Seeing with the heart
By Annie Wong
Columnist, ARCH Magazine
Taiwanese artist, Oliver Lin, bears the burden of the great tradition of classical Chinese painting with an uneasy grace: touched by its historical and spiritual implications, troubled by the restrictions of a rigid and unswerving dedication.
Lin is fully aware of the dimensions of the spiritual struggle which awaits those who seek to serve the cause of art by worshipping two masters—in his case, choosing to employ a western style of artistic expression while accepting his heritage of classical Chinese painting. While he is alive to the richness and deeply-rooted instinctive pull of his cultural heritage, he is also weighted down by that endless, apprenticeship, almost ”ghost-like” in its long and shadowy course, so unlike the land of the living: the exuberance and vitality of western art.
But he fears also abandoning tradition and becoming a “rootless orphan,” for he is wise enough to know that cutting off roots is sure death to the creative impulse. So he chooses to weave his solitary way, threading a delicate path between the two conflicting schools, refusing to be restricted by either, particular, narrow territory.
By electing to take the harder path he also attains a greater maturity and scope, and, if he persists in his lofty ambitions, stands a rare opportunity to blend the two ways of thought.
And so it proves to be; he learns some valuable lessons: namely that diversity is not caused by form at all. Rather it is that art is rooted in the spirit, which originates internally and dominates all. In fact, the liberal spirit of art and the mature wisdom of the harmony of nature have often scintillated in ancient Chinese texts.
He carries his thoughts further and finally realizes that art should be rooted in the deeper and wider soil of literature, music, ethics and other cultural dimensions. In turn the artist receives a gift greater than the sum of its parts—- a new mode of expression.
At last Lin has attained the secret of the artistic way he must pursue—he learns to receive and to give. For the great truth is actually very simple: it is the artist’s inner vision which provides the source of the art form to be followed.
He paints in a very emotional way, rather than a rational one. He does not paint to say something; rather he allows emotion to overcome him and then purges himself by putting it down on canvas, allowing the spirit to rest.
Here lies the final truth: the calmness of extinction is the great peace of all. We are all the slaves of time.