Lin Tianmiao: Focus on Paper

One of 10 artists featured in the Asian Contemporary Art in Print portfolio, co-published in October 2006 by STPI and the Asia Society New York, Lin was subsequently invited to extend her explorations in the field of printmaking. The combination of her prolific creative imagination and willingness to discover the expressive potential of a medium new to her have carved up unexplored terrain for STPI’s print- and papermakers, evident throughout the creative process.

The project pushed the boundaries of traditional printmaking, under Lin’s exacting devotion and aesthetic sense. Experimenting with papermaking, lithography and silkscreening, Lin’s connection with the materials led to other several techniques such as embossing, flocking and the blending of her recurring motif of thread into the paper itself.

In the Focus series, Lin took close-up images of 13 individuals with deep personal connections to her and blurred the distinctions in their features, casting shades of anonymity over them. Yet, the intricate details on these images suggest great attention to the memory and personhood of these characters. On the sombre, meditative portraits, she layered webs of winding thread and styrofoam balls, embossed impressions of needles, and through the technique of flocking, fashioned soft circles over them. These elements form a unique combination not hitherto seen in print, adding both visual beauty and sensory dimension to the works.

Lin’s poignant and textured prints in this exhibition carry traces of her previous work, such as the use of thread, needles and close-up portraiture. However, her employments of new techniques and close attention to the characteristics of each material used have engendered a refreshingly new body of work. Richard Hungerford, STPI Master Papermaker, attributed the joy of the collaboration to trusting the artist’s instincts: “I would be happy to have finished my career working with her. She provided an incredible natural high just from being with her as she worked.” At the same time, Lin’s current work represents departure into the unknown, leading the viewer towards something other than pure visual perception. As chief printer Eitaro Ogawa described, “We searched together for something we did not know. I still do not know what makes me feel so strong when I see her work. It touches all my senses.”