Former residence of Lin Fengmian

Artists live in their own worlds. They are often melancholy by nature. Though on the surface they may appear passionate, cold, abandoned or innocent, they all reach into their own worlds for reassurance and inspiration. One great painter who used to live at the foot of the Ma Ling Hill perfectly fitted this profile, and his works were overflowing with desolation, solitude and emptiness. Even without his signature, the trained eye can easily identify  his paintings. Lin Fengmian was  a most celebrated artist and art educator, who, in his lifetime,  worked tirelessly to break down the boundary between Chinese and western arts.

His Residence on the Ling Yin Road was expertly designed by himself. He adored the superb location of his villa as “to the south across the lake are the Mid-Lake Pavilion, the Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon and views of the southern hills. To the east are the Autumn Moon on the Placid Lake and the Liou Park. To the west runs the Xi Ling Bridge from which the northern hills can all be taken in…” Lin lived in the villa for 10 years. You can still see the trees and flowers he planted around the house.

Born in Mei Xian, Guang Dong in 1900, Lin had a great liking for painting from an early age. He went to study in Paris at the age of 19. After he returned in 1925, he was made Professor and president of the Beijing Art School. At the invitation of Cai Yuanpei, Lin came to Hangzhou in 1927 and was the appointed president, founding the National Art Academy.

Influenced by Cai’s thoughts on aesthetic education, Lin advocated the New Art Movement. It took great courage for him to put Qi Baishi, a carpenter-turned painter, on the lecture podium of Beijing Art Academy. Not only was he an advocate for the fusion of Chinese and western arts, but he himself created an emotional style that captured a realistic relevance and national flavor. As a forerunner of the cross-culture art studies in the twentieth century, he had profound impact on later generations of painters in China. It is no exaggeration to say that Lin was truly the spiritual leader of China’s fine arts over the past century.

Constant displacements in Lin’s life affected and shaped his style of painting. During the War of Japanese Invasion, Lin wandered away to the remote southwest. Even when impoverished, Lin shut himself in, painting every day. He resigned his professor post in 1950 from the East China College of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou to become a full-time painter. Before long, his French wife left him and went back to France with their daughter. He was all alone in the world. Except for the tours organized by the Association of Fine Arts, he was only painting  at home. It was during those lonely days that Lin reached the consummation of his style, a most distinctive one to be coveted and copied by later artists. Throughout the 1950s, Lin’s works were slighted by the authorities for political reasons. He was so pinched for money that he had to turn over two of his paintings to the authorities in exchange for a meager living allowance. During the Cultural Revolution, frequent house raids made him feel  such a sense of hopelessness  that he flushed his paintings down the toilet. Lin moved to Hong Kong in the 1980s and lived his life as a hermit until his death in 1991.

Add: No.3, Lingyin Road, Xihu District, Hangzhou