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Lin Ke is an artist of gestures. Even his early series “Drawings,” which dates back to 2011, confirmed the paramount role of action prevailing upon the images themselves. From the outset of his practice, Lin Ke has been searching for an action-driven environment that would allow him to explore immediate gestures while neglecting the restrictions of the “real world.”
He eventually found the environment he was looking for in the small window of a computer screen. This entrance to a different realm would allow him to lose himself, performing a wide array of actions while being completely free from the physicality of the natural world. Here, Lin Ke meticulously orchestrates his drama-actions in a reality that functions according to his own set of rules.
The works from the “Digital Paintings” series—images randomly mutated into simulacra of traditional paintings—have inevitably pushed the artist to take a leap forward, leading him into the realm of visual data. Printed in large formats, the works mimic the appearance of oil canvases, somehow looking like unachieved pieces of sort.
These chapters of experimentation have introduced into Lin Ke’s practice a certain reflection on temporality. His images have become time pills, frozen by the artist in random sequences, quietly stolen from the digital data-space continuum.
The “Data and Folder” series of screen shots, meanwhile, has revealed Lin Ke’s penchant for the absurd. These images unearth a place where the landscape is compressed and archived in folders and digital icons, while in the “GIFs” series nature is revealed in its cyclic poetry of repetition.
Time pills quietly stolen from the digital
In his recent works (2014–2015), Lin Ke’s performative soul seems to have finally found its freedom. His contribution to the exhibition “Jing Shen: The Act of Painting in Contemporary China,” held this summer at PAC in Milan, was accompanied with this description: “Man, Nature, Technology. A setting similar to the cabin control of a cockpit, complete with a multi-screen backdrop, where the Internet and digital images are reinvented as canvases for manipulation and alteration.” In this complex installation, built around the projection of Star travel 1080p (2013), Lin Ke’s practice has reached a further dimension, acquiring a new sophistication in the display of his digital actions. The artist has returned to the three-dimensional world to present his works in a narrative context, spatially resituating them into the viewer’s world. Here, in the reality that physically surrounds us, the observer finds his path into Lin Ke’s realm through the senses of hearing and vision, capturing a moment of his life between time and space. Through these self-portraits, Lin Ke’s gesture is a truly new development for the medium of painting, reaching beyond its materiality and yet placing himself as part of a millennial tradition.
Lin Ke is, in other words, a painter who operates on the flux of images that is the Internet, dancing within it by means of his mouse, accompanied by accurate musical choices that dictate the pace of his actions. The result is a set of infinite, circular narratives that allow us to descend into a magic world of nuances, movements, high tech and low tech, all a perpetual metaphor for today’s existence.
Lin Ke (Chinese, 1984) is an artist who lives and works in Beijing. He is represented by Gallery Yang, Beijing. This Fall and Winter, Lin Ke will be part of “Folklore of the Cyber World,” held in October at Chronus Art Center and in December at OCAT, Shanghai; as well as in the group exhibition “Tokyo Remix: Creative Power from the Metropolis” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.
Davide Quadrio is a curator and founder of Arthub Asia, a production and curatorial proxy active in Asia and worldwide. He is Associate Editor of Kaleidoscope Asia.
Image: Lin Ke, The Universe Folder, 2010, Courtesy of the artist