Chinese artist explores the beauty in darkness
By Jessica Laskey
Starting over is never easy. Artist Lin Fei Fei has done it four times.
First as a student in her native China earning her stripes as an artist. Then six years ago when she immigrated to the U.S. Then last September when she co-founded “a space in between,” a multifunctional gallery and street art exhibit space housed in a 12,000-square-foot warehouse in Mansion Flats.
And finally this summer when she closed the physical gallery and moved fully online to be more flexible.
“Before I moved to America, I had become a little bit established,” says Lin, a native of Dalian, China, who earned her master’s degree in oil painting at Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts and who was named one of 10 Contemporary Chinese Artists of the Future by the Wang Shi and Kuo Art Foundation in Beijing in 2016.
“I had worked with well-known galleries and museums, sold out collections when I was in college, traveled and worked abroad. I came here with nothing. Everything started from zero, which was very challenging but also really exciting,” she says.
To connect with her new community, Lin made the rounds, meeting gallery owners, selling art at conventions and festivals, and collaborating on projects such as public murals and installations.
“As I branched out to different cities and got jobs, I grew my branches,” Lin says. “It was a brave decision but also scary, but I’m full of passion and motivation.”
That passion is evident in her artwork, which is a striking combination of beautiful and dark. Her pieces use muted, contrasting colors to depict the human figure, both with skin and without, both serene and tormented, in haunting compositions that beg for a second look.
“My artwork has gone in three different stages,” Lin says. “In college, I was learning basic techniques for doing realistic images in really cheerful colors. When I graduated, I started to explore what I’m really interested in: humanity and darkness.
“People don’t want to go into the darkness, but it’s important to talk about, to show different aspects of life and humanity. Now, I’m branching out to the next level towards fashion, music, murals and merchandise, which uses not only dark but also very beautiful elements. I want to bring out the beauty in the darkness.”
Lin is passionate about bringing people together. As a child, she was lucky enough to travel frequently and see how different cultures incorporated art into their communities. Her family owns a restaurant, so she grew up with an appreciation for how food brings people together.
After building her network in Sacramento over the last six years, she and boyfriend Chris Jarosz started brainstorming how they could form a community of their own.
The duo’s nonprofit gallery and art education center, “a space in between,” launched in September 2021 on C Street to provide a community where artists could come together. But keeping the gallery running was difficult.
The building needed repairs, funds were tight and Lin’s and Jarosz’s individual art careers were taking off, leaving them exhausted. They closed the gallery this past summer and moved fully online to focus on artist representation.
“We want this concept to continue developing. We want to grow globally,” Lin says. “We want to connect people from different parts of the culture who are creating art. The key is being able to share with everyone. I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”
For information, visit linfeifeiart.com or Instagram @a_spaceinbetween.
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