By Zhu Linyong
BEIJING, Sept. 15 — At 68, Lin Xiangxiong, also spelled Lim Siang Hiong, a Chinese-born Singaporean, has already accomplished enough to be proud of.
He has staged numerous personal exhibitions in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Chinese mainland.
He has published dozens of painting albums, collections of essays and art reviews, and participated in and witnessed with great satisfaction the brisk development of Chinese art since 1983.
He is among the few to become an overseas adviser for the Chinese Academy of Arts, China’s top institution for artistic research in 2004.
He served as the chief designer of the Olympic Village, a residential complex for athletes attending the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
He heralded the 2005 Zhengzhou International Urban Sculpture Festival in central Henan province, working as the chief coordinator and curator.
As a result, he has become the subject of at least five biographies published in Singapore and China.
But he refuses to stop and rest on his laurels.
“I am a natural-born adventurer who always seeks to challenge the status quo, to create and innovate,” said Lin, a versatile artist, scholar, poet and advocate of Asian cultures, who also runs the nation’s largest gold mining company.
Most recently, the world tour of Lin’s largest-ever solo exhibition kicked off at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing.
Throughout his career, Lin has used art and culture as a powerful vehicle to bridge the East and the West.
Lin said he feels his cultural roots are in China, which is why he makes unremitting efforts to promote Chinese arts and culture worldwide in his lifetime.
“Chinese culture, especially ancient wisdom, is what I have lived by and benefited from as an accomplished artist and successful entrepreneur,” Lin said.
“I firmly believe that the Chinese civilization can make a greater contribution to mankind in the new century.”
Since the beginning of the 21st century, Lin has played an active role in promoting Chinese arts and culture, financing and co-organizing the International Symposium of the World Forum on Chinese Culture in the 21st Century along with the Association for Yan Huang Culture of China.
Lin describes the cultural symposium as a platform for dialogue through which scholars and business elites from different cultural backgrounds meet. He plans to bring it to Austria in 2014, to the United States in 2016, and to Africa in 2018.
“My artwork and the international symposium are two powerful instruments to help spread the message of peace and harmony among people from around the world”, he said.
Born in 1945 in rural Chao’an, southern Guangdong province, Lin showed a knack for art at an early age.
Although he left China at 11, Lin said his memories of the hills and fields during his childhood became a major inspiration for his future artwork.
After studying painting at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore from 1965 to 1968, he moved to Paris in 1971 to continue studying world art.
The experience gave a touch of Western style to his paintings.
Lin’s painting “has a touch of the Western modern art of Pollock and De Kooning,” Singaporean art critic Liu Kang once commented. “Immersing himself in various masterpieces from the West and East, Lin has finally forged his own artistic style”.
But Lin’s later paintings are “apparently more Oriental than his earlier works and more strongly reflect his inner world,” said Chinese art historian Shao Dazhen, adding that “his artwork, wrought with forceful lines, bright colors, and well-crafted compositions, carries a soul-stirring power”.
Lin is widely considered a relentless innovator who has pushed forward the Nanyang Painting School, which focuses on depicting Southeastern Asian landscapes.
However, Lin says: “I see myself a global artist who pays attention to issues that concern all mankind.”
This is evident in his 99 ink paintings on show at the National Art Museum in Beijing.
While most works deal with idyllic subjects, such as rural landscapes, farmers and fishermen at work, some others deal with such solemn issues as the aftermath of financial crisis and industrial pollution as well as those displaced by wars and natural disasters.
“The exhibition gives me a rare chance to summarize a 50-year artistic career. But certainly, I will move further in artistic endeavors in the coming decades,” Lin said.
By Zhu Linyong