Michael Lin has always aspired to beauty. From his repeated use of the floral print cloth to the installation Model Home, his work never fails to capture a sense of space and form. This is again the case with his latest solo exhibition “A Tale of Today.” For this show, he has arranged nine brand-new Forever bicycles in a row by the first floor window as if in a window display for a vintage shop or a newly launched bike-sharing program to promote the city’s image. In the second floor space there are only two bicycles, but they are high-end, limited-edition bikes assembled by the artist, implying a climb up the value chain.
Paintings on canvases and walls depict elements of bicycle brands with the color gold, that symbol of capital, but the layout shows a high level of constraint. Lin does not discard his aesthetic of simplicity and negative space. At every turn, this exhibition speaks of the contradictions between this aesthetic tone and the interpretation of the work. The brand Forever, for instance, has never been opposed to capital: it was and is a symbol of prosperity and the bourgeoisie. Its bicycles are given a trendy presentation in an expensive building in the former French Concession, softening conflict into an elegant gold coating. The only part of the exhibition that seems to relate to the source of its title, The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, Mark Twain’s exposé of America’s booming economy, is a pair of wall paintings on the third floor. The first is filled with the times and destinations of flights leaving Pudong International Airport; the other is filled with bicycle logos. This connection, however, is limited to the emotions and experiences of the individual, an artist’s lament at the replacement of freedom and relaxation with precision and speed. Here we find an artist refusing to bend to reality in his dogged pursuit of beauty. It is a tale of the French Concession today.
(Translated by Jeff Crosby)
Leo Xu Projects, Shanghai
2016.03.05 – 2016.04.05