to ponder over my next series of works. A truly creative artist cannot paint without a conscience. Painting without a conscience leads to dull and lifeless paintings with no vitality! These perfect but repeating paintings no doubt please the majority of the world, but do we really need to please the majority? Perhaps we should, and perhaps we shouldn't. Or maybe we shouldn't answer at all. Such a delicate question requires more discussion."

In the year 1994, during the month of the Chinese New Year, Lee Kun-Lin's daughter was born, and as a father, Lee Kun-Lin was deeply touched by the mystery of life. As a result, reproduction became the main theme of his exhibition that year.

In this exhibition's prelude, he wrote:
"On the fifth day of the Chinese New Year, my daughter was born. After taking the first picture of her, I started to experience strong emotions and was inspired to create a true life's work on this form of life, who can cry, laugh, be hungry, make trouble, pee and poo, sleep, breed, and reproduce."

He added: "Human beings produce more humans, who produce art works, the same art works which inspire ideas, ideas which give spirit in life. This life then produces human beings, and the cycle is repeated. We create arts to show the spiritual sides of our lives, which can express our body's scope in a broader way, resulting in more people, life, and physical/spiritual symbols representing the eternal condition of the body...eventually solving problems even when our bodies decay and disappear."

The "Breeding" series of art follows the style of the "You Wei de Feng Jing" series, with the exception that the human element begins to replace the purely scenic landscapes, thus adding more interior and decorative appeal, and yet adding a touch of reality in the world. Thus, Birth is the most important theme to represent this period.

In 1995, the "Coffee House Meditation" series represents another turning point in Lee Kun-lin's artistic style. This new style reverted back to his original colorful image style, the symbolic shapes of which easily remind us of Miro's surrealistic world. That is, such works are highly personal and secretive. During this period, Lee Kun-lin seemed rather content to retreat to his studio, and happily created a world of his own which reflected the crazy topics in life.

Between 1996 and 1997, Lee Kun-lin attempted to work on some installation arts. This attempt was undoubtly, of great importance in Lee Kun-lin's artistic life. It seems like these installation arts helped open up a communication channel to the outside world, connecting Lee Kun-lin to artists of the same era.

However, the most important meaning of Lee Kun-lin's transition from flat paintings to installation arts lies in the establishment of clearer language and thoughts of him. Some people believe that the change in materials/media also changes the form of the art language, and therefore, the description of the content/thinking is also altered. This does not apply to Lee Kun-lin.

Lee Kun-lin's installation arts, keeping his painting's theme of sexual reproduction, continued to grow in numbers during that period. He does not present the story in a thoughtful manner, but rather in a free manner so as to bring out the desire of inner life. It seems that Lee Kun-lin continued to receive great satisfaction and achievement from this same process, as seen in his works "The Bud and the Pupae, a one way narrative" [2000] and "Metamorphosis" [2000] during this period. With his continuous involvement in installation arts, many of the previously "ambiguous" and "chaotic" elements from his flat/plane paintings became clearer, and at the same time, still retained the significant personal characteristics of his style, as seen in the 2001's "Imprinting" series. This series seemed to have added new interesting elements, such as rubber engraving works, which is actually done by cloth acryllic in the media material. These simple, yet determined brush strokes gave a rather powerful statement. Instead of showing the uncertainty of the artist's inner side, it added more hints of the real world. His work in this period included: "A Walk in the Forest which has encountered...", "Is it Male or Female", "It's a Dog", "A couple", "Fish-phase", and "A Flower Garden", all of which were from the year 2000. There were still elements of organic reproduction code, and yet, a touch of free, humourous, and sarcastic spirit was added. Lee Kun-lin was apathetic, and fully at ease.

Immediately after this series, Lee Kun-Lin started to show a seemly more relaxed art style, reflected in his “Parallel Flying Clouds” series in his “Gloomy” art period, where he entered a mind set of mid-age understanding. With a style similar to Chinese landscape painting, Lee Kun-Lin began to step out of the inner universe of individualism, and into a broader outer universe. Paintings of this period were no longer depressed and autistic. They were instead, composed of more self confidence and maturity. “Round Trip (2002)”, “A Dream of Wushan (2002)”, “The Cloud (2002)”, were all poetry based on immortal content. Other works such as “Legend by Hill (2002)”, “Wushan Clouds (2002)”, and “Encountering the Sun (2002)” clearly show the increased thickness and accumulation of a myth continued from “The Roland Documentary (2001)”, and “Eagle’s Nest (2001)”.

From 2001 to 2004, Lee Kun-Lin’s artistic life entered into his mature peak. Works in this period presented certain forms of change, and always burst with a gust of strong vitality. Although in terms of technique, there was always a glimpse into Western masters such as Picasso, however, there were also Chinese brush lines and unities of soul materials. His scenery reflected his heart, as shown in his works of 2003: “Bean and Speakers”, “Wan”, “Knights and Trojans”, “Foot Cavalry”, “Red Thread”, “Postman Handed the Ball of Wool”, and “Harmonica Playing”.
This series of works, via different line colors, repeated overlapping strokes, and presented a surreal sculptural form that skillfully combined abstract expressionism and geometric structures in one, should be considered the most important representative and masterpiece of Lee Kun-Lin’s works.

During this period, Lee Kun-Lin began to have his own gallery of works. Life began to stabilize. The amount of work he did greatly increased, and the exhibition shows ranged from initially just Taiwan, to China.

However, the development since the years 2003 and 2004, due to a mere focus on structural form, seemed to have deviated from Lee Kun-Lin’s original style, his long term concerns about life, drifting into a delinking phenomenon. In his 2007 exhibition at the newly opened Taiwan Dong Men Museum, his “The Single-footed Fairy’s Journey” series chose to refocus on the original surreal symbolic language. On the canvas, there was a single footed monster without hands, which was Lee Kun-Lin’s self reflected metaphor of “a lone fairy”, crawling among the mountains that were filled with breasts. Sometimes there rows of them crawling among the mountain ridges. To explain this event, he says “So many fairies are in fact just one.” This “Single-footed Fairy’s Journey” implied that the journey was done by a single-footed man, walking alone on his journey. Therefore, this painting is also a lone journey. Although the fairy looks funny in shape, there is in fact a deep sense of self-mockery and self-reflection of the artist.
A man used to solitude, Lee Kun-Lin said: “It’s funny that I would feel lonely when there are a lot of people running errands around me; however, when I am by myself as a free person, I don’t feel lonely at all”! The feelings of being “lonely” and “not lonely” is really a pull between physical existence and mental states; Lee Kun-lin's "Single-footed Fairy" is considered human by being tragic, and yet a tiny and lonely creature at the same time. However, as long as one has two eyes and one leg, there will be enough for unlonely action, which is not tragic at all!

The breast-shaped mountains represented human being’s passions of the earth. Mother Earth nourished humans, but in return,humans erected high-voltage towers on her surface and destroyed Mother Earth.

The "Single-footed Fairy's Journey" from 2007 is a tearful laughing black comedy; The year 2009's "Mountain Oath" is also a deep-thought tragedy. With a hint of deep blue, the occasionally appearing "single-footed fairy" is no longer a tragic hero with momentum, lingering in the darkness like a ghost. Instead, he is peeping through the depths of the mountains, observing everything that's going on in the woods bit by bit with his hollow eyes.....

Lee Kun-Lin wrote down a number of similar words and stories in the 1993 exhibition , "Human beings are extremely fragile in the entire universe. We can be destroyed at any time. So what is art worth then? I was in a modern art forum and observed a group of ants gathering together around me and wondered that perhaps they were also exploring what modern art is? Or maybe, they were discussing how to divide the big pie right at this location and at this time. If I was looking at the group of ants as I see the universe, wouldn't the group of ants, in their deliberations about how to handle food, look just like us in the forum discussing the development of modern arts? And if I unintentionally step my big foot on these ants, killing all of them without a reason, and leave the big pie on the floor waiting for another group of ants to find it, will they negotiate how to handle and share the food for eating as well?”

    “Art is just like the pie, waiting to be discovered, discussed, shared and stored by humans. Human beings are like ants, strong and fragile at the same time. Art is just like the pie, being placed in the universe. Art will exist whether human beings are present to discuss it, just as the pie will exist whether there are ants to eat it. At the same time, humans will exist whether art exists, just as ants will exist regardless of whether there is any pie to eat.

     Art exists in nature and the atmosphere of the universe. Human beings are here to discover and produce it, just as ants endlessly move the foods around. Sometimes art seems to be discussed and produced by humans daily and sometimes it would seem that art intentionally hides from humans.
How strong and eternal is art and how vulnerable and short-lived are humans! "

The lone "Single-footed Fairy" has already gone for the long journey. For a person who loved and painted mountains for life, Lee Kun-Lin finally put his life in the mountains, proving the nature of human vulnerability at the same time; however, by devoting his life, thinking and creating art, he also confirmed the eternal truths of art. "Mountain Oath" is the last and most profound oath he left for his family and friends.






「人類是無比的脆弱,在整個大宇宙下,它是隨時可被毀滅的。藝術又算什麼? 我在一個探討所謂的現代藝術的座談會上,看到我身邊有一群螞蟻也聚集在一起,


Young Art Taipei - Lee Kuen - Lin

                           There had a gap cos someone bought it. 

I also taped The video about Young Art Taipei - Lee Kuen - Lin

                The series of pictures is called "Seed people".