“What I paint is the pattern, not the actual flower.”
Born Tokyo, 1964. Lives and works in Shanghai
Michael Lin plays games with convention and borderlines on an audacious scale, merging art and craft, commercial and domestic, Asian and Western, professional and amateur. His best-known works use the traditional floral patterns that adorn sheets, quilts and pillowcases. Enlarging them to many times their original size, he transferred them by hand to all kinds of surfaces: floors and walls, wood panels, couches and tabletops. In Untitled Gathering (2008), 320 wooden stools become a patchwork quilt that can be pulled apart and rearranged without affecting the beauty of the design. Read as people or as pixels, the interchangeable squares are apt metaphors for an age of isolation, transmigration and image manipulation. More recently, Lin has undertaken a series of projects in collaboration with non-artists, whom he calls “untrained hands”. For Deng Pao [Light Bulb] (2011), he had Shanghai schoolchildren colour in the outlines of household objects and weapons, then reproduced the results at characteristically outsized scale, staying faithful to every awkward stroke and outside-the-line error. The cartoonish results make land mines seem as ordinary as electric lights.