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Lin Fengmian

Updated: August 3, 2016 L M S


[Photo from en.gotohz.com]

Artists live in their own worlds and are known to be melancholy by nature. Though on the surface they appear passionate, cold, abandoned or innocent, they all reach into their own worlds for reassurance and inspiration. One great painter who lived at the foot of Maling Hill fits this profile, Lin Feingmian. Lin’s works overflowed with desolation, solitude and emptiness. Even without his signature, the trained eye can easily identify his paintings. Lin was a most celebrated artist and art educator who, in his lifetime, worked tirelessly to break down the boundary between Chinese and western arts.

Lin designed his residence, located on Lingyin Road. He chose the spot for its wonderful location “to the south across the lake are the Mid-Lake Pavilion, the Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon and views of the southern hills. To the east are the Autumn Moon on the Placid Lake and the Liou Park. To the west runs the Xiling Bridge from which the northern hills can all be taken in…,” as he once described his residence. Lin lived in the villa for 10 years. The trees and flowers he planted are still growing there


[Photo from en.gotohz.com]

Born in Meixian county, Guangdong province in 1900, Lin loved painting from an early age. He studied in Paris at the age of 19. After he returned in 1925, he became professor and president of the Beijing Art School. At the invitation of Cai Yuanpei, Lin came to Hangzhou in 1927 and was the appointed president of the newly established National Art Academy.

Influenced by Cai’s thoughts on aesthetic education, Lin was an advocate for the New Art Movement. It took great courage for him to put Qi Baishi, a carpenter-turned painter, on the lecture podium of Beijing Art Academy. Not only was he an advocate for the fusion of Chinese and western arts, but he himself created an emotional style that captured a realistic relevance and national flavor. Lin was at the forefront of the cross-culture art studies in the twentieth century and had a profound impact on later generations of painters in China. It is no exaggeration to say Lin was truly the spiritual leader of China’s fine arts over the past century.


[Photo from en.gotohz.com]

Constant displacements in Lin’s life affected and shaped his style of painting. During the War of Japanese Invasion, Lin wandered away to the remote southwest. Even when impoverished, Lin became recluse and painted every day. He resigned in 1950 from his position on the East China College of the Central Academy of Fine Arts faculty in Hangzhou to be a full-time painter. Before long, his French wife left him and went back to France with their daughter. It was during those lonely days that Lin reached the pinnacle of his style, a most distinctive one to be coveted and copied by later artists.

Throughout the 1950s, the authorities slighted Lin’s work for political reasons. He was so pinched for money that he had to turn over two of his paintings to the authorities in exchange for a meager living allowance. During the Cultural Revolution, frequent house raids made him feel so hopeless that he flushed his paintings down the toilet. Lin moved to Hong Kong in the 1980s and lived his life as a hermit until his death in 1991.

Add: No.3, Lingyin Road, West Lake District, Hangzhou.