giving way paintings for london 2012
curated by max koss
The delicate paintings of the Anglo-Chinese artist Angela Lyn offer respite from the haste of our lives, reconnecting us with the ethereal essence of human experience. In her new series Giving Way, Lyn aligns large primordial landscapes with still life painting reflecting fragile interludes of everyday life. Mixing the transcendental with the specific, her work leads us to discover the dialogue within us in an experience that is at once kind and powerful. Her differentiated language as a painter, her close observation and quiet insistence, gratify the viewer with a sense of renewal.
Max Koss is a scholar and curator. He was educated at the London School of Economics, the Courtauld Institute of Art and is currently pursuing a PhD in Art History at the University of Chicago. Koss has been following Lyn’s work closely since 2005 and is a major contributor to her numerous publications.
At once, upon entering the gallery from the street, with its myriad of city noises, you are mystified by the uncanny quietness of the paintings. You sense their presence, a low murmuring emanating from the walls.
A number of years ago, when I first came upon Angela Lyn’s paintings, I understood her paintings to be a distant echo of the romantic landscape tradition infused with a distinct modernist inflection. They were, and still are, paintings about the act of painting itself, pointing as much to the world outside, as they are invested in their own being. Angela’s paintings of the past decade bear witness to her unrelenting exploration of a uniquely painterly poetics for today, as well as signaling a genuine concern for the medium’s past and future.
What has become ever more pronounced for me with Angela’s paintings since when I first entered her studio, and what has found its clearest expression to date in these new paintings for London, is the fact that the paintings are meant to be behold, by each other, arranged to create conversations between themselves, but most importantly behold by us, the viewers. Rooted in the pleasure of painting, touching the canvas with a brush, the images that Angela Lyn constructs, layer of thin paint upon layer of thin paint, are modeling an attitude, a relationship. That is true for the landscape paintings, which herald the specificity of Ticino mountains, whilst seeing a timeless abstraction in those formations, as much as it is true for those paintings which contain fragments of trees, close-ups of pearls scattered or arrangements of found objects, sharing in a playful moment of surreal theatricality.
The contact between sight and surface becomes a moment of validation of the embodied eye and the canvas and
the image upon it alike. It is a mutually reinforcing relation- ship. Reconfiguring time and space, the images accrue in depth over time, through repeated looking, and through repeated looking the viewer’s sense of being in the world is heightened. Through painting, he reconstitutes his own bodily experience.
The story of the paintings for London does not end here however. What I have called abstraction in these paintings is perhaps best characterized as a form of graphic impetus. It is not quite writing – although the cedar branches come close – but an articulation of propriety of space, and of owning space, which is always also acutely aware of its limits.
Angela Lyn’s paintings are then occupying a liminal space, into which they quite literally draw you in, compositionally, and prepare you for the moment when the work of reconfiguration is done, at which point they will give way for a new, yet unknown, experience.
Max Koss, Chicago, May 1st 2012