現實與想像邊界的心靈風景 
文/王焜生

從疏離冷峻的文化關係裡學習著孤獨,走過世界各地,又因緣際會在美洲工作,到亞洲各地旅遊,近期有了機會於台灣生活,柏丹(Daniel PULMAN)藉由身體在不同時空的轉換,思考的位移,視覺與聽覺感官的刺激,是異國情調的召喚,也是對於某種現實的逃離。從一位旁觀者的角色逐漸將自己投射在每個所身處的場景裡,他的凝視從日常生活的平庸單調,成為搜奇的異誌,他是一位漫遊者(Flâneur) ,無所事事地晃蕩、閒逛,在街頭張望著,觀賞街道或者山林溪澗發生的一切故事,自身也融入在眼前景觀中。

一系列在谷關旅遊,隨興拍下的台灣日常風景與人物,深印腦海裡的畫面又對照攝影照片中的景象,柏丹以類似觀光外來者的身分,以好奇的眼光審視在他身邊人們習以為常的事物,以「去熟悉化」(defamiliarization)的視角與眼光在畫布上表現了一種前所未有的自然現實。對於已經在這個環境熟悉的觀者,突然產生了異國風情,甚至有把故鄉化為他鄉的解脫感。柏丹的畫面帶有強烈的現實主義感,從浪漫主義過渡,跳脫純粹的感傷,他的情感有著適度的節制,甚至是刻意的要讓自己在傷懷與理性之間找尋平衡,即便是一群朋友間或家人的嬉戲遊樂,畫面上的情緒是被濃縮的,色彩與光線是被定著在一個最適當的時間點,他享受當下的瞬間,也將這個瞬間凝結成畫面的現實。

柏丹以真實的細節描繪在台灣島嶼的日常,以書寫歷史的、具體的人生圖畫來反映社會生活。他的畫面以形象的現實性和具體性來感染觀者的心靈觸動,使觀眾如入其境,但是他的色彩使用與類似浮雕的做法,將顏色強化出立體感,改變了既有的印象,此種創作手法源自於柏丹生活於紐約期間,曾於新表現主義藝術家朱利安·許納貝(Julian Schnabel)工作室擔任助手,此經驗為他往後的複合油畫創作手法提供靈感。除了對自然或當代生活做出準確的描繪和體現,摒棄過於理想化的想像,以細密觀察事物的外表,據實摹寫。藝術家以介於觀察的外圍者角色去書寫別人的情緒,又以自己的情感來進入情境的景致裡,使得畫面在冷靜之外又有著稍稍釋放的情感。

柏丹描繪了許多身帶刺青的一群青年的溪邊遊樂的場景、以及家庭的旅遊景色,以山岳的堅實冷硬對照人類情感的溫暖,畫面中可見一種現實之外與對於人際之間距離的思索。他感受到現實與心理狀態的矛盾,卻又緊守著不過度介入的、極為節制的手法來描繪自然與日常生活,但在一種存在即是被感知的立場上,要理解這個世界,就必須全然經由身體的中介才能產生知識;要理解身體對表象世界的知覺,更必須從肉體的情緒出發。思維奔身就是意志的行動,透過此行動,意念得以具體化或成形。尤其《谷關系列》完全展現柏丹在色彩使用上獨到的厚塗繪畫(impasto painting)功力,他已不是在一般二維畫布上「繪畫」風景,而是運用油彩和複合媒材來「雕琢」景觀,因此,即便是一個寫實的風景,在柏丹的手上與畫布顏料的融合當然就有別於其他藝術家的手法。藉由感官知識接收客觀資訊分析組織,以自然為題材,以自己獨特的技法具體表現出來,但是個別的成長環境及認知不同,就會產生大相逕庭的經驗,透過心理組織後的觀點差別,讓同一個題材的作品有了截然不同的呈現方式與手法。

觀看柏丹畫作有一種劇場呈現的效果,即便是寫實的場景都有著戲劇的張力,一種日常的生活成為具有現實存在感的對話。

Between Reality and Imagination: The Mental Landscapes of Daniel Pulman

Text / Emerson WANG
Daniel Pulman has learned about what it means to be lonely in aloof, distant cultural relations. He has been to many places around the world, worked in America, traveled through Asia, and lived recently in Taiwan under coincidental circumstances. As he moved from one place to another physically, Pulman has reflected on movement, from which the visual and auditory stimulations are both an exotic allure as well as a certain escape from reality. Gradually, from being an onlooker, he starts to project himself into his surrounding scenes. His gaze shifts from ordinary, monotonous everyday life to curious, arresting existences. A flâneur wandering, sojourning leisurely, he watches and appreciates stories unfolding in the streets, by a creek, or in the mountains, as he himself merges into the view as well.

This series of paintings are inspired by photographs taken randomly by Pulman during a trip to Guguan. The photographs feature common everyday scenes and people in Taiwan. As a tourist as well as an outsider, Pulman revisits the images imprinted in his mind and compares them to the photographs he has taken, examining the sights and things which people have taken for granted with a curious gaze. Adopting the approach and perspective of defamiliarization, he creates a natural reality that has never been seen before. To those who are familiar with the depicted environment, the paintings are suddenly rendered exotic. A spectator can even feel a sense of freedom in perceiving his hometown being transformed into another place. Pulman’s images convey a strong sense of realism, which departs from romanticism and moves away from pure sentimentalism. His expression of emotions is moderately reserved, and even shows a deliberate effort to seek balance between personal feelings and rationality. When he delineates a scene of friends or families playing together and having a joyful time, the emotion exuding from his image is condensed. The colors and light are solidified and fixed at the most suitable moment—the instant that he has enjoyed, and visualized into the image of his painting.

Pulman portrays the everyday landscape of Taiwan with realistic detail, and represents social living through history-making, tangible paintings of life. His painting touches the spectator’s heart with its realistic and tangible qualities of the images, which transport the spectator into the depicted scenes. However, his use of colors and the quasi-relief approach make prominent the three-dimensionality of the paint, and alter the stereotypical impression of painting as a two-dimensional art form. Such technique originates from Pulman’s experience of working as an assistant at the studio of Neo-expressionist artist Julian Schnabel when he was living in New York. The experience became a source of inspiration for the oil and mixed media painting, which he would develop later. In addition to his accurate delineation and embodiment of nature and contemporary life, Pulman throws away overly idealized imagination, replacing it with minute observation and depiction of appearances. From an observant outsider’s point of view, he portrays the emotions of people, while embedding his feelings in the scene, achieving a balance in the image that is characterized by both a sense of cool-mindedness as well as a slight release of emotions.

Pulman depicts in this painting series a group of young men with tattoos on their bodies having a leisurely time by a river and scenes of family excursions. By contrasting solid, warmthless mountains with the warmth of human emotions, the images reveal the artist’s contemplation on the distance between people, which is delineated in a way that sets the images apart from reality. He perceives the contradictions between reality and the state of mind, but holds onto his approach to portray nature and everyday life, an approach that prevents excessive emotional involvement in the scene and helps him stay reserved. However, since to exist is to be perceived, if one wants to understand this world, one must be able to produce knowledge through the full mediation of the body; and to understand how the world of appearances is perceived by the body, one has to start from the feelings of this flesh. An idea is itself an action of one’s will. Through such an action, the will is embodied or takes form. In particular, The Bathers of Guguan demonstrates fully Pulman’s mastery of impasto painting, which embodied his unique use of colors. Instead of “painting” a scenery on a flat canvas, he is “sculpting” the landscape with oil and mixed media on the two-dimensional surface. Consequently, even if it is a realistic depiction of landscape, it is only natural that the combination of the canvas and paint created by Pulman is different from that of other artists. He first perceives, analyzes and organizes the objective information received through sensory perception, and then utilizes his unique techniques to concretely express his natural subject. Because every individual comes from a different background, and understands things differently, which produces vastly divergent experiences. Difference of perspectives organized by the mind allows for utterly distinctive expressions of and approaches to an identical subject.

Pulman’s painting creates a theatrical effect, and even his depiction of realistic scenes gives off a dramatic tension, creating a kind of dialogue that gives ordinary everyday life a genuine sense of presence.