Isaac Tin Wei Lin Opens Show at Temple Contemporary

Isaac Tin Wei Lin

PHILADELPHIA -- On August 30th, Temple Contemporary opens Time Lines : First Words, a floor-to-ceiling exhibition of new works by Philadelphia-based contemporary artist Isaac Tin Wei Lin, whose densely covered surfaces of calligraphic, brushed and hand-drawn patterns immerse the viewers in the logic and complexity of written language. 

In Time Lines : First Words, Lin presents site-specific murals and new sculptural works that explore the convergence of representation and vibrant abstraction. The origin for these works comes from experiencing a global pandemic, public discussions of racial inequities, terrifying examples of climate change and recently becoming a parent, all of which have contributed to his pre-existing feelings of anxiety and anger.

Included in the exhibition alongside Lin’s abstract murals are new character sculptures influenced by his child’s interest in clocks, animals, and the moon; a collection of large biomorphic objects derived from Lin’s cloud drawings that sometimes double as furniture, and a room-sized perforated cube created from the three-dimensional realization of Lin’s patterning that prevents visitors’ physical access to a series of new paintings and drawings that are contained within.

Lin states: “My works are meditations on time, weather, entanglement, slowing down, and breathing. My practice is repetitive and pattern based, which leans toward contemplation and helps process my feelings about belonging, communication, and anxiety, among other things."

“Lines are painted over and over to obtain an opaqueness bordering on obfuscation. They are marks delineating time and place, acting as boundaries and camouflage. As a minority, I grew up in mostly white spaces, but even around other Asian Americans I still felt an otherness because of my interest in art and choice of profession. I grew up with a dualistic perspective and in an environment split into two worlds, which drove me to seek a more inclusive way. Qualities in art and painting and drawing have opened a path toward universal ways of seeing and thinking.”

Breathing Technique (2023), Flashe and gouache on canvas, 14” × 11”

Lin, whose work spans painting, screen-printing, collage, and installation, often collaborates with other artists in creating hybrid works.  He has had solo exhibitions at the Asian Arts Initiative, the Print Center, Fleisher/Ollman, and Gallery 543 at URBN in Philadelphia; Park Life, Queen’s Nails Annex, Woodward Flats in San Francisco, and Lamp Harajuku, Tokyo.

He has been commissioned to paint several large-scale murals, including four for Mural Arts Philadelphia, a multi-story stairway mural for Facebook's headquarters in San Francisco and a 13-story mural in Heerlen, the Netherlands, commissioned by Stichting StreetArt Foundation.

He has been featured in group exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, Fleisher/Ollman, Painted Bride Arts Center, and the Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art; the Hole, Bravin Lee, and Franklin Parrasch in New York City; Adams and Ollman Gallery in Portland; Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco; and Scooters for Peace in Tokyo among others.

Therapy (2023) Flashe and gouache on canvas, 20” × 15.875”

Lin’s work is in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Berkeley Art Museum, and Free Library of Philadelphia. He is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design (BFA ’98) and the California College of the Arts (MFA ’05), and an alumnus of Philadelphia's artist collective Space 1026.

Time Lines : First Words was curated by Temple Contemporary Exhibitions Manager Adam Blumberg with curatorial assistance from Ian Bosak (Tyler BFA Sculpture, 2015). This exhibition and its programs are supported by Keia Carter Simmons, Associate Director of Temple Contemporary. All artworks are courtesy of Isaac Tin Wei Lin and Fleisher/Ollman Gallery. The exhibition is made possible in part by the Temple University General Activities Fund.

Time Lines : First Words is on display from August 30 – December 9, 2023, with an opening reception on Wednesday, August 30 from 6-8 p.m.  Temple Contemporary, the Tyler School of Art and Architecture’s center for exhibitions and public programming, is located at 2001 N. 13th Street Philadelphia, PA 19122.  Gallery Hours are Wednesday – Thursday, 12:00 – 8:00 p.m., Friday – Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.