“The animals occupy an ambiguous space between reality and fantasy, present and past.”

Born 1987, Pingtung, Taiwan. Lives and works in Taipei

As a child, Lin Yen-Wei used to climb on the large painted animals that sit in many Taiwanese parks. He came to see them as friends, part animal, part human. Seeing one again many years later, he was surprised by his reaction. He knew it was just a sculpture, and an old and battered one at that. But he thought he saw sadness in its eyes. Intrigued by his own pity, and wanting to explore “the souls that we project into artificial things”, he began touring old parks and playgrounds, photographing the sculptures and painting their  “portraits”. The approach simultaneously distances him from his subjects and brings him closer to them. Brushing the paint across the canvas feels like stroking the animals, the artist says. His style is meticulously realistic, yet it has a strangely surreal effect. Crude and cartoonish as the figures are, they seem somehow alive, and their expressions convey something like emotion: humour, sympathy, weariness, loneliness, sorrow. But are those feelings in the faces, or ourselves?

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