exhibition of Lin Wang
curator: Dominika Drozdowska

SiC! BWA Wrocław Gallery, Poland

Exotic Dreams and Poetic Misunderstandings vol. 2 is a continuation of the artist’s quest. The exhibition was prepared specially for the purposes of the SiC! Gallery in Jingdezhen, the porcelain art and manufacturing mecca, where in the 17th century importers from Europe brought sketches and forms of tableware. The commissioned replicas of European utensils were often completely alien to Chinese ideas. Europeans would also order the traditional, famous cobalt blue images on chinaware, except the commissioned scenes were connected with domestic traditions and history. Done meticulously and with utmost care, they often became comical, distorted (the Chinese did not use perspective) representations of biblical and mythological scenes. Paradoxically though, in the eyes of the buyer, such objects were a fulfilment of exotic, romantic dreams of the Orient.

Contrary to artists of the past, Lin plays with the convention – she mixes the Chinese tradition of the cobalt blue imagery with Norway’s strongly rooted tradition of sailors’ tattoos. In Bergen, everybody is indirectly or directly connected with the sea and sailing. For me, nautical tattoos have become a medium through which I imagine life at sea says the artist. Back in the times when sea trade was not industrialised yet, working at sea required both physical and mental strength from the sailors. Visions of the ocean as an intercultural transit route were invariably connected with idealising the unknown. The exciting dreams of unexplored, unconquered lands were visualised by means of a needle and ink.

In the brave, harsh but romantic world of sailors, the tattoo is a record of adventure, experience and dream, a prophecy, a charm, a memory of sexual initiation. Its allegorical value, simplicity, linearity and the blue colour of ink, all resemble the style of the Chinese imagery. Poetic misunderstandings appear between the finesse of the Chinese porcelain and the straightforward brutality of the seamen’s tattoos, between the scale forms of European tableware and the Chinese genre scenes. Just as in Miss Hong Kong, a work in which Lin swaps female archetypes. In place of the traditional Chinese figure, a petite woman depicted with half-closed eyes and in a subservient bow, she tattoos on porcelain an erotically bent pin-up girl from a sailor’s dream, towering over the male character. In this way, she contests the Chinese canon of representing gender. The ambiguous East/West and tradition/contemporaneity relationships created by the artist bravely enter the field of visual kitsch and naivety. They engage in a witty, free dialogue about history, religion, tradition, social preferences and exotic dreams. There is no aggression or fear in them. They are records of dissimilarity and diversity. Of what cannot be told. Sometimes it is lost in translation, sometimes it is read between the lines.

graphic design: Hubert Kielan
photo in frame of the exhibition: Alicja Kielan
drawing on the skin: Ewa Służyńska E-R-S
producer: Tomasz Cugier

more about the exhibition