L 林峰

Transboundary Aesthetics

Dialogue with Lam Fung


The intimate relationship of mountains and waters shown in Chinese literates’ paintings are the representation of ecological wisdom of the ancients, Wang Wei (701-761), who was good at creating poems and paintings from the Buddhism ideas, put forward “The path to painting is based upon the ink”, the worship of Chinese “ink” painting even accessed to a supreme realm. Since the deconstructivism presented in various disciplinary in 1960s, some ink painting artists in the contemporary era have attempted new foothold.


师承唐云和赵少昂的传统水墨教育背景,中国浙江美术学院的印记经历过维也纳皇家美术学院欧洲经典与新媒体艺术的蜕变,让林峰对“艺术”的理解有了一种超现实感,创造出一个特立独行的视觉系统,用笔触和时空模糊了人们对于远与近、固与液的区分,试图重新解构中国山水中的“环境伦理”,并将之作为一个独立的横截面更为精确地进行解析,以诠释他的创作原点。 正如他所理解:解构,仅仅是一种诠释,而非终极。很难准确定位他描绘的到底是具象,还是抽象。 但他又不满足于仅仅通过解构、重组来完成艺术家对于环境命题的探讨,将水墨载体中的古朴精神单纯抽离、重塑,通过多重媒介的调动和联结表达个人意愿,是其艺术生涯的另一绵延。

Studied under Tang Yun (1910-1993) and Zhao Shao’ang (1905-1998)where Lam Fung acquired strong traditional Chinese ink painting background before obtaining Bachelor in Fine Arts from Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts. Afterwhich, he further continued his quest for European classic and new media transformation from one of the oldest art academies, Vienna Academy of Arts where he was awarded first class Master Honour. The combination of transcontinental existence brought about a surreal feeling of the understanding of “art” for Lam Fung, creating an independent visual system, obscuring the differences between distance and close as well as static and movement with brushwork and time-space, making an attempt to deconstruct the “environmental ethics” of Chinese Mountains and Waters aesthetics. He extracts  independent cross section accurately so as to annotate his creation origin; “deconstruction, only is a kind of annotation, but not an ultimate”. It is hard to pinpoint his paintings as concretization or abstraction, however he isn’t only satisfied with the methods of deconstruction and recombination to accomplish the discussion on artists’ environment proposition. He takes out and reinvents the simplicity in Chinese ink painting, expressing his personal willingness through the transfer and association of different media, taking his artistic career to new heights.



Lam Fung recent solo exhibition “Index of Nature” a transboundary art exhibition expresses his concerns for environmental issues where it engages audience to realize the unprecedented pressure in the contemporary society. The exhibition investigates the idea of ‘environmental ethics’ that often represents in traditional Chinese landscape painting as moral philosophy, to question if traditional cultural ideologies and value from the past can ameliorate the challenges we faced today. Series of contemporary ink paintings presented in the exhibition use moderate spatial narrative and abstract code as organic container of memory. “Temple hung on air” is a black box which elevates in the middle of the exhibition hall. Audience may temporarily “set feet into” it to feel the ethereal differences of space and motion. This interactive intermedia installation activates natural forces of gravity,  spatial elements, time base media and human interaction which investigates the notion that human beings often relish the thrill of the unknown, exploring multi-relationship between human being and the nature. Another light installation “Dissemination” derived from moon-shaped silk fan painting, a sector of the traditional Chinese paintings. The installation emits light beams and forms moon-shaped fan lighting in motion to set up novel relationship between past and contemporary in the site of the exhibition. By means of metaphor, it relates environmental issues, triggering people’s deeper thoughts.



There seems no conflict in Lam Fung's multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary approach, either tradition vs contemporary. “Synergy”, when he was annotating his combination of art and science, he mentioned Buddhist Western Paradise, the Avalokitesvara stood for spiritual emotion and the Mahasthamaprapta stood for rationality and support, just like the relation between art and science, which were combined perfectly and beautifully.


Fospel: The ink paintings in this exhibition is to pay homage to the ideas of traditional Chinese Mountains and Waters painting which is often viewed as “livable and travelable”. However the exhibited paintings counter the norm and offers different viewing experience, when did this unique motif comes about ?


Lam Fung: I pay homage to this great tradition of Chinese painting aesthetic due to my childhood education background. I had the honor to be under the apprenticeship of my teachers Tang Yun and Zhao Shaoang to learn traditional Chinese painting where I was exposed to many great old masters’ authentic works which fascinated me greatly. For this show, the reference to Dong Yuan (?- 962) and Ju Ran (ca. 907-979)of the South School Founders of mountains and waters paintings can be identified through the flexible movement of the performative strokes of water and ink in my series. These two great artists' works embodied Wang Wei’s  concept of “Poem painting, painting in poetry” echoing harmonious spiritual temper between human and nature  of their time has given me great joy which empowers me to create something to reflect our time.


As a contemporary person, we may ponder how we envisage the challenge that brought about by our current existence. The individual viewpoints are of great significance. When I compared the natural view expressed by Dong and Ju with our current environmental challenges, I found a contemporary person have had an indifferent sense of alienation for the nature, estrange the ancients’ artistic concept or “environmental ethics” about the enjoyment of springs and pines, the “livable and travelable” familiarity feeling with nature has gone, which actually astonished me. Today, all kinds of new technologies are produced and greatly extend the possibilities to see our world being microcosmically and macroscopically, obscuring the real concrete feelings which cannot be imaginable by the predecessors. In such a contradiction, I begin to pursue a  creative angle of my view.


Fospel: Yes, such microcosmically and macroscopically views impacts us unfamiliarly. So from these experimental works, what sort of audiences’ reaction do you like to draw?


Lam Fung: Human being usually has a kind of self-satisfied mentality and feels our world is the only one. I hope to take off and arouse the diversity of the understanding on the “world” by adapting the macroscopic and microscopic views to suggest different perspectives, and maybe our attitudes will be more modest toward the world as a whole. Regardless whether the visual focus is microcosmically or macroscopically, how we are looking earth from outer space or looking into a cell deeply, it relates to organism. It is not man-made, not built, but of liquid, to draw awareness  as out of respect for life, which also deemed as a warning signal!


Fospel: This interactive three-dimensional sculpture – “Temple hung on air”, is a transboundary work, plays with the sense of people’s thrill for the unknown via multimedia means, where did the inspiration comes from? It seems that your works highly values the audiences’ feedback and  interaction, is this your emphasis?


Lam Fung: There is another name for this work called the Black Box.  The inspiration doesn’t come from a particular object, but from the uncertainty of the whole era. Living in this era, my thought forms a strong urge to research on the curiosity and mix feelings people face in unknown situation. The motive of the desire of human being includes the pursuit of fame and power and money are based on such feeling, which is an interesting phenomenon and ongoing thoughts for me. “Temple hung on air” is a trans-media work that is not static, the audience is placed into the work and the chain reaction of audience is an indispensable element. We may say, every audience’s behavior and reaction are the derivation of the original work, and achieve the original creative intention of the whole work via interaction. Compare with my contemporary ink painting where the emphasis of the interaction lies on resonances in idea and spirit, this trans-media work, “Temple hung on air” reinforces the behavior experience.


Fospel: So this three-dimensional sculpture is to research the psychological behavior of human being dealing with unknown, is psychology of interest to you?


Lam Fung: Yes. “Temple hung on air” is a practical application in psychology. In Austria the place I live is close to the former home of Sigmund Freud, The subconsciousness research of Sigmund Freud is still a mainstream in the psychology study today. The relationship between artist’s expression and his subconsciousness activity is correlated. My work corresponded to this relationship, transmitting information into the subconsciousness of audience. The exhibition applies mystery and surprise to convey messages: simplicity and frugality.


Fospel: What opportunity brings you to work with new media art? It is relatively a new art form. Do you deem yourself as a Chinese ink painting artist or a new media artist?

林峰:我在中国接触的一些中国画坛的老前辈,与他们学习水墨的阶段,是一种沉淀。水墨这种艺术形式,没有传承,没有一定年份的修炼,它的技法是很难被吸收和掌握的。我崇古,但也厚今,而新媒体艺术这一块,也同样有美学和技术层面的发展,这个层面从上个世纪40年代计算机被发明时就发端了,60年代的发展是带有实验性的,那时的工业设计就开始运用新媒体技术了,90年代逐渐走向普及,而我接触新媒体艺术,尤其是数码手段处理图像的时间也比较早,1990年我在浙江美术学院(中国美院前身)毕业举办了一次当代水墨的个展后,就进入有三百多年历史的维也纳皇家美术学院绘画与版画大师班攻读研究生。奥地利由于历史和地理的特殊性,吸收世界文化的能量很强,艺术风气也比较开放,我在那里也开始接触到新媒体。当时新媒体艺术的形式从平面,三维,到远程模拟都已经有了雏形,也许技术,包括硬软件有局限性,但艺术方向并没有受制。 我当时也发现我之前的各种艺术背景与新媒体有很大的互补并且可能创造一些突破。所以我一直没有停止对这种艺术形式的探索,在创作之外也担任传统媒介和新媒体艺术教育领域的工作。

Lam Fung: My early study in the Chinese painting field was a sediment phase in my development. Without heritage or without years of cultivation, the skills of Chinese ink painting is hard to absorb and to master. I respect the old art but recognize the urge for new aesthetic. The new media art has its own developments in modern era since the computer was invented in 1940s. Through the experimental development in 1960s to 1990s, it gradually walked into popularization. I started with new media in the 90s, using it as digital tool for image manipulation. This opportunity came after I held my solo contemporary ink painting exhibition in Hangzhou at the Museum of Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now China Academy of Art). I pursued postgraduate in the Master Class for Painting and Printmaking at Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, an academy with over three hundred years’ history. Due to its history and geography of Austria, the energy to absorb the world culture is very strong and the artistic atmosphere is relatively open, I started my experimental on new media. At that time, new media art had already rudiment applications for two-dimension, three-dimension and remote simulation, maybe technology of the software and hardware are limited, but the art direction wasn't restricted. I then discovered my distinct art background compatible with new media, discerning the potential to generate something intense.  I continue to develop intermedia art since and works as an educator in this field beside my traditional media.


我认为这种艺术与科学结合的方向使得我们观察世界的可能性又扩展了许多。随着工业化的发展,跨媒介的尝试,硬件软件日渐趋于成熟, 艺术家看世界的角度也随之转变,是一件很正常的事情。 但应该认清的是新媒体只是一件工具,一种艺术手段,与水墨依赖于笔墨纸砚这些形器是一样的道理,艺术家更重要的还是个人表达。 新旧媒体的区分,我觉得是一种比较封闭的看法。这次的展览也希望通过新旧媒体的有机融合呈现一些新的东西。水墨是一种精神载体,互动雕塑和光影装置则代表新的表达可能性。 我运用水墨中的灵动性和数码光影中那种稍纵即逝性的可溶性和抑制性,它们共存在同一个展览空间里有了很好的共同发挥,而任何一方面的缺失对于这次展览来说都会减损它的整体气质。但新旧媒体的结合是有机的,不能仅仅满足于“1+1=2”的单纯叠加,而是在不同的组合中创造出一个全新成果。

I believe the convergent of art and science let us expand the possibilities in understanding the world better. The impacts of modernity and rapid developments of technologies has changed our point of view so it is normal for artist to find new meaning in our time. While we recognize that new media is just a tool to some extent, it shares the same principle of ink painting that depends on brush, paper and ink. I think personal expression should be the key in art be it new or old media. This exhibition hopes to present the organic integration of new and old medium. While Chinese ink serves as a kind of spiritual carrier, the interactive sculpture and new media device extend the possibilities of new expression.  I applied flexible movement of the ink and temporal light movement to generate strong solubility and inhibitory property that exist in the same exhibition space. Lacking either aspect of them will reduce the temperament as a whole. The combination of the new and old medium should be organic, not an equation of “1+1=2”, but also create a brand new prodigy.


Fospel: Will you settle down in Shanghai? As for an international artist, why did you select this city to settle down?

林峰:上海作为国际化都市的的开放性无需赘言,我也在上海的高校担任艺术学院的客座教授。 我小时候常住在上海唐云老师家中学习中国画,当中也得到过一些老艺术家,比如油画家周碧初先生的关怀,这段在上海居住的经历对我后续的创作生涯影响很大,我对上海怀有一种很特殊的感情, 所以上海时常挂在我的心中。

Lam Fung: As a cosmopolitan city, the openness of Shanghai is obvious. I also hold a visiting professorship in a local university.  Besides, when I was young, I often stayed in my teacher Tang Yun’s residence in Shanghai and befriended many old artists like oil painter, Mr. Zhou Bichu. These experience in Shanghai has great emotional impacts on me, so naturally Shanghai has a place in my heart. 



Lam Fung (Lin Feng in hanyu pinyin), was a close disciple of modern ink painting masters Tang Yun and Zhao Shao Ang. Upon graduation from high school in Hong Kong in 1986, he entered the prestigious National Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts now the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou and participated in the contemporary ink painting movement.

1990年本科毕业后,他获时任奥地利维也纳皇家美术学院院长马克西米利. 米契尔教授的邀请免试进入维也纳皇家美术学院绘画与版画大师班为其研究生,其他教授包括当代艺术大师白水和阿努尔夫. 莱纳。1993年硕士毕业,获奥地利维也纳皇家美术学院颁与特等荣誉学术奖。

After graduating in 1990, he was invited by Austrian Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna to join the Master Class for Painting and Printmaking under Prof. Maximilian Melcher then Chancellor of the Academy where he also interacted with other renowned European artists including F. Hundertwasser and Arnulf Rainer. In 1993, he was awarded Master of Fine Arts with First-Class Honours by the Austrian Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna.


Lam Fung is an artist, educator and proponent of inter-disciplinary practice in contemporary art. He is founding member of contemporary art movement - Ink Forum. Lam has worked in Austria, Australia, China, Singapore and the United States; and taught fine arts and new media at tertiary level. He draws his aesthetic approach in art from his transcontinental experiences and finds inspiration from history and memories, contemporary events, myth and ritual. His works are found in the permanent collections of the Albertina Museum, the Austrian Ministry for Art and Science, Vienna City Government, Pacific Bell USA, Südwest LB Germany, Hong Kong University, Monaco royal family and other notable private collectors.