The Roving Figures: The drawings of Karin Häll

The Roving Figures
– The drawings of Karin Häll

I walk slowly into myself, through a forest of empty suits of armor.
– Tomas Tranströmer

Swedish artist Karin Häll stuck several sketches of different sizes and shapes on the walls of her studio in Chuangku art community at Kunming: An eye, a tree, some gloomy faces, and The Life and Work, an artist’s handmade book from the coarse sandpaper. I was fascinated by the figures on these randomly arranged scrapes. They were lively yet slightly gloomy. It seemed as if they were talking to each other, yet they seem to have nothing to do with each other. These are moments from “life and work”, and figures invited by the artist to present themselves in between.

Karin was fond of drawing since she was a child. She was seriously criticized by the teacher for sketching in the textbooks, and was even asked to restore the books back to how they were look like. I can very much relate to her experience. Workbooks, textbooks, desks and walls could all be our canvas. No one can stop a person from drawing, just as you can’t stop a child from growing up.

We used to hike together on the outskirts of Kunming, enjoying the nature and overlooking the city. Drawing, she says, is much like hiking. It makes one relieved from the mental pressure. There is no pressure from “self-judgment” to do “official works”. I totally agree with that. Casual painting is very similar to hiking or walking. No specific reason or goal is needed. You’re just walking and drawing. After letting go the inner anxiety, you feel very much refreshed. They also often give people the illusion that we are busy and focused. In fact, more often than not, we are just being idle and distracted. It is said that the mind works best when distracted. Thoughts emerge naturally in inactivity, and then vanish automatically. Figures become the extension of roving thoughts, which in turn leads people to association and observing. That’s how we got the figures on the scraps of Karin’s paper. They are like the footprints of hiking in the hills, fresh, natural, firm and steady.

Karin’s drawings feature powerful lines and bold color bulks, emphasizing the contour of the figures and the stereoscopic aspect of them. This may have something to do with her sculpture practice. Her figures always start with bulky objects. In a recent exhibition, Karin used sculpture and finished products to make scattered black blocks on the wall. It seems as if they were fragments floating in the air or debris salvaged from the sea. In another work, “The Order of Things”, she put gloves, boots, books, plants, flowerpots and mud balls on a hilly setting of artificial hair. That very much reminds us the spaces in Giotto’s paintings, and the grotesque rocky mountains. The “finished” sculptures also offer us glimpses of Karin’s daily drawing practices: moving lines, wraparound bulks, and simple forms. Generally speaking, Karin would keep objects and figures apart from each other. But she could somehow make them associated with each other intrinsically. Those objects or figures are usually only half done. Or that’s how she intents people to see. This makes the figures detached from the roving thoughts, while the viewer’s attention is channeled to wander among the objects. She keeps the objects malleable, maintains the traces, and exposes the undertone. These are the labor work of her hands – covering, modifying, smearing, and emphasizing. That’s also how Karin works on her drawings. The traces of daubing and emphasizing are visible, and the paper being cut, bound, sewed and stuck. Although the drawings seem casual and were done freely, they demonstrate how she can control over the figures and strength to get particular feelings noticed. I think that’s the spirit.

As far as I can see, these figures are different moments from “life and work” that share common spiritual temperaments – fun, mysterious, and gloomy. For example, she likes to draw her left hand, figures from Nordic mythology, portraits shrouded in contemplation, and faces in the shadows. Besides, there are more bulky figures, such as houses, clouds, shoes, gloves, etc. This temperament might have come from the unique spiritual realm of northern Europe, championing simplicity and black. It reminds me of the patients in the ward of Munch’s paintings. Of course, there are some lovely and fun figures too. These figures, which are not deliberately created, have the same spiritual temperament. This is like a person who walks in a certain gait and posture that can be recognized from a distance.
An artist’s drawing is the most private stage, in which figures or texts are slowly come to present themselves. While the artist acts as the master of ceremonies, the figures come to look for their creator. It’s like how the Swedish poet Tranströmer put it that it’s not he who was looking for the lines, but the poems seek for him, begging to be presented. This is a mysterious process. Because of this, an artist or poet is not working on a mission that must be accomplished. Instead of forcing herself to create masterpieces, she just shares this process with others.

Without setting any frames and goals, she paints and smears freely. This is like natural breathing, strolling in the mountains, enjoying moments of silence, and preparing the figures to emerge. This is the pleasure and reflection brought to me by the mysterious and wonderful drawings of Karin Häll.

Luo Fei
September 30, 2019, Afternoon
Prague Cafe, Kunming
Translated by Nathan XiaoThe Roving Figures
– The drawings of Karin Häll



弗雷德里克·费慕林 Fredrik Fermelin(瑞典) 和丽斌
刘辉 杨鼎 饶建雄 李思雨 王成龙 张龙 蒋才 何汝婷 蒋启建 董春文 刀继成
刘再明 杨振琦 段宇航 邵琳鉴 王胜凯 李振宇 刘俊妤 张俊鹏 焦勇 刘梦云 梁紫瑞 黄梓恒 李红梅 魏陆婕 刘宇 李涛 陶昱希 晋锐娜 白再阳 汤邵元 和玉菊 张磊 马隽哲 徐国鑫 卞文俊 马煜程 杨琪 周子晋 张晨阳 闻宽 安炤宇 杨杰 李华 傅尔加周
现场音乐:Eilev Stoveland Dekko(挪威),Fredrik Fermelin(瑞典)


文: 罗菲







Outrageous, like a painting.

Outrageous, like a painting.
text: Luo Fei
editor in English: Sanne Raabjerg

Painting is probably one of the most intimate and vexing things in the art world today. It always provides stories about itself. These stories set a lot of road signs for later painters. Sometimes, it heralds some sort of end, and sometimes it heralds a return. More frequently, it is just an ancient game that makes people feel like they can continue on their paths. For many painters, painting is just a matter of their own interest, and the continuing growth of their vision and craftsmanship is fascinating, and nothing more.

But painting today is no longer the wild land of artists. Today’s artists are not only facing painting itself, but also the entire art world. People go from looking for breakthroughs, in the methods of painting, in the way of seeing images and in the performative part of painting, to painting the possibility of “painting a painting” and to painting the matter of “painting”. This does not only make “painting” more complicated, but it also makes “seeing paintings” more complicated, since they are no longer as intuitive. The task of painting is no longer just to represent or express something, but to provide different possibilities in “painting” and “seeing”. Correspondingly, this is the starting point of our exhibition today.

Fredrik Fermelin, an artist who graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Art in Sweden in 2015, came to TCG Nordica in September as an artist in residence. Here, he spent three full months focusing on painting. Before that, he mainly engaged in performance, installation, video and digital media, etc. Fermelin’s concept of painting is related to image generation in gif format. Two seemingly similar images are juxtaposed, and the audience themselves associate their correlation, similar to the method of making film montage. However, he just makes two paintings juxtaposed in space, not in time. Although he strongly denies that his paintings are related to the expressionist style, on the surface level they might seem to comprise expressionist tendencies, but that is not what he wants to pursue. He is more concerned with the potential constructional relationship between the pictures.

He Libin’s painting practice in recent years combines the way of performance art with blind painting. In the middle of the night, he paints his impressions and feelings on a large-scale canvas, both indoors and outdoors. In his practice of blind painting, painting, an art form with a long history, is forced into a critical state: Between visible and invisible, between known and unknown, between painting and non-painting. The only thing that can be identified and continually confirmed is the artist’s own existence and self-growth in the vast natural environment. This confirmation is accomplished through inner dialogue and contests in the long-lasting darkness. This turns the painting process into photography development: Developing it in the dark, watching it in the daylight.

He Libin’s and Fermelin’s paintings are very similar in style. They both use expressionism to paint landscapes, and they both provide an unconventional “seeing” experience. He Libin deliberately paints what he has seen when he cannot see; therefore, only time will show the final appearance of the painting. Fermelin’s juxtaposition in space of different paintings, creates uncertainty and dissimilarity in the paintings themselves and in the seeing of the paintings. They both paint in the most intuitive way, but at the same time they create paintings that can be seen on multiple levels.

For this exhibition, more than forty students from Yunnan Arts University participated in He Libin’s short-term expressive painting course. They combine their paintings with the practice methods of action painting, in order to discuss how paintings can be. Fredrik Fermelin, He Libin and the students present us with such a communicative exhibition about “Paintings Behind Paintings”. Here, I have just named it “Outrageous, like a painting”.

Curator: Luo Fei
Artists: Fredrik Fermelin, He Libin and his students from the Yunnan Arts University
Live Music on the opening: Eilev Stoveland Dekko, Fredrik Fermelin

Opening: 8pm, Dec 28th, 2018
Exhibition Time: Dec 28th 2018 to Jan 7th 2019 (Sundays Close)
TCG Nordica Culture Center, Chuangku, Xibalu 101, Kunming
Organized by TCG Nordica and Oilpainting Department of Yunnan Arts University

尚未完成:合订本2017计划 Not Yet Complete Project


















白雪娟绘画书 Drawing Book by Bai Xuejuan










阿俊(丽江)、阿南(大理)、八九(丽江)、白雪娟(个旧)、常雄(昆明)、陈梵元(昆明)、陈继平(昆明)、陈嘉雯(昆明)、陈蕊(昆明)、陈姝羽(昆明)、陈邑安(昆明)、成鱼跃(昆明)、戴丹娜(景德镇)、丁艾纯(昆明)、丁章玉(昆明)、董洁(成都)、董栙(昆明)、豆子(昆明)、Efat Razowana Reya(孟加拉吉大港市)、付美军(重庆)、戈捍(昆明)、戈楷(昆明)、钴叉(昆明)、郭棚(昆明)、郝煜(昆明)、和丽斌(昆明)、贺锦艺(昆明)、胡军强(昆明)、胡涯蛟(昆明)、黄成春(昆明)、黄越君(福州)、Jonathan Aumen(美国弗吉尼亚州)、蒋磊(昆明)、蒋若禹(重庆)、解炫(昆明)、金大伟(昆明)、兰庆星(昆明)、蓝皮(昆明)、老二(昆明)、Laetitia Deschamps(法国巴黎)、雷诺阿(昆明)、雷炜(昆明)、雷燕(昆明)、黎之阳(昆明)、李季(昆明)、李荣强(北京)、李瑞(昆明)、李尚武(昆明)、李婉璇(昆明)、李映星(昆明)、李泽嵩(昆明)、林善文(昆明)、刘和焦(昆明)、刘和森(贵州)、刘辉(昆明)、刘开懿(昆明)、刘丽娟(武汉)、刘香林(深圳)、刘子艺(昆明)、鲁啸天(昆明)、陆锦(昆明)、罗斌(昆明)、罗菲(昆明)、罗文明(楚雄)、罗文涛(昆明)、马力(昆明)、马维(昆明)、莫荧(美国阿拉巴马州)、牟思延(昆明)、慕容亚明(郑州)、年进军(昆明)、聂泰宇(昆明)、欧阳鹤立(昆明)、清水惠美(日本神奈川)、Shank(桂林)、沈琳霞(武汉)、舒扬(昆明)、宋梓萍(昆明)、苏家寿(昆明)、苏亚碧(大理)、孙逊志(美国加州)、唐志冈(昆明)、陶发(昆明)、陶锦(昆明)、王蓓(昆明)、五月(昆明)、武景民(楚雄)、夏华(挪威奥斯陆)、信王军(北京)、薛滔(昆明)、薛小晓(昆明)、严仁奎(昆明)、岩完(昆明)、杨辉(昆明)、杨雄盛(昆明)、尹天石(南宁)、应博睿(昆明)、余廷洋(昆明)、宰鹏飞(昆明)、张宸硕(昆明)、张华(昆明)、张琼飞(法国昂热)、张竹筠(北京)、赵磊明(昆明)、郑宏昌(北京)、周开成(昆明)、周扬(昆明)、朱思睿(宣威)、朱亚琴(昆明)、朱久洋(北京)

《尚未完成》合订本里李季的作品 Thought by artist Li Ji in the book of Not Yet Complete






Megumi Shimizu’s works (Kanagawa, JPN)

Not Yet Complete — One Volume Artist Book Project 2017

Today art has begun, but is not yet complete. I simply want to reveal the images of sensation(intuition), be it just a sliver, before its systemization.

“Not yet complete” causes one to remain suspicious, remain uncertain, and remain unfamiliar.

“Not yet complete” leads one to doubt utopia, nihilism, and the validity of universalism.

I do not have an optimistic view about the future of our planet, therefore I am expectant about the “not yet complete” now.

We may forget or push things aside, but there is always something “already here and not yet complete”. When this completion comes to past it will exceed all imagination.

Mankind has begun but is not yet complete.

— Luo Fei (curator)

Drawing by Laetitia Deschamps(Paris, FRA)


▎About “Not Yet Complete”

“One Volume Artist Book Project 2017” is planned by Luo Fei. The theme is “not yet complete”.

A (set of) artwork of the participator for sharing is demanded.

An artwork of “not yet complete” is uncompleted in reference to its state. It can be a sliver of an ongoing project, a discontinuous or even an unsuccessful artwork. It may be interrupted temporary or eternal. It can be a section, a part, a sliver, a fictitious sake, an unformed embryo, a protracted issue, a hunted issue, or a forgotten issue. Anyway, it is already here but not yet complete …

The progress, reason, and mode of “not yet complete” are decided by the participator. Mediums are unlimited. (e.g., painting, photograph, video, literature, music, layout, draft, minutes, account book, homework, etc.)

Everyone is welcomed to this year’s “one Volume”. The identity, age, nationality, census registration, and address are unlimited.

The “One Volume Artist Book 2017” includes publishing “Not Yet Complete —One Volume Artist Book of 2017” and holding an entity exhibition in Tai Project, Kunming. We have received 110 artworks in total from artists and people from different industries. They come from not only Yunnan province, but also other provinces of China such as Beijing, Henan, Guangxi, Fujian, Sichuan and other countries like Norway, America, Japan, and Bengal. Some of them are housewives, children, young artists as well as eximious proficient in art circles and each of them has at least one “artwork” which is not yet complete. As Li Ji, an artist, says, “Most things in our lives can never be completed, and not necessary …” Luo Fei, the curator, has an explanation on the idea of this exhibition, “’Not yet complete’ leads one to doubt utopia, nihilism, and the validity of universalism … In the long and not-yet-complete journey of life, everyone has infinite possibilities. And of course, everyone can be depressed because of ‘not yet complete’… However, as mankind, we have begun but are not complete. Every moment of present may be remodeled.”

慕容亚明的作品 Art project by Murong Yaming

▎About the “One Volume Edition Artist Book”

The “One Volume” is an artist book project — limited edition book, which was suggested by Lan Qingxing, originated by Xue Tao, Zhao Leiming, Tao Jin, He Libin, Zhou Kaicheng, Zhang Jinxi, Yin Yanhua in the end of 2006 and accomplished together by artists live or sojourn in Yunnan.

The “One Volume” is a spontaneous and self-supported project of artist association, which organized by different artists every year before the Spring Festival. The fund is from the participators in a way of low-cost crowd funding. The curator group and the organizers are volunteers.

Since 2006, the “Volume” has planned by these artists alone or in group: Lan Qingxing, Tao Jin, Zhao Leiming, Zhang Jinxi, Lan Qinglun, Duan Yisong, Zhao Guanghui, He Libin, Xue Tao, Li Zhong, Zhang Xingwang, Wang Han, Zhou Kaicheng, Xian Ge, Duan Min, Shi Yudong, Gong Honglin, Yin Yanhua, Zhang Hua, Luo Fei, li Rui, Tao Fa, Sha Yurong.

Curator: Luo Fei

Organizers: Xue Tao, He Libin, Lan Qingxing, Tao Jin, Zhang Jinxi, Zhao Leiming, Liu Lifen, Qiao Lidan.

Book Designer: Zhou Kaicheng, Luo Fei

Graphic Designer: Nian Jinjun

Opening Time: 3pm, January 27th, 2018

Take “the group photo of artists and Kunming” at the opening.

Exhibition Time: January 27th to February 3rd, 2018 (Closed on Mondays)

Address: Block A, Jinding 1919 Art Area, No.15 North Jindingshan Road, Kunming

Tel: 0871-65385159

刘丽娟作品 Art works by Liu Lijuan

▎Artists in the Exhibition:

A Jun(Lijiang), A Nan(Dali), Ba Jiu(Lijiang), Bai Xuejuan(Gejiu), Chang Xiong(Kunming), Chen Fanyuan(Kunming), Chen Jiping(Kunming), Chen Jiawen(Kunming), Chen Rui(Kunming), Chen Shuyu(Kunming), Chen Yian(Kunming), Chen Yuyue(Kunming), Dai Danna(Jingdezhen), Ding Aichun(Kunming), Ding Zhangyu(Kunming), Dong Jie(Chengdu), Dong Xiang(Kunming), Dou Zi(Kunming), Efat Razowana Reya(Chittagong, BAN), Fu Meijun(Chongqing), Ge Han(Kunming), Ge Kai(Kunming), Gu Cha(Kunming), Guo Peng(Kunming), Hao Yu(Kunming), He Libin(Kunming), He Jinyi(Kunming), Hu Junqiang(Kunming), Hu Yajiao(Kunming), Huang Chengchun(Kunming), Huang Yuejun(Fuzhou), Jonathan Aumen(Virginia, USA), Jiang Lei(Kunming), Jiang Ruiyu(Chongqing), Jin Dawei(Kunming), Lan Qingxing(Kunming), Lan Pi(Kunming), Lao Er(Kunming), Laetitia Deschamps(Paris, FRA), Lei Ruo’a(Kunming), Lei Wei(Kunming), Lei Yan(Kunming), Li Zhiyang(Kunming), Li Ji(Kunming), Li Rongqiang(Kunming), Li Rui(Kunming), Li Shangwu(Kunming), Li Wanxuan(Kunming), Li Yingxing(Kunming), Li Zesong(Kunming), Lin Shanwen(Kunming), Liu Hejiao(Kunming), Liu Hesen(Guizhou), Liu Hui(Kunming), Liu Kaiyi(Kunming), Liu Lijuan(Wuhan), Liu Xianglin(Shenzhen), Liu Ziyi(Kunming), Lu Xiaotian(Kunming), Lu Jin(Kunming), Luo Bin(Kunming), Luo Fei(Kunming), Luo Wenming(Kunming), Luo Wentao(Kunming), Ma Li(Kunming), Ma Wei(Kunming), Megumi Shimizu(Kanagawa, JPN), Mo Ying(Alabama, USA), Mou Siyan(Kunming), Murong Yaming(Zhengzhou), Nian Jinjun(Kunming), Nie Taiyu(Kunming), Ouyang Heli(Kunming), Shank(Guilin), Shen Linxia(Wuhan), Shu Yang(Kunming), Song Ziping(Kunming), Su Jiashou(Kunming), Su Yabi(Dali), Sun Xunzhi(California, USA), Tang Zhigang(Kunming), Tao Fa(Kunming), Tao Jin(Kunming), Wang Bei(Kunming), Wu Yue(Kunming), Wu Jingmin(Chuxiong), Xia Hua(Oslo, NOR), Xie Xuan(Kunming), Xin Wangjun(Kunming), Xue Tao(Kunming), Xue Xiaoxiao(Kunming), Yan Renkui(Kunming), Yan Wan(Kunming), Yang Hui(Kunming), Yang Xiongsheng(Kunming), Yin Tianshi(Nanning), Ying Borui(Kunming), Yu Tingyang(Kunming), Zai Pengfei(Kunming), Zhang Chenshuo(Kunming), Zhang Hua(Kunming), Zhang Qiongfei(Angers, FRA), Zhang Zhujun(Beijing), Zhao Leiming(Kunming), Zheng Hongchang(Beijing), Zhou Kaicheng(Kunming), Zhou Yang(Kunming), Zhu Sirui(Xuanwei), Zhu Yaqin(Kunming), Zhu Jiuyang(Beijing)

Special Supported by: Tai Project, Qianxian, Jinfulou

curator Luo Fei on the opening speech

opening at Tai Project, Kunming

Exhibition of Not Yet Complete