Ling Yung: a woman without makeup
“My work is like a woman without makeup. She is not ugly, but just without makeup.”
We see no trace of the maximalism of a new generation in Ling Yung’s paintings, rather, there is an understated representation of perception. Her works depict flowers and characters in unique brush strokes and question the typical labels given by people. In soft contours lacking detail and boundaries, through petals, leaves or bare breasts, the artist rejects the single narratives of feminine beauty and returns them to a ‘barefaced’ status.
The flowers found in her paintings are not ones growing in nature, nor are they blooming blossoms of the imagination; what they allude to has more to do with their embodied auras. Ling, who grows flowers in her home, has tried many times to depict the appearance of the flowers but gradually discovered there is more to a flower than just projections of love so often seen in popular culture. In the work “the wayward cloud”(2021), named after Taiwanese director Tsai MingLiang’s erotic film, a tuft of flowers jumps out into the foreground, standing erect and magnificent. In another work titled “flower”(2021), the floral subject emerges as a silhouette from an oppressive black. There is neither gaudy beauty nor withered melancholy. Beauty and tenderness no longer exist, in its place we find a moment closer to the essence of life.
Ling Yung in her studio in Taipei
“Slowly, I’ve been able to ignore the compelling tenderness of the flowers in my paintings and have realized they are in fact even more charming and harmonious. Only in this way can they let go of their thousand-year fairy burdens to effortlessly play the fool. From such a dawdling state they are even more compelling and pitiful.”
Though she majored in costume design in university, Ling Yung has been eager to explore nudity. This is a nudity that is not simply taking off one’s clothes but more about removing covers to bring underlying things to light. She’s painted a great number of figures baring their breasts, using this most rudimentary and easy-to-understand corporeal symbol as a magnanimous expression. In “breakfast on pluto”(2021), a woman dressed in black half-exposes her breasts in a plain and casual manner while a translucent background implies a natural act. In Ling’s recent work, “smiling face”(2021), the face and arms are cut off from the subject, implying an excessive focus on the breasts, though each pair essentially represent themselves.
Ling Yung in her studio in Taipei
“What’s interesting is that adults are always unable to face their bodies honestly. Thus, more decorations are invented to beautify them. Lest it look ugly, we always intend to add affection onto it.”
“If we are fortunate to lift this curse and turn the panic and ugliness of nakedness into the ordinary one day, we will be able to sit easily in every place in the picture and become as the two faces in “the great titties.” We can see our honest makeup-free faces as Homer Simpson when we look back. We’ll smile and forget how to call ourselves.”
For Ling Yung, breasts are like a kind of passage between people, like when a mother is breast-feeding her child, or the feeling we get when we see breasts. She presents a very close view of breasts in one of her latest pieces, “the great titties“(2021), with two contented faces discernible in the nipples. Perhaps as the title of her work implies, such physical presentations are in fact great, fearless, and should rightly be great. “a woman without makeup” is a series of works that explores the corporeal aspects of the body in our raucous and violent climate. In her works, she has somehow returned to a makeup-free perception that is closer and more honest in its knowing of oneself, body, and object.
Ling Yung (born in Taichung, Taiwan, 1992) graduated from Shih Chien University, Department of Fashion Design. In 2017, she held a solo exhibition titled “Pumaconcon” at aura gallery taipei and participated in the 2017 “Taipei Art Book Fair.” Ling Yung was shown in the group exhibitions: “Correspondence: A Global Reflection on our Moment” and “New Situation: EM Staff Select” in 2020 and 2021. Her works have been widely collected by private collectors and have been featured in CANS Asia Art News.