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Lin Tan: Painting th e Call of the Heart


  Lin Tan, born in 1951, majoredin enterprise management atTaiwan’s Soochow Universitybefore joining an advertisingcompany. As his career progressed, he quit his job because of his belief that “thereis something more important than work.”When he entered his 50s, Lin began todevote his entire heart to painting.Despite the fact that he never received formal training at an art school, his enthusiasmfor painting has grown with each passingday. When studying at Soochow University,he taught himself traditional Chinesepainting by tracing the work of famous painter Huang Junbi. Later, he learned fromrenowned traditional Chinese painters WengWenwei and Mou Chongsong.

  Lin admires artists who devote theirentire lives to the exploration of a certainpainting technique, but insists that such aroad isn’t suited for him. He doesn’t sidewith conservative rejection of attemptsto change and reform certain rules oftraditional Chinese painting, but believesthat painting should depict the fluid anddynamic nature of ideas – that immutablemindsets only inspire the uncreative andlifeless. For this reason, he has always triedto bend the rules of traditional paintingtechniques and explore new subjects andtechniques while maintaining the essentialspirit of traditional Chinese painting.

  Along with traditional Chinese painting,his art practice involves many othergenres of art ranging from glazed potterypainting to modern ink-and-wash, threedimensionalpainting on gemstones, andcolored slime painting. His canvases andmaterials include porcelain, bamboo charcoal,brick, stone, aluminum alloy, andeven cement. Due to his persistent innovation,Lin has been dubbed the “most creativeartist in Taiwan.”

  Lin defines his painting style as “formless.”In his opinion, art should followthe heart. Not long ago, he sat down withChina Pictorial (CP) to talk about his artisticphilosophy.

  CP: You call your painting style“formless” and assert that “painting isactually a depiction of emotions from thebottom of the heart.” What do you mean?

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