林勤霖的千里獨行 師大教授 呂清夫
這個時期的作品畫家曾將自己的作品分成「鄉愁之外」（1997-98）、「鄉愁處方箋」（1999）、「凝視生命」（2000-02）三個階段，但從他的全作品來看，最大的特色應在於逐漸告別了對稱的結構，或許這才「啟開潘朵拉的盒子」，其次是顏色彩度的升高，這可能跟他移居的維多利亞城之美麗有關。他同時開始經常啟用拼貼的手法，他把一些文字資料加以影印之後貼在劃上，大概許因為「鄉愁就像瘟疫」，故只有具體物的拼貼才能彌補虛無。他並將詩的內容（如「凝視生命 在經典 在史冊 在歌 在詩 在縱放的墨韻」）大量帶入畫中，不但善畫而且工詩，因為他「開始渴念東方」、而且「詩是用來縫合的」。
-OLIVER LIN’S LONG AND SOLITARY PATH
By Professor, NTNU
Lu Qing Fu
– A Bold Effort to Uncover the Self
When Hyperrealism was popular internationally he did not paint to simulate photography. When Folk Realism was popular in Taiwan he did not paint realistic paintings. He has followed his own path, coming and going, dedicated to nonobjective art, for almost 30 years. This is Oliver Lin, and neither does he follow the traditions of Abstractionism, for he employs few lines and tenebrific colors in a seemingly unpracticed technique. His style eschews trends to exist in its own epoch.
Works from Lin’s earliest period that have made the deepest impression on me were painted on Matsu Island (just off the mainland coast, where Oliver Lin performed his military service, 1970-71). These rather barbaric renditions of ancient houses nevertheless manage with virile strokes and subdued colors to achieve an impressively lean vigor. To suggest that they seem close to Fauvism or Expressionism would be a procrustean parallel, for they emerge entirely from the world of the artist’s own self, pregnant with potentials that would emerge later, for instance his penchant for cool black tones, his intriguingly coarse lines and an unburdened poetic aura.
Oliver Lin boldly searches and diligently excavates the self. In 1979 he began absorbing Geometric Abstraction in the ongoing project. Certain mathematical relationships were quite suitable for his stubborn ego and obstinate personality, and so he produced a series of works featuring straight lines or squares, though with colors of tenebrism. But humans are complex, and Oliver Lin’s unbreakable poetic temperament once more asserted itself, finally driving him from the geometric path. Relying on a non-mathematical, automatic method he was able to express more completely deep interior emotions and the tensions between materials.
Lin’s ‘white period’ (1980-1983) emerged from this development. He abandoned the deliberate rigor of geometric expression in favor of automatism to realize fully the dialogue between self and material. Colored resin flows like magma over the canvas. At first they appear like melodies in white. Step back and they fill with heat and energy. The paintings do not appear polished or intentional, but as actual reflections of the painter’s interior world in which the materials are themselves the superlative and unshackled performance, more like natural phenomena than products of a nimble human intelligence.
Which is not to say that Oliver Lin’s wit is not nimble, for he is not at all haphazard. A glance through his studio reveals rattan chairs in strong colors, an iron antique wood-stove fully restored by the artist, rough-textured stucco walls and ceilings, plus a delightful balcony and a Spartan kitchen, from which emerge Minimalist expressions of edible art. From a box of a hundred treasures pops out an amazing tablecloth. It seems Oliver Lin is also nimble in the art of life.
– Treasuring Lines like Gold – Painting at Will Without Easel
Oliver Lin’s works contain very few lines, which occasionally perplexes western observers who count lines the specialty of Chinese painting. Why doesn’t he use lines? It sometimes seems that Oliver Lin makes a deliberate point of being self-reliant and persistent in reverse thinking. For example he has made oil pigments transparent, and conversely made water colors opaque. The few lines he treasures like gold are sincere and pure, intriguing and coarse, and they show up unexpectedly in his pictures to express thoroughly the quality of materials, sometimes as naïve circles, sometimes as loose squares. The technique required to produce works such as Eastern Fence of T’ao Ch’ien (1975) is often visibly taxing for painters, but Oliver Lin’s skill makes the unrestrained lines appear effortless. Thus the contrast between lines without thickness and materials with intrinsic depth forges his individuality. Eastern Fence of T’ao Ch’ien marks the beginning of a period that peaked at his work PE Net on Wooden Box (1984) which belongs to Oliver Lin’s ‘Objects Exploring Period’ (1984-86). At this point, materials and even the supporter emphasize thickness. Sometimes the thickness reaches several centimeters, enough to make the profile a significant view to appreciate. This excursion into treating every facet of the work in three-dimensions led to a brief interest in sculpture and installation art (1994). During this period he began laying canvas on the floor, especially when using liquid resin, a practice that still continues. He seeks chance effects by allowing the materials to flow and bleed over the canvas. The intention is not to appropriate physical action and reaction of floor and brush. Rather it is to assist the artist to melt into the painting.
– The Locus of Emotion Contacted
And so the practice becomes convenient for the automatic expression of poetic sensitivities. In the early 90s, although he had abandoned the path of mathematical relations, that detached and exacting character could not leave the bones of the artist, and so another unifying characteristic – symmetry — emerged during his ‘black period’ (1987-1996). Although some of his friends call this symmetry inflexible, in fact he himself was trying to change. But old inclinations die hard, and in any case,
the urge to symmetry was not necessarily outside his character, for he continued to compose elements of disparate nature into a single expression. He still combined unrestrained shapes and colors within stringent symmetries, just as he had juxtaposed lines without thickness and impasto of rich color and texture. The resulting works are full of the same smoldering power. The tendency to use black stems on one hand from the death of his mother , for even though he had made poetry of his nostalgia and regret, the injury was nevertheless real. And so he wrote in a poem:
The 12th year has come since
Death closed my dear mother’s eyes.
Deep yearning wells up
Higher and higher as days go by.
If I could but win the Golden Bough and the lyre of Orpheus,
I would ford the Styx to beseech Pluto
To lend her to me and shorten my own life.
When Francisco Goya’s country was suffering in turmoil he also went through a black period. Despite the difference in scale between national chaos and family loss, genuine emotions expressed by artists are similarly touching. On the other hand, his early use of dark blue heralds the black period. Oliver Lin divides the black period into three series: Tracks of Time, Poetics of Time, and Reflections of Time. The emphasis on black and on symmetry is consistent throughout these series, but after Poetics of Time, colors gradually become brighter and clearer even as materials become lighter and thinner. The warm colors correspond to an increasing use of the spray gun rather than the knife.
In 1997 Oliver Lin immigrated to Canada. Tearing himself from his native country, wrenching himself from his hometown, brought upon him a huge attack of homesickness. He said, ‘In a foreign country, when night like a thousand mourning bands plucks at my shaking and trembling emotions and Pandora’s box of horrors opens spreading homesickness through me like a pestilence, I begin to thirst for the east; urgently yearn and gaze searchingly to the east. I let history lance my wound, let music rinse and cleanse it, and allow poetry to provide sutures.’ I also can imagine the look he mentioned in a letter he wrote to me, the look of ‘tears flowing from aged eyes.’
– Expecting an Extraordinary Bitterness
Oliver Lin divides the works of his early Canadian period into Beyond Homesickness, the Ethics of Homesickness, and Gaze into Life. But looking at the overall progression, a gradual departure from reliance on symmetry is the greatest transition, and perhaps the opening of Pandora’s Box. Another major shift is the increasing use of color, which may be connected with his move to beautiful Victoria British Columbia. At the same time he begins using collage, copying Chinese characters and pasting them onto the picture. Perhaps the collage stems from his homesickness ‘like a pestilence’. Only applying concrete objects can fill the void left behind. He embeds shards of his poetry within paintings, for example, “Gaze into life – through scripture, through history, through song, through poem and through the untrammeled ink-tone.” Thus he demonstrates the complementary expressions of poetry and painting, and thus ‘he thirsts for the East’ and ‘lets poetry provide sutures.’
But this generation is different from that of the Tang painter/poet Wang Wei. Paintings do not necessarily contain poems; a painting is not necessarily limited by a poem, but can extend in all directions. Music and images can all connect with a painting to produce new relationships, and literature too pursues painting. Unlike the classical literati-artists who exteriorized their scholarship directly to painting, Lin’s erudition makes an indirect approach. When the subconscious has finished fermenting countless volatile matters within, it naturally and mysteriously guides the brush. For example, the pure and fresh warmth of Oliver Lin’s Eastern Fence went through an arduous fermentation and then, amidst laughter and conversation, in one joyous burst it materialized. Recently Oliver Lin commented, “It’s like beans from Chinese soil, dried and then roasted in Victoria – they are re-burned, slightly bitter.” The re-burning naturally arises from Oliver Lin’s comprehensive readings in literature and history, as well as his technical experiments. I don’t really feel this ‘slight bitterness.’ But regarding Oliver Lin’s long and solitary path in abstract painting, I expect new and extraordinary bitterness yet, and I won’t add sugar.
Translated by Yihua Chen & Robert Curry