Lin Fengmian 1900-1991
- Lin Fengmian
- LOTUS POND
- oil on canvas, framed
- 73.6 by 74.5 cm. 29 by 29 1/8 in.
The Yageo Foundation Collection
Lin Fengmina and the Lotus Pond (Lot 613)
"In his eighty-year-long career, Lin Fengmian painted oil on canvas for only thirteen years, during which time, his main focus was laid on leading artistic movements and teaching. Consequently, he produced only thirty or so oil paintings. Though small in quantity, each of these paintings is embodied with his persistent pursuit on various techniques and styles."
?-Min Xiwen ( Famous painter, Lin Fengmian's student)
It is safe to say that there are few artists who exemplify the essence of the East and West artistic and cultural exploration better than Lin Fengmian. Born exactly in the beginning of an overwhelmingly provocative, intriguing century, a time when tradition and modern, and East and West, coexisted in harmony and conflict, the gifted prodigy, whose painting talent was recognized at the age of eight, was destined to imprint his name in the history of twentieth century Chinese paintings.
The journey of his fusing the East and the West began when Lin Fengmian was nineteen years old. After one month on board Andre Le Bon in a fourth-class cabin, Lin arrived at Marseille, France in January 1920. The first year was spent in learning French, and doing part time jobs such as painting signboard to earn his keep. In April 1921, Lin was enrolled at L'Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts de Dijon. In a short of six months, his endowment was highly appreciated by the head of the school, Ovide Yencesse (1869-1947), who himself was an established relief sculptor. Through Yencesse’s recommendation, Lin Fengmian was accepted by the L’Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, to study under the guidance of the well-known French academic painter Fernand Cormon (1845-1924) till his graduation in 1923. In his seven-year stay in Europe, Lin Fengmian fervently followed Yencesse's advice of "ediscovering the beauty of the oriental art" Besides working hard on absorbing the major modern schools of the West, he spent lots of time in the research of Chinese paintings and ceramics at museums in Paris, it was during this time that the fundamental concept of his artistic pursuit was built up, that is to fuse the East and the West in harmony.
"Since 1957, the Anti-rightists Campaign greatly narrowed the oil painting production in China. Anything that is not in compliance with representational or academic criteria will be animadvert as "poisonous plant" thus to explore the development of oil paintings encountered enormous difficulty. Veteran artists including Lin Fengmian, who were not able to meet the obligatory political requirement of nationalizing the art form, turned to Chinese paintings." (1) Since then, ink on paper predominated Lin’s production, whereas oil on canvas became a rare and precious specimen in his oeuvre.
Among the existent small quantity of his oil paintings, figure painting is a major genre, these include Expressionism pieces such as Humanity painted in 1920, paintings of Cubism influence such as the Beijing Opera Persona, as well as the portrayal of the farming scenes such as the Harvest painted in 1950s. Landscapes in oil on canvas are extremely small in amount, and the Lotus Pond, is so far the only piece of the subject in oil.
The most striking feature of the Lotus Pond, without doubt, lies in its colors. As art historian Lang Shaojun acclaimed, "The superb deployment of the color is to make a language out of it, to use it convey the mentality of the painter. On this point, Lin Fengmian can be considered the sole and only master in the innovation of Chinese paintings of the twentieth century. Whenever one looks at his work, he will be touched by the temper, the sentiment, and the artistic conception that radiates from the composition, the colors employed by the master painter are the magic-maker."
 1937-1977, by Wang Di, in An Approach to Lin Fengmian (China Academy of Fine Arts Publishing, 1999), p.68