until 10.12. | #3213ARTatBerlin | Migrant Bird Space shows from 23rd October 2021 (Opening: 22.10.) the solo exhibition Wearing the body inside out by the artist Yu Linhan.
Yu Linhan’s works unify order and disorder. With great precision, Linhan draws an impenetrable mess of what could be branches, lines or cables on wall-filling formats. Amongst other imagery, he uses photographs of labyrinthic structures, such as entangled wires or pictures of nerve-pathways, which he took during his hospital-stays in 2011 and 2018. These images function as template and starting point for his abstract pictorial aesthetics, which is both an analytical view of his environment (i.e. nature/hospital imagery) and an autonomous drawing. He takes us so close to the structure of his objects that we can perceive them as representational and as abstract at the same time. The viewer’s gaze is lost in seemingly chaotic all-over-networks, while the infinite but never self-repeating loops of the lines seem to provide an overall stability, despite the image’s intrinsic turbulent state.
Wearing the body inside out
Yu Linhan’s obsession is not with mechanical craftsmanship as such, but how the latter’s products interact with the body. Every single type of machinery he portrays has a close relationship to the human body – carrying, underpinning, upholding or splaying human flesh, sometimes invasively (medical devices inserted into the body), sometimes expressing dominance (bondage or torture gear). Flesh emanates from nature, machinery is a creation of the mind. It follows that it is the former which is an externality, not the latter. The mind can control the flesh, but even ‘control’ is a relative term implying an opposition of forces. Yu Linhan prefers, when speaking of the body, to use the term ‘homeostasis’, a dynamic term and a very revealing one – dynamic control is at the same time dynamic uncontrolledness. The body needs to be continually disciplined; Yu Linhan’s machinery bears witness to this struggle.
Yu’s passion for human manufacturing derives precisely from his fascination with the body. He takes the opposite approach to Francis Bacon, inasmuch as the latter reduces humans to flesh. Bacon’s most agonising tendency is not that he distorts, but how he exposes humans as nothing more than organisms, a flesh-built “pure body” of the Real. His over-objectification of this physical side renders the body into little more than offerings of a meat-packing plants. These bodies are unbearable; Bacon´s brush gives us just biological tissue, with no place left for humanness to show its face.
This is the “flesh” that Yu Linhan does his utmost to avoid. His trenchant rejection of it causes even the body as such to vanish. He foregrounds only clean-cut, disciplined human creations. These derive from human artifice, from our most honest-to-God internality, products of pure rationality. In other words, machinery external to the body actually belongs to the internal realm. To our rational minds, this apparatus is transparent, it is a product of our design, assembly, dismantling and reassembly. When the machine operates, we understand the motion of its every part. Depicting the machine thus calls for even, controlled, replicable lines, perfect straight lines and circles, recursive and symmetrical form; in short, it requires geometry. There is no perfect geometry in the physical world; the “vivid” brushstrokes used to paint nature end up as a hindrance. To draw a machine, you must use a machine. Printing, for Yu Linhan, is a matter of necessity, not choice.
The act of avoidance is also the best affirmation. The psychological austerity of his approach is what makes us realise that the body refuses to disappear, and indeed will undergo a constant recursion, just by different means. For Yu Linhan here, repetition has two levels of meaning. The subjects continually reproduced by block printing technology, those machines – they are not actual subjects of suppression. Far from being scars, they are a healing balm for scars (“Gentian Violet”). They cannot even be said have been repeated; what they have undergone is more akin to a series of failed repetitions, Deleuze’s “repetition of habit”. They are what the artist strives after but cannot obtain, they have not returned so much as been stimulated, lacerated by another more active regression, namely that of the body; true scars are not that which we see, but that which we cannot. They show up as the accidents on the canvas, the blemishes and mismatches, the things that disrupt the normally clean and tidy screen printing. Printing as a choice means an aspiration towards form and symbolic order; spots and freehand mean that this aspiration is fated to fail. Yu Linhan’s images have actually never featured perfectly-realised order; what we see is always a shaken and disrupted order, more of a confounded order, an unsteady form. The body is inherent to this dimension, not explicitly drawn by the artist but as an irrepressible form that disturbs the order, not the subject of repetition but as repetition itself. To this extent, the unexpressed human body is an even more potent presence than Bacon’s bodies. Even the artist himself refuses to express it, transmuting it instead into that uncontrollable dimension. As a result we witness the highest form of artistic sincerity, one not attained by a confession from the artist, but by a concealment.
Vernissage: Friday, 22nd October 2021, 7:00 pm
Exhibiiton period: Saturday, 23rd October to Friday, 10th December 2021To the Gallery
Exhibition Yu Linhan – Migrant Bird Space | Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin | Contemporary Art | Exhibitions Berlin Galleries | ART at Berlin