My recollections of Mr Lin Fengmian

Takayuki Ooke

It was in 1984 at Ms Feng Ye's exhibition when I first met Mr Lin Fengmian. Feng was his adopted daughter. My first impression of Lin was that he was a kind and friendly old man. I did not know he was a painter. I only knew that he was happy and worried for his daughter's exhibition.

Later, I got to know Lin's works and style. He was totally different from the Chinese painters we knew at that time. I was greatly attracted by his unique style and I determined to introduce his works to our country. We held Lin's exhibition twice in Tokyo in 1986 and 90. Both exhibitions were very successful and many Japanese viewers admired and respected Lin. Lin often asked whether the viewers liked his works or not. When I told him that not only did they like his works, they also bought many of the exhibits. Lin stressed, "It is not a problem even if the paintings were not sold. I am only concerned whether they are appreciated or not." He also expressed gratitude for us organising his shows.

Lin was an artist who was concerned about art and not the sale of his works. Lin did not want to mention about his unhappy past. He devoted his mind fully towards painting and did not mind about fame and wealth. One time I asked him why he did not clarify that many of his works auctioned were forgeries and that his real works were indeed very few in number. This would greatly increase the value of his works. Lin said he would not do that because it would do harm to the vendors and buyers.

Lin became restless when selecting exhibits for his show. It was understandable since these products of long hours of hard work would be exposed to merciless criticisms. Lin spent long time in creating. In many cases, he destroyed his painting at the last stage when he felt the final strokes were unsatisfactory, and started all over again. That was why he fell sick out of excessive fatigue and had to be sent to hospital.

It was so sad that he finally left us forever. Although I had only known him for a short time, I saw in him the manners of a real artist. He also showed me how a man should be strong or gentle in different situations.


Han Mo magazine Issue 24

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