Michael LIN

Michael LIN

Michael LIN is internationally known for his painted walls and floors with amplified traditional floral motifs inspired by traditional textiles from various cultures. His practice is characterized by embellishment and visual exuberance, and his site-specific works seek to create transformations within the space in which he works. Viewer interaction is an important component in his works, which “efficiently demonstrate a major precept of contemporary art in our time: art is not simply something to be looked at, it is to be experienced in real time, often through tangible means,” as described by Pauline Yao, curator of Hong Kong’s M+ Museum. To Lin, “Exhibition” is the “medium” of his work. While rationally exploring the exhibition as a cultural event, his works also reveal a rich poetic quality. His large-scale installations explore painting, design, ornamentation, and culture through an interaction with architecture. The appropriation of everyday objects and patterns all derive from his personal environment and allow him to go beyond the beautiful and the sublime. His installations are environments or aesthetic slices of life that invite the viewer to share the space of art and architecture in socially contemplative ways.

1964 Born in Tokyo, Japan
Currently lives and works in Brussels, Belgium, Taipei, Taiwan and Shanghai, China



1990        MFA, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California, USA
1993        BFA, Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design, Los Angeles, California, USA



2016        ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
               Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Manila, Philippines
               Leo Xu Projects, Shanghai, China  
2015        SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, USA
               High Museum, Atlanta, USA  
2013        Tang Contemporary, Beijing, China
               PROJECT ONE, Hong Kong, China

2012        ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

               Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, USA

               Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, China
               Leo Xu Projects, Shanghai, China
2011        Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo, Vigo, Spain
               Towada Art Center, Towada, Japan
               Nogueras Blanchard, Barcelona, Spain
2010        Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada
               Centro Per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato, Italy
2009        ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
               Artium, Fukuoka, Japan
2008        Shanghai Gallery of Art, Shanghai, China
               IT Park, Taipei, Taiwan
2007        Nogueras Blanchard, Barcelona, Spain
               O.K. Centrum, Linz, Austria
2006        ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
2005        Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria
               The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
               Nogueras Blanchard, Barcelona, Spain
2004        ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
               Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, California, USA
               Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
               PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York, USA
2003        Palais de Tokyo, Site de Creation Contemporaine, Paris, France
               Galerie Urs Meile, Luzern, Switzerland
               Moroso Showroom, Milan, Italy
2002        Palais de Tokyo, Site de Creation Contemporaine, Paris, France
               Stroom, The Hague, Netherlands
               Galerie Tanit, Munich, Germany
               Galerie Ghislaine Hussenot, Paris, France
1999        IT Park Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
1998        Dimensions Endowment of Art, Taipei, Taiwan
1996        IT Park Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan



2012        "Time Games", Taipei Fine Art Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
               "Encounter: The Royal Academy In Asia", Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore,

               LASALLE College of Arts, Singapore
2011        "Open House", Singapore Biennial, Singapore
               "The Couple Show", Shanghai Gallery of Art, Shanghai, China
2010        "The Burden of Representation", Osage Gallery, Hong Kong, China
               "Atelier Michael Lin", Centre Pompidou-Metz, Metz, France
               "Memories of the Future", Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea
               "Popping Up", Hong Kong Arts Center, Hong Kong, China
2009        "Art Basel" ESLITE GALLERY, Basel,Switzerland

               "Mixed Bathing", Beppu Project, Beppu, Japan
               "The Tree", James Cohan Gallery, Shanghai, China
               "The Spectacle of the Everyday", Lyon Biennial, Lyon, France
               "Live and Let Live: Creators of Tomorrow", Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, Japan
2008        "Madrid Abierto" (in collaboration with Alicia Framis), Madrid, Spain
               "Chanel Mobile Art", Hong Kong, China/Tokyo, Japan/New York, USA
               "Inaugural Exhibition", Towada Art Center, Towada, Japan
               "Super Fengshui", Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China
               "Far West Trading", Arnolfini, Bristol, UK
               "Artificial Nature", Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai, China
               "Home", National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan
2007        "Through The 'Painting' ", Special Projects, Second Moscow Biennale, Moscow, Russia
               "Schaurausch", O.K. Centrum, Linz, Austria
               "Jardins Publics", Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
               "Space For Your Future", Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
2006        "Notre Histoire", Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France
               "Surplus Value", Tang Contemporary Art Center, Beijing, China
               "New Space", Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev, Ukraine
               "Once Upon A Time…Contemporary Fairytale", ARCOS Museo di Arte Contemporanea del

               Sannio, Benevento, Italy

               "Asian Contemporary Art In Print", Asia Society, New York, USA
2005        "Joy", Casino Luxembourg, Luxembourg, Luxembourg
               "Beyond", Second Guangzhou Triennial, Guangzhou, China
               "Experience De La Duree", Lyon Biennial, Lyon, France
               "About Beauty", Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany
               "The Elegance Of Silence", Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
2004        "Polyphony", 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan
               "Odyssey", Shanghai Gallery of Art, Shanghai, China
               "Floral Habitat", Bury St. Edmunds Art Gallery, Suffolk, United Kingdom
2003        "Flower Power/Lille 2004", Palais des Beaux Art, Lille, France
               "The Fifth System: Public Art in the Age of 'Post-Planning' ", Shenzhen Art Museum,

               Shenzhen, China
               "Painting4", Rose Art Museum, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA
               "Crossed", Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
               Art Unlimited, Art Basel, Basel, Switzerland
               "Subversion and Poetry", Culturgest, Lisbon, Portugal
               "Bibliotherapy" (With Remy Markowitsch), Kuntsmuseum Luzern, Luzern, Switzerland
2002        "Urgent Painting", Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France
               "Asianvibe", Espai d'Art Contemporani de Castello, Castellon, Spain
               "Pause_Gwangju Biennial", Gwangju Biennial Hall, Gwangju, Korea
               "How Big Is The World?", O.K.Centrum, Linz, Austria
               Asian Art Triennial, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia
               International 2002, Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool, United Kingdom
2001        "The Gravity of The Immaterial”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei; Kaohsiung Museum of

               Fine Arts,

               Kaohsiung, Taiwan/ Total Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea
               49th Venice Biennial, Taiwan Pavilion, Venice, Italy
               Seventh Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey
               "ARS O1", Kiasma Museum, Helsinki, Finland
               "Casino 2001", Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst Ghent, Ghent, Belgium
               "Bibliotherapy"(With Remy Markowitsch), Villa Merkel, Esslingen, Germany
2000        "The Sky is the Limit", Taipei Biennial, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
               "Sister Space Project", Southern Exposure, San Francisco, California, USA
               "Very Fun Park", Hong Kong Art Center, Hong Kong, China
               "Festival of Vision/Berlin in Hong Kong", Tamar Site, Hong Kong, China
1999        "Visions of Pluralism", National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
               "Magnetic Writing/Marching Ideas", IT Park Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
               Fukuoka Triennale, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan
               KHOJ International Artists’ Association, Modinagar, India
1998        "Tu Pales/J' Ecoute", Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan/La Ferme du Buisson,

               Paris, France
               "Back from Home", Bamboo Curtain Studio, Taipei, Taiwan



Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, China
College de Tallard, Tallard, France
Towada Art Center, Towada, Japan
Kyusyu University, Fukuoka, Japan
Blind Wall Project, Ghent, Belgium
Ullens Center of Contemporary Art, Beijing, China
Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan
L' Ecole des Cigales, Beausoleil, France
Rogaland School of Art, Stavanger, Norway
Kunstlinie, Almere, The Netherlands
21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan
Guangdong Art Museum, Guangzhou, China
21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan
Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art, Istanbul, Turkey
National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan
Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan

Michael Lin – The Difference of the Same

By Pauline J. Yao


The work of artist Michael Lin concerns itself with the experience of limits. More accurately, it articulates a feeling of liminality, of being suspended between the spaces, places and moments of our daily lives. Through his practice, which hovers between painting and installation, and overlaps with fields of relational art, architecture, and design, we experience a fluid interrogation into the social and political dimensions of form. Like other artists working under the rubric of relational aesthetics Lin also engages with relational form—the utilization of the sphere of human relations as artistic medium—yet his engagements are more likely to assert values of difference rather than adhere to that movement’s tendency towards universalizing commonality. Himself a product of several cultures, Lin is especially attuned to the demarcations of such differences, and thus persistently questions not only the understanding of ‘culture’ in its specificity and its very formation, but also the workings of its erasure and undoing.

Historically, Michael Lin’s practice has aimed at transforming the conventions of how modern art functions—namely, the radical separation of art and its public. For Complementary (1998), he hung seven paintings of fabric designs on the wall of a gallery space and in the middle installed a daybed on which visitors were invited to sit, relax and recline among cushions carrying the same fabric designs. Viewers experienced a closing of the gap between the art object expressly made for individual visual consumption and an encounter which was designed to elicit human contact and shared interaction. The work efficiently demonstrated a major precept of contemporary art in our time: art is not simply something to be looked at, it is to be experienced in real time, often through tangible means. The project launched Lin’s ongoing fascination for using large-scale paintings of textile patterns to transform non-descript, transitional architectural spaces into ‘situations’ that introduced a dimension of social interaction and shared conviviality to the typically solitary art viewing experience.

Recently, Lin’s interests have turned away from the dynamics of space and towards an investigation into the contingencies of time and place. An example of this shift might be found in his recent solo show What a Difference a Day Made in 2008, in which the entire contents of a typical daily products store or 雜貨店zahuodian were purchased, catalogued, transported and re-arranged in a gallery space. The project prompted considerations of not only the formal qualities of such everyday items as colanders, spoons and fly swatters, but also the stoppage of time, achieved through isolating these objects from their place in history and locality and underscoring their soon-to-be-relic status within Shanghai’s rapidly developing society.

His current solo exhibition “I am the Sun”, however, proceeds from a different locale—the artist’s native place of Taiwan—and embodies a more nuanced set of concerns. The title alone indicates the passage and progression of time but, more importantly, links up the role of time with the formation of individual and cultural identities. One might say the works in the exhibition share a uniformity of difference—the notion of difference is internalized in the object (in this case paintings and photographs) at the same time as it is being expressed through certain visual strategies. “I am the Sun” is notable not only for its subject matter and size but its scope: it contains several series of paintings, wall murals, photographic prints and two “events” coordinated through eslite’s bookstore—all specially created for this occasion.  

However, Lin’s return to a more conventional exhibition form, exhibiting discrete paintings and photographs rather than ‘site-specific’ installation based work is anything but predictable. He continues to mine cultural histories to powerful effect, bringing to light objects and symbols that speak to moments and territories of in-betweeness and thresholds of individual experience. Two examples are Untitled (2006-2008) based on the Tangram, a Chinese puzzle game consisting of seven flat geometrical shapes that are put together in different combinations to form shapes; and Untitled (2009), paintings of Chinese writing practice books, a common item used in Taiwan’s schools for language instruction. As objects themselves both represent processes of learning by invoking early stages of life when certain culturally encoded systems such as visuality and language are imprinted on our psyche, and yet the depiction of the books in reverse hints at an even further deconstruction. It is the structural breakdown of these systems—of images into objectifiable geometric parts, of language into pronounceable mono-syllabic components—which Lin calls attention to, highlighting the moment of flux and fluidity before these frameworks become solidified and later, internalized.

Lin’s choice of the logo and design of the infamous Taiwanese Sun Bakery comes from a similar motivation to explore innate systems of perception, but extends to include the limits of essentialized cultural symbols. The ‘original’ Sun Bakery in Taichung has become somewhat of a myth—whole streets are now lined with Sun Bakeries, one more eager than the next to proclaim its own status as the original. It is the meanings we attach to authenticity and uniqueness which Lin seeks to destabilize here, and the Sun Bakery, for all of its embodiments of ‘Taiwaneseness’ and cultural legitimacy, makes a particularly apt target. With one stroke Lin counteracts this iconic status. I am the Sun (2009) is the Sun Bakery logo stripped of all of its distinguishing trademarks, returning it to a generic, even monotonous, type of graphical form. This is carried through in the gift-giving event in which individual suncakes bearing Lin’s own self-designed logo and packaging are distributed for free to the public. Together with Lin’s time-based book wrapping event (the artist had every book in eslite art bookstore wrapped with floral wallpaper for a week-long period) these gestures also revisit the artist’s earlier dabbling in processes of social reciprocity and interaction and point to the potential for art to move beyond the limitations of the gallery context.

520” (2008) is a series of 12 photographs taken by the artist on May 20, 2008 on his walk home from his studio in Shanghai. The date carries significance for the artist—it was the inauguration day of Taiwan’s new president Ma Yingjeou—and yet the newsstands he passed on the streets bear no evidence of this momentous occasion. For Lin, this lack of a trace becomes a trace itself, an indication of the paramount differences that exist politically even within a context of supposed parity, not to mention physical proximity. A series of photographs entitled Complementary (1998-2009) also evoke an eerie absence, yet here remains a trace, this time of human presence. The trace of time is also apparent, as photographs taken at different intervals over the course of the exhibition period track from light to dark suggesting the movement of the sun across the sky and the slow rotation of the earth. Inherent to this is the concept of repetition and recurrence, evident in Lin’s ‘blue paintings’ which use a form of disordered serial painting to drive home notions of sameness and subtle variation.


Viewing “I am the Sun”, one is confronted with the various ways in which we conceive, understand, and categorize our perceptions of difference and by that token, the limitations of our own self. The purposely rough, imperfect appearance of some of the canvases elicits another question – are these works even finished? – leaving us with the feeling that we have entered truly ambiguous territory, where the ground no longer feels solid beneath our feet. Through these works, Michael Lin continually reveals the elasticity of culture and visual form, inviting us to examine closer the potential of art as it occurs both within and outside the gallery’s walls.



Island Life

Author / Michael LIN
  • Language
  • PriceNT$500
  • PublisherThe Eslite
  • Size17X24 cm
  • Publication Date2007/03
  • ISBN9789868220157
Island Life

I am the sun

Author / Michael LIN
  • Language
  • PriceNT$150
  • Publisher
  • Size
  • Publication Date2009/04
  • ISBN
I am the sun

Michael LIN : New Paradise 2016

Author / Michael LIN
  • Language
  • PriceNT$880
  • PublisherThe Eslite Corp.
  • Size21x28.5cm
  • Publication Date2016/11
  • ISBN978-957-8599-54-3
Michael LIN : New Paradise 2016


2016        ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

2012        ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

2009        ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

2006        ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

2004        ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan



2009        "Art Basel" ESLITE GALLERY, Basel,Switzerland


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