Richard Lin was born in Taiwan and briefly educated in Hong Kong before moving to the United Kingdom in 1952. He studied architecture there, and developed a practice painting in primarily white on white. Although he began to work with metal and plastics after declaring that ‘painting is dead’ in 1984, he maintained a minimalist approach throughout his career. In 1976 he returned to Taiwan, where he advocated for geometric abstraction and minimalism as an alternative to modernism in China.
Each work in the series Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter features horizontal bands of primary colours flatly painted onto white canvases of different tonalities. As reflections on nature and the cosmos, their titles refer to a cycle of seasons, a trope in Chinese ink landscape painting that encompasses Taoist notions of change. The change in season is indicated by the position of the band and by its colour, and the white-on-white compositions can be said to echo the different tonalities of black in ink painting. The paintings exude stillness and clarity with clean lines, a lack of brush traces, and geometries that recall Lin’s training in architecture. With dramatically reduced forms, they transcend East-West dialectics, and their sense of rationality and universality reflects Lin’s humanistic philosophy.