November 5, 2009

Zhi Lin's 'Invisible & Unwelcome People: Chinese Railroad Workers'

Zhi Lin - Invisible & Unwelcome People
Zhi Lin - Invisible & Unwelcome People
I saw this series of watercolor studies by Zhi Lin at a gallery in Seattle about a year ago. As a former student of his and as someone familiar with his earlier work (the staggering Five Capital Executions in China) I was impressed with how this new series seemed like both a continuation of his main interests and an investigation into a different way of working. His older works are impressive for the sheer number of figures depicted in their chaotic crowd scenes; in these newer pieces (in which Lin is exploring "the history of Chinese workers in the construction of American transcontinental railroads and the brutal treatment they encountered in the 19th century"), it is the palpable absence of people that is what is so powerful.
This series will be on display in the Koplin Del Rio Gallery in Culver City, CA from November 7-December 19. I wish I could head down there and see it again.

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