Chien Yu Lin (TW)
Text written by GHA
Taiwanese artist Chien Yu Lin, who lives in Austria, creates intimate studies of facial expressions in her close-up aquatints. The cropped framing and ornate accessories emphasise the facial features and question female identity.
The female faces with their fashionable ornaments are the focus of the prints, inviting the viewer to wonder who is returning their gaze.
Rather than objectifying these women as decorative bodies, their expressions emphasise self-confidence and demand respect. The enigmatic facial features are subtle and composed as they enclose the entire image, leaving the viewer to guess whether this scene is taken from a pool party.
Presented in delicate lines against a bare background, the figures are of different ethnicities. In absence of shadows, a neutral colour palette and plain ink surfaces result in minimalist portraits. The tight framing makes small asymmetries and imperfections more visible which lends the figures their character. This becomes even more material through their pronounced lines, highlighting individual strands of hair. Pointed shapes are juxtaposed with rounded lines, creating a playful contrast. Plain backgrounds enhance the focus on the figures and their challenging facial expressions.
A recurring motif in these portraits are the pearl drops. Whether they are drops of water, earrings, the frame of a pair of glasses or the cord used to tie them around a woman’s neck, the shiny pearls are always present. While the faces are more two-dimensional, the beads stand out for their depth and tangibility. In Chien Yu Lin’s intimate portraits, the women adorned with angular sunglasses and dewdrops shine through their crisp lines and complex facial expressions which constitute their agency. They leave the viewer reflecting on what it means to be female in this current society.
Late Autumn Midsummer