Zhang Linhai graduated from the Printmaking Department, Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts. He started by studying wood engravings and then developed as a painter. Depicting bald children wandering through a wasteland and countryside are the characteristic of his works. The subject matter stemming from his personal pain and sadness as a child and reflects his childhood struggles and his dreams of escape and liberation.
Linhai rarely sketches his ideas beforehand and mostly uses oils. He will work directly work on the canvas and allows the composition to develop under his brush. It is not easy to understand Linhai’s artwork, because of his interrogation about life; his mediation about fate; his experience of life’s sorrow and happiness, are always expressed in mysterious confusion and self-liberation. Linhai expresses his idea in a very obscure and personalized manner, while at the same time he isn’t as tactful as some artists, who can answer any question by imposing more questions.
Also, “surrealism” is not appropriate in describing Linhai’s art because it is rather superficial and inaccurate. Lin Hai is a person of strong self-contradiction, he believes in fate but he also worships fate by opposing and even defeating it. He is his own God, but he never lights any candles for himself, instead, he only permits himself to roam in ‘that place’ freely and mysteriously.