Lin Yan was born in 1961 in Beijing, China. After graduating from The Central Academy of Fine Arts, Lin pursued further studies at L’École National Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1985. Then, she obtained her master’s degree from the Department of Studio Art at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania in the US.
Lin, with xuan paper as her major material, creates installations and sculptural paintings equipped with architectural character. In her hands, xuan paper is not merely the submissive medium of painting; rather, it can be shaped to possess weight and layers of its own. Black and white, firmness and softness are harmoniously juxtaposed; each quality implicates the other, like the constant negotiation of void and fullness in tai chi, or the yin-yang balance in traditional Chinese philosophy. Also interested in spatial and architectural forms, Lin has recently created many large site-specific installations. These works sustain the subtle contrast between their massive appearance and their light weight and feel. In the kaleidoscopic world of contemporary art, Lin seizes the oldest and most modest material to unfold her everlasting affections for her surroundings, culture, and history.
In 1988, Lin held her first solo show Lin Yan: Tai Chi in Painting at Bloomsburg. In the group show Qi at CAFA in 1994, she created massive installations in black to express her concern about environmental changes, after which ensued a ten-year “black period” of creation. In 1998, she curated the group show Three Generations of Chinese Modernism—Qiu Ti, Pang Tao, Lin Yan, examining the changes in Chinese art over the recent century via the lens of women. Her recent important solo shows include: Lin Yan by Eslite Gallery in Taipei (2016); Lin Yan: Beyond Xuan (2014); Lin Yan: Dispelling the Clouds (2014); and Lin Yan: Embracing Stillness (2013). She also participated in such group shows as Tales of Two Cities: New York & Beijing at Bruce Museum, and Art on Paper 2012: The 42nd Exhibition. Her works are collected by the Deutsche Bank in New York, Long Museum in Shanghai, and National Art Museum of China in Beijing.