Critics’ Picks

Lin Ke, Greek, 2019, UV print on acrylic, 23 1/2 x 34 1/2".

Lin Ke, Greek, 2019, UV print on acrylic, 23 1/2 x 34 1/2".


Lin Ke

Lane 298, Anfu Road Building 2
August 10–September 13, 2019

How does an image change after being translated again and again through different media? Lin Ke asks this question in “Sky Painting,” an exhibition that begins with three works titled Greek (all works cited, 2019). Using an unnamed Hellenic plaster bust as a point of departure, Lin represented the sculpture first as a watercolor portrait, which he then photographed in poor lighting with an iPhone to produce an acrylic UV print, wherein the statue is backdropped by the Photoshop transparency checkerboard (a ubiquitous pattern in the show). Finally, he subjects this image to another material displacement, mounting it as wallpaper in the gallery. Lin has long blurred physical and virtual space, from his earlier screenshot and screen-recording works to these recent “paintings.” Each of the pieces here corresponds to an accumulated and congealed impression, every one its own intricate data set. Deities appear often and variously in “Sky Painting”; the Christian God, Buddha, and Taoist divinities all emerge, but Lin has erased the conventional traces of their iconography with translucent layers, leaving only silhouettes. In a punning print titled WeChat background wallpaper, we see Lin’s desktop, littered with JPEGS and folders. A WeChat page is up: in it floats a female portrait that also hangs nearby in the gallery. Can paintings—whose mode of presentation has forever relied on material space above all else—still offer the same caliber of experience without paint? To describe his strategy of virtual-physical conjunction, Lin likens himself to a mystic Tibetan Buddhist taking direction from above: “A line of characters appears in the sky; the terma master sees it, then writes it down.”

Translated from Chinese by Alvin Li.