“What I paint is the pattern, not the actual flower.”
Born Tokyo, 1964. Lives and works in Shanghai, Brussels and Taipei
Michael Lin plays games with convention on an audacious scale. Focusing on traditional designs, he extends definitions, dimensions, and demarcation lines until content becomes context, and art and non-art merge. Back in his childhood home after many years in the United States, he found Taiwanese folk art familiar enough to stir affection, yet foreign enough to be played with guiltlessly. He was especially taken with the traditional floral patterns that adorn sheets, quilts and pillowcases. “I still remember such textiles being used for bedding as women’s dowry,” he says. “To me they also mark a time when Taiwan was transferring from manual production to industrial production, from rural to urban.” Lin enlarged old textile patterns to many times their original size and transferred them by hand to all kinds of surfaces: floors and walls, wood panels, couches and tabletops. In doing so, he blurred borders between floors and walls, people and their environment, homely and monumental, kitsch and highbrow, Taiwanese and transnational. The huge patterns turn large, cold spaces into comforting envelopes. In Untitled Gathering (2008), 320 wooden stools become a patchwork quilt that can be pulled apart and rearranged without affecting the beauty of the design. Read as people or as pixels, the interchangeable squares are apt metaphors for an age of isolation, transmigration and image manipulation.