Exotic Dreams and Poetic Misunderstandings

  • Artist: Lin Wang
  • Creation date: 2019
  • Object type: Installation


Lin Wang (b. 1984) works with porcelain installations and performance art. Using blue and white porcelain as her point of departure, she creates narratives about East and West, trade in goods, cultural and political exchanges, the sea, seafarers and the body.

Wang invites the viewer to lavishly laid tables and extravagant meals. Her installations evoke associations with the beauty and rich symbolism of Dutch still life paintings, while at the same time eliciting a sense of discomfort and unrest. The still lifes include lovely painted porcelain, platters, vases and sauceboats, but also depict body parts, tattoos, skin and costume jewellery. She combines the elegant with the maudlin, and the kitsch with the corporeal. Her table arrangements provide the starting point for meals as social platforms for the exchange of ideas and concepts.

Mythology and fairy tales

When the artist was growing up in China, she read Scandinavian mythology and Western fairy tales that sparked fantasies of far-off countries. “Exotic Dreams and Poetic Misunderstandings” is the collective title of several of her art projects, bringing to mind the creative potential inherent in the imagination and cultural curiosity.

From China to Norway

Wang is Chinese, but lives in Oslo. Her background includes art studies at the China Academy of Fine Arts and the sculpture department at the Bergen Academy of Art and Design. With one foot in each culture, the Chinese and the Norwegian, she navigates between applied art, handicraft, design and pictorial art. Historical events, art history and personal narratives combine forces to form the groundwork for the ideas that Wang uses in her practice.

The endless blue sea

The sea and seafarers also play a role in this artistic universe. The endless blue expanse, which connects us and almost imperceptibly brings us across borders. The sea implies ships, goods, ports and seafarers. In Wang’s art these also appear as imitations of sailors’ tattoos on porcelain and on bodies, featuring semi-clothed women, anchors and sailing ships.

Traditional porcelain

White porcelain with blue decoration was developed in China, and was exported to Europe from the 1500s onwards. Blue and white porcelain gained popularity rapidly, and became highly sought-after first at the European courts and later in bourgeois homes. Today, blue and white porcelain is undergoing a renaissance. The patterns bear witness to exchanges between China and Europe. A key element here is the Silk Road, the intricate system of paths across land and water used to convey goods between East and West. The name refers to the transport of silk, a valuable commodity, but the route was also used to transport Chinese porcelain. Transport routes and trade networks paved the way for the exchange not only of goods such as silk, porcelain, tea and spices, but also of ideas, technology, politics and religion. Wang’s hybrid blue and white porcelain installations are anchored in history, and at the same time are highly relevant to today’s globalised world. She helps break down the borders between both countries and media, and opens the door to the constructive aspects of dreams and cultural differences.

Lin Wang

The Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts

Kunsthall Grenland

Entree Bergen

Work info

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Purchased 2020
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Owner and collection:
Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, The Fine Art Collections
Annar Bjørgli
© Wang, Lin/BONO