Stepping into the Villa, moving between the centuries-old walls, I found myself able to unfold. It was not just the immensity of the rooms, but rather that the dogma of the era had sunk into the sediment of time, leaving space to breathe and look at things freely.
The people who once lived there; who they were, what they did and why, were gone. Vanished.
What remains are marks, colors, lines and the pores of craftsmanship: snippets of searching to mark and explain our existence, somehow all floating at once in the lightness that occurs when things are no longer obvious.
The labyrinth of leftovers hanging in the moment, detached, removed from context, yet carrying something deeply forgiving: perhaps the sudden awareness of the long trail of our human effort.
It was in that moment, standing between the stretch of mirrored openings, the wild garden ballerinas and a row of skyscrapers dotting the far blue horizon, that I discovered an uncanny sense of freedom.
A feeling of being on the edge of time: that fragile ledge where nothing is obvious and one can feel life, quivering in the flesh of one’s palm – somehow senseless and precise at once. Bright, like the wire in a light bulb.
In such moments, it is as if everything is possible and one is fully alive. As if, the past, present and future are one single hum.
It was with this particular sense of freedom that I began to explore the Villa.
“My approach is to employ a narrative akin to story-telling, in which the presence of the work touches the viewer not only on a conceptual and emotional level but also through the energy of its physical presence. My hope is to engage the viewer by creating something communicative upon which experience and memory can be built.” – Angela Lyn
The Villa Arconati, a four-hundred-year-old baroque palazzo situated on the outskirts of Milan, is the setting for a major solo exhibition by the artist Angela Lyn. On the Edge of Time takes the viewer on a journey through 25 rooms of the Villa, exploring questions of identity, gender and culture in their relation to time and space. Since 2015 Angela Lyn has been creating artist projects in which the exhibition becomes a meeting place for dialogue, performance, conference and gatherings related to the exhibition themes.
Throughout the season, several events will take place in conjunction with On the Edge of Time. For more information about these events please click here.
Angela Lyn was born to a Chinese father and an English mother and grew up in the UK and the USA. At the age of 17, she went to Taiwan in search of her Chinese roots. After studying fine art in London, she moved to Switzerland and since 1994 has lived in Lugano. She is married and the mother of three children.
Li Zhenhua is the curator of the exhibition. He is based in Zurich, Berlin and Beijing and is widely known for his curatorial work for Art Basel Hong Kong and important museum exhibitions such as K11 and Minsheng Art Museum in Shanghai. In Europe, he curated China, China, China! – an exhibition at the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. The collaboration with Angela Lyn draws upon their shared enquiry into cross cultural experience.
On the Edge of Time brings together for the first time over 150 original works, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, texts and video work. The exhibition offers a comprehensive insight into Angela Lyn’s artistic language as a whole, creating a harmonious synergy with the time-worn opulence of the baroque architecture.
Transcending the nostalgic aspects of her Anglo-Chinese heritage and the narrative of her persistent journey as an artist, Angela Lyn’s art mediates the poetic resonance between objects and the space they inhabit. Within this liminal framework, she weaves together the spirit of traditional Chinese painting inherent in her work and the explorations of space, color and technique related to Western art traditions.
Angela Lyn builds her work foremost on her observations of nature, striving to create a universal language that goes beyond the constraints of cultural or political dogma. In this exhibition, she links her observations to the Villa and its surroundings, creating a narrative that connects us regardless of time, place or origin.
The project includes Michael Schindhelm, the internationally known German-Swiss author and documentary film-maker, who has directed a film introducing Angela Lyn’s work, the exhibition and the unique setting of the Villa.
The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated, 400-page publication designed by Jonas Niedermann, photographed by Andrea Rossetti and published by Vexer, St Gallen/Berlin. This major book portrays the exhibited works, the site-specific room installations and includes a curatorial text by Li Zhenhua, a conversation with Michael Schindhelm and biographical and poetic texts by Angela Lyn.
In her new project On the Edge of Time, Angela Lyn expands her approach by inviting a diverse group of contributors (listed below) to respond to questions related to the exhibition and its themes. These encounters appear in the book in dialogue with the artist’s work, bringing the enquiry to a heightened level of shared reflection.
On the Edge of Time also invites artist Su Ling Gyr to do an installation in the women’s wing of the Villa, where in the past, women and children spent time together. Su Ling is a women’s wear graduate from Central St. Martins, London, and is the daughter of Angela Lyn. Their collaboration addresses female identity in relation to art and its representation of women.
For an installation in the former stables, Angela Lyn invites long-time collaborator Jesse Bannister, UK composer and musician, to compose four pieces of music. The installation elaborates the idea of the stables as a place of rest and recuperation for the horses. In today’s frenetic world of speed and distraction, the centuries-old stables become a tranquil space to absorb time and energy.
Within this 17th century building, Angela Lyn creates a resonance between her own life and the traces of history within the Villa. Naming the rooms, she intervenes the space in a cumulative interplay. As the story progresses, the artist forms a poetic reconstruction of historical and personal narratives, subtly dismantling our linear perceptions of time and place.
On the Edge of Time brings Angela Lyn’s artistic journeys, the episodes of her life and the historical emanations of the Villa together in a lasting moment that invites viewers to interact with her work and connect with their own memories and experience. It is her most ambitious project to date.
I have been painting all my life
I wonder why I am drawn to the sound of a brush
to the smell of paint
to the slow walk from a white canvas to a finished work
somehow absurd in the digital age – Angela Lyn