林磐聳創作《聽雨》正值壯年之秋，此前一年，他毅然決然地辭去台灣師範大學副校長的職位，比一般預計的六十歲退休，提早了五年，提早退休的想法之一就是為了專心創作。隨後，他更加海闊天空，開創「大山無價」系列，其中一幅《退思》充分傳達了退休後的心情，在該畫的背後，以毛筆寫下他的感言: 「二○十二年八月一日台師大退休，人生里程轉彎，值得記錄，有如Milestone的巨碑。」「大山無價」系列不只 標示了他人生的里程轉彎，更是藝術上的一個里程碑，有別於過去的「我的台灣」系列，不只是畫面突破單純的台灣圖象，而且在尺幅、筆法上都有更多的變化及創新，除了特有的點滴、點描法之外，也加入了潑墨、暈染等技法，與《聽雨》同樣尺幅的作品如《夢的島嶼》(2012年)、《繁華》(2012年)、《疊翠》(2013年)等，俱皆佳品。近年來他還在成扇、圓形的紙面上創作，富有新意；今年最新的一件作品《行旅五帖》共五條幅，其實是一種直立式的長卷，多點透視，由下而上，五條幅中，有疏有密，分開陳列，形成新穎有趣的視覺效果。
常有人戲術林磐聳是台灣設計界的過動兒，因為他經常出差、旅行，行跡遍佈全世界，而林磐聳則認為，人有很多種，有些人屬於動物性格，有些人屬於植物性格，他由於從小在海邊長大，所以自行歸納為海洋性格，就是那種流動不息的海洋特質促使他產生飄泊不定的個性，因此長久以來投入國際設計推廣與交流活動，樂此不疲。他酷愛旅行，這是他保持創意的泉源之一，能激發五感共鳴，是一個人心靈的壯遊(Grand Touring of Mind)。他覺得，放空的同時，也是汲取靈感最好的觸媒。他保持創意的泉源之二是閱讀，他經常手不釋卷，博覽群書，他聲稱，旅行也是一種閱讀，這與古人的「行萬里路，讀萬卷書」不謀而合。
A Perfect State of Being
– Record of the Art of Lin Pang-soong at 60
In youth I listened to the rain in house of song, red candles dimly lit the silk bed curtains.
In my prime, I listened to rain traveling on boats, the river broad and the clouds low, geese wailing in the west wind
And now I listen to rain in a monk’s hut, my hair streaked with grey
Sorrow and joy, meetings and partings, are all nothing in the end, let the rain drip on the steps till the break of day
In several of this year’s speeches, Lin (Apex) Pang-soong referred to the poem Listening to Rain, by the Southern Song Dynasty poet Jiang Jie (c. 1245 – 1310), who vividly described the circumstances of listening to rain in three different stages of life, as it unfolds. Lin Pang-soong, whose hair is similarly “streaked with grey,” has gone through an ambitious youth and a lively prime, and has now realized that “sorrow and joy, meetings and partings, are all nothing in the end.” So, he can listen to rain throughout the night, with his mind as calm as standing water, clearly reflecting all things with ease.
The steady beat of raindrops falling is comforting, and most capable of stirring up the sentiments of artists. Painted by Lin Pang-soong in 2013, the ink on paper painting Listening to Rain depicts the island of Taiwan shrouded in rain and mist. The painting is a masterpiece in terms of both composition and conception, and is a significant milestone in Lin’s painting career. Listening to Rain (136 x 70 cm) records Lin’s ambitious venture into large-scale compositions and his experience with techniques of ink wash, which not only enhance the sense of depth, but also create the misty atmosphere of the rain. Both the scale and technique are seldomly seen in his past works.
Lin Pang-soong’s creation of Listening to Rain was during the transition between his prime and his later years. The year before its creation, he resolutely decided to resign from his position as vice-chancellor of National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), thereby retiring five years short of the standard retirement age of sixty. One of the main reasons for the early retirement is to concentrate on painting. Soon after, he further expanded his oeuvre and began the Invaluable Mountains series, in which the painting Invaluable Mountains: Retreat fully conveys the mood of retirement. On the back of the painting, rendered in calligraphy, he left “August 1, 2012, the day of the great retirement from NTNU, a change in the trajectory of life, worth recording, like a monument milestone.” The Invaluable Mountains series not only marked a transition in the trajectory of his life, but moreover a direction in his art. In contrast to his past My Homeland series, there is a breakthrough from the stock images of Taiwan, as well as the use of new painting techniques. In addition to pointillism, ink wash incorporated, as seen in Listening to Rain, and also other large-scale work, such as Dream Island of 2012, Flourishing of 2012, and Pinnacle of 2013. In recent years, Lin has found new inspiration in fan-shaped and circular formats. This year’s newest work, Traveling Pentaptych, is an ensemble of five hanging scrolls; with multi-point perspectives and compositional variations between dense and sparse, visually it is exceptionally engaging.
If I open the window in my heart, you will see colors of spring light.
Sung by Fung Fei-fei (1953 – 2012), the Taiwanese classic, If I Open the Window in My Heart, is elegant in its melody and lyrics, and has been used by Lin Pang-soong to describe how he entered the world of art. The one who opened the window of his heart was his father, Lin Ching-yun. Ching-yun is one of Taiwan’s pioneering photographers. From an early age, Pang-soong watched his father photograph their native county and felt his father’s attachment to the land. He often listened in on his father discussing with other photographers topics such as composition, color, and light, and the artistic seed was thereby planted in young Pang-soong’s heart. Ching-yun also had a passion for Western classical music, which he also passed onto Pang-soong, as something that nourishes the soul.
The Southern Song poet Jiang Jie came from a distinguished family, passed the highest level of government exams at a early age, and served as a high official. He was both privileged and famous for his literary talents, being known as the Cherry Blossom Scholar. Lin Pang-soong was also successful at an early age. While studying Fine Arts at NTNU, Lin established a workshop with other classmates in junior year. Their first business was to recreate the image of a nearby kindergarten. Gradually, Lin entered the field of corporate identity systems. In 1985, at twenty-five years old, Lin published a book on the subject, which has been republished continuously since, placing him at the forefront of corporate identity design in Taiwan and earning him the title “the Master of Design in Taiwan.”
Despite his early accomplishments, Lin Pang-soong remained humble and honest, which reflects not only his self-cultivation, but more importantly his family education. Although Lin Ching-yun has passed away for many years, his legacy and memory is stilled cherished by his friends and family.
During the Spring Festival (Lunar New Year) of 2005, Lin Pang-soong returned to his childhood home in Tungkang and saw the golden pothos planted by his late father. Lin suddenly felt a surge of inspiration and painted an arrangement of golden pothos in the shape of Taiwan, thereby creating the My Homeland series. The series began as live sketches, assembling plants, flowers, rocks, commonly seen in Taiwan, as well as abstract lines and patterns into the shape of the Taiwan island. Ever since, it has become almost a daily ritual, creating an image every couple of days, in a dialogue with his late parents and also the land of Taiwan.
A drink of icy water on a cold day, the taste is in my heart.
Lin Pang-soong often describes his approach to painting as “a drink of icy water on a cold day, the taste is in my heart.” His approach is slow and steady, like the flow of a long and winding river. Everyday he paints a little; slowly but surely, dot by dot, he pieces the image together, and from 2005 to the present, what he has amassed is a sight to behold. This describes not only his mental approach, but also the technical. With the Chinese brush and sometimes the technical pen, he progressed from early sketches to pointillism, constructing the composition through the build-up of dots alone. This in itself is a form of art; while others perceive it as tedious work, Lin takes pleasure in it. In January and April of this year, Lin’s exhibitions at the Fo Guang Yuan Art Museums in Taichung and Kaohsiung respectively, was titled A State of Being, evoking his approach to art, as reflecting the exhibition venue with poetic resonance.
People often jokingly describe Lin Pang-soong as hyper-active in Taiwan’s field of design, as he is constantly traveling the world. In response, Lin believes there are many types of people; some are like animals, while others are like plants. As Lin grew up by the ocean, he regards himself to be like the sea. It is precisely the rising and falling of tides that keeps him floating and drifting, tirelessly immersing himself in international design events. He happens to also have a passion for traveling, which serves as a source of inspiration to him, stimulating his perception of the world, as a personal grand tour for the mind. He believes, times of leisure is when inspiration strikes best. A second source of inspiration for him is from reading, and he is often found with a book in hand. He voices his belief that traveling is a form of reading, which exemplifies the Chinese idiom “travel ten thousand miles, read ten thousand books.”
Yet, excessive travel is not conducive to creating art, especially for energy-demanding large-scale artworks. Lin Pang-soong overcomes this problem by insisting on painting every day; even only for an hour to two, he forces himself to find time, usually early in the morning to late at night. He is adept in finding and making time to paint, such as time spent in the car, on the plane or even in meetings. After many years, he came to the conclusion that “if there is plenty of time, paint a large painting; if there is little time, paint a small painting.” In Lin’s living room hangs a piece of calligraphy by the traditional Chinese painter, and his former colleague, professor Cheng Shan-hsi (b. 1932), of the characters: “Diligently Treasure Time (Qin Mian Xi Shi),” which he sees as a motto to live by.
Walking my own path, a perfect state
In 2007 Lin Pang-soong received the National Award of Art in the Fine Arts category at the age of fifty, as the youngest award winner of the Fine Arts category as well as the first designer in the award’s history. Lin thereby created a new field of opportunities for visual designers, by bringing the profession onto the fine art stage. Although, his achievements in design in Taiwan are well-renowned, he humbly maintains that he had chosen a different path early in his career. He says “it was not an easy path, but it allowed me to see a different perspective in life; and because those who went down this path are few, I have the good fortune of being recognized.”
Back in Lin Pang-soong’s student days at the Fine Arts department of NTNU, visual design was not a prestigious field. However, having received numerous national and international awards since his entry in the field, has boosted his confidence as well as those of his colleagues in their vocation. Looking back on the path, it was not only a matter of “good fortune.”
Having received the National Award of Art at “half way to a hundred” is symbolic to Lin Pang-soong. It is a turning point onto another path, dedicated to painting. His success in design plays both a positive and negative role on his art. He is driven by his reputation, which can also be a burden. Fortunately, he has the spirit of the sea, in which “the sea encompasses a hundred rivers, it is great because of its capacity,” thereby encouraging him to forge another path.
On my curated project, Silkroad – A Contemplative Journey, during the summer of 2011, Lin Pang-soong worked almost exclusively with the medium of the folding fan, jokingly wishing to make attract many “fans.” I believe he is generous and modest, and his works great and moving. My opinion is also shared by his fans who made the exhibitions at Fo Guang Yuan Art Museums possible. I would like to acknowledge the warm enthusiasm of Ms. Huang Shu-chen, and also the Venerable Masters Chue Chu, Ju Chang, Ju Chuan, and Yu Chuan, for their support for Lin’s A State of Being – The Art of Lin Pang-soong at 60 exhibitions at both Taichung and Kaohsiung’s Fo Guang Yuan Art Museums. To have such exhibitions at the age of sixty is especially meaningful for Lin.
A.S.O. Culture & Art Foundation is another fan of Lin Pang-soong. Upon my introduction of Lin to the CEO of the foundation, Ms. Kelly Kuang, the foundation found Lin to be very agreeable and was pleased to sponsor him in this year’s exhibitions. When I first told Lin on the phone of the sponsorship, he immediately came up with a name for the exhibition, Walking My Own Path. At first, it did not dawn on me, until he pointed out that the foundation came from the mother company of leather shoes. I found his quick and witty response admirable.
Lin Pang-soong recalls, every ten years or so his life is met with turning points. At fifty, he received the greatest art award in Taiwan. Quoting Confucius’ phase “knowing the mandate of heaven at fifty,” Lin believes his mandate is art. One of the painting featured in the exhibitions at the Fo Guang Yuan Art Museums, Complete Freedom, perfectly resembles Lin’s present self. The painting’s circular format is densely filled with circles and dots of all sizes, like a magnificent constellation of stars in the night sky. Continuing the same quote from above, this year Lin Pang-soong will officially enter into the “year in which one’s ears are accepting [of truth, at sixty years old].” In terms of accepting, the quote speaks of one’s ability to accept everything one hears, without alarm or distress. Is this not a state of complete freedom or perfect being?
by Elaine Suyu Liu
(Translated by Timothy Chang)
Early Summer 2017, Great Taipei New Town
 Jiang Jie’s poem, Crossing Wu River by Boat, uses the imagery of cherry blossoms, and was therefore known as the Cherry Blossom Scholar.
 Taiwan Art: Image & Packaging published by the General Association of Chinese Culture in 2003, called Lin the “Master of Design in Taiwan.” Great Commercial Design Award published by the Ministry of Economic Affairs in 2004 called Lin the “Light of Design in Taiwan.”