神聖世界裡的俗世經驗─鄧卜君

王焜生 策展人、藝評家

回溯水墨繪畫傳統的發展,唐代之前的畫家琢磨於山水的形式,直至五代兩宋趨於成熟,元明之後規律發展,山水畫由簡單逐漸繁複,從裝飾性走向精神性,自造型入手精煉為形式的意境,以筆墨超越自然形象成為獨立審美的體系。現代主義的觀念瓦解傳統水墨的創作姿態,當代藝術挑戰山水畫的文化框架,藝術家所探索的本質不再侷限於形象的模仿與再現,甚至從材質與形式上解放,走向觀念的辯證,水墨只是諸多藝術創作材料的選擇而不是全然的必須。當代藝術以水墨作為創作的路線產生截然背道而馳的方向,其一是藉由水墨作為社會文化現象的批判與反思;另一個方向則是透過水墨創作,呈現藝術家對於傳統集體意識到更獨特具有個人詮釋性的發展。鄧卜君的創作,以後者作為對於其水墨藝術的理解與探索。

鄧卜君的水墨畫以山、水、樹、石為基本的元素,「以大觀小」的崇山峻嶺般之全景山水取景方式具有渾厚的氣勢。客觀整體地描繪自然,表現出並無確定觀念、含意與情感,反而具有多義性和無我的境界。如此對於山水描繪的大膽變革,與實景已經無實際的關聯,既非寫實亦非寫意,雖然有著具體的山川河流、樹林湖泊,看似極為真實卻又像夢境般,畫面可行可望、可遊可居,但是總在路徑轉換之間開啟另一個空間,出現了劇場式的舞台,或者是科幻小說與電影中的場景置換,在現實世界裡不可能出現的多次元宇宙空間躍然於紙上。首先,鄧卜君在畫面上的整體布局營造出兩個截然不同的景:整體畫面出現一個強烈指涉性的主體,如供桌、盆栽、鏡面的微觀構圖;當我們將視角如同攝影機不斷往畫面拉近時,卻陡然出現宏觀的山水景致,翻轉視覺經驗裡從宏觀到微觀的生理法則。

謝赫在《古畫品錄》中提出繪畫「六法論」:氣韻生動、骨法用筆、應物象形、隨類賦彩、經營位置與傳移模寫。這些論述可以用來檢視鄧卜君的水墨創作毫無扞格,可以說他的筆墨用法與技巧承接傳統水墨的點染皴擦與濃淡明暗,底面設色澤多層繁複堆疊製造出穩定的效果,與傳統留白的畫面處理有別,細密的點搓筆法交錯相疊,又以迴旋式的線條不斷重複增加山石的動態感。除了筆墨黑白相間之外,大膽使用彩墨做為底色以及在畫面上經常使用介於藍色和紫色之間的靛藍──一種具有三千多年歷史的還原染料,在現代社會中,被認為是對憧憬未來、渴望挑戰具有創造性的知識型色彩;近年又加上更高彩度的黃、綠、紫等色彩,增加視覺上的豐富性。〈六松圖〉、〈奇岩錯雲〉背景多次堆疊設色處理的靛藍製造出貴族般的神秘性,與主題的樹木或岩石的入世成為空靈精神性的調和;〈藍山翠塵〉與〈朱岩藍塵〉恰如色彩的繁華盛放,以及〈玄岩被翠〉層疊的翠綠將視線往中軸線遠方延伸。

鄧卜君的畫面結構處理,有如北宋時代對於樹木、山石、煙雲、水霧的畫法以及整幅作品的構圖與布局;郭熙〈早春圖〉筆法的凝聚力和積壓力,富含力度和節奏的動態感、范寬處理岩石山景的壯闊也在他的作品中可以看到。元代王蒙山水畫裡將畫面填滿,以及縱長的軸上做出山勢不斷連綿的堆疊,造成強烈扭曲與動勢的特點,在鄧卜君的構圖布局裡也可見;而在景致細觀之間反而又看到如同倪瓚「折帶皴」所呈現「似嫩而蒼」小中見大的逸氣。

〈止水岩〉裡的水上鏡面、〈天地供桌〉的單腳高桌、〈桌山之變〉的方形四腳桌面、〈大吉石〉的盆栽,都以近觀的方式處理大畫面,再以遠景的方式建構小細節,製造出視覺的時空錯置。透過一個承載的載體將傳統文人描繪山水如同胸中抱負的家國情愛瞬間成為怡情養性的隨手把玩之物,對於自然景色的壯麗以及人造風景的小愛,徹底在他的畫面翻轉了形象與應該具有的意義,呈現出當代幽默。藝術家在此開始顛覆水墨山水從傳統以來一直背負的包袱──如同文以載道的緊箍咒緊緊拉扯著文人「言必有物」 的負擔。

鄧卜君所創造出來的畫面迷離效果不只在細節上,而是以傳統水墨的技法卻在傳統水墨的畫面上做變異,呈現出來的反差效果就更為劇烈。水墨畫有別於西方繪畫的最大差異之一是多點視角的畫面處理形式,在鄧卜君的作品裡,細節處反而是不斷反覆出現多點視角的傳統做法,他所改變的是將遠景與近景的位置對調,比如在一個畫面上應該有的觀看邏輯,是先呈現大遠景或是山川河流,再近看才會出現人在其中相對應可能出現的小橋、涼亭、桌椅;可是鄧卜君創造出來的畫面是一個微小可以被觸摸的物件,進入之後反而變成一片巍然的山景,再往山景穿梭又是另一個不符現實的空間。因此他的畫面出現了多重的空間置換,與生命經驗法則的背離。在他的畫面裡,我們像是多次元宇宙的子民,它是能量、靈性與智慧的總合,一切的存有被不可見的能量、靈性與智慧所涵蓋,成為許多人稱之為神性的源頭。

〈太虛獨境〉呈現了宇宙洪荒的無限、〈盤磊魅影〉的神秘性超越人世的理性所能理解、〈團雲花心〉與〈昭孛圜兆〉不只是生命的開端,而是宇宙的啟始,無物滋生有物、有物化育萬物,這就是事物生成的實相;無物與萬物之間,正是我們棲身的處所。老子《道德經》認為,道大而虛靜;曹雪芹在《紅樓夢》開篇中寫女媧補天、木石前盟、太虛幻境,以小說的藝術形式來回答「我是誰?」、「我從哪裏來?」、「我要到哪裏去?」三個終極的人生追問;鄧卜君以太虛水墨及宇宙迷幻再次提出當代人的疑惑。然而當代藝術家對於人的提問不只是停留在困惑之中,隱然間他已經有自己的答案,夢境裡幻影情悟、看破紅塵,對於人生如夢的覺知,最後仍然要做一個夢醒之人。〈秀門競奇〉裡的世界又回到人間世、〈男女通不通(女通)〉與〈男女通不通(男通)〉就是藝術家紅塵入世的生命經驗 、〈特調血紅瑪麗〉儼然是當代生活的享樂主義寫照。

「內在體驗」(l’expérience intérieure)在法國哲學家巴代伊(Georges Bataille,1897-1962)的定義裡,包含迷狂、出神與冥想狀態,不屬於宗教,而是更高的神性境界,其所觸及的就是我們的內在經驗,逾越禁忌產生焦慮,但是穿越焦慮以後,禁忌便不存在。鄧卜君探觸了兩個禁忌:一個是傳統水墨的變異,另一個則是面對自己內在需求的道德藩籬,透過他的創作語彙連結到個人的生命經驗。他的作品以當代藝術的詮釋下具有隱含曖昧的情色性,這種情色性就是人天生具有的慾望驅力,可是以傳統筆墨處理如此當代性議題者則不多,其中的直觀性多了幽默、隱含的曖昧性又增加了抒情。在一個看似既傳統又嚴肅的水墨畫中勾勒出現代精神,將神聖與世俗之間的界線拉近,強化出當代特質。〈紫山紙山〉從類似現成物的拼貼,將一幅傳統水墨剪貼在藝術家的新創作上,形成新舊的對比,再以底色的差異製造出空間視覺的混淆,復又在畫面上繪製一方窗口,將視線延伸,打破以二度平面處理三度空間的格局,又令人想到比利時藝術家瑪格利特在畫面中製造出在現實裡的超現實幻境。

鄧卜君的作品有著強烈的「後現代情境」(postmodernity);當前論述文化形式的普及比英雄式的論述更為重要。在他的作品裡,從神聖性的形式進入到共同普遍性的內涵,也就是以有節度的準則,體現出藝術家與觀者擁有最大限度的內在自由。


Secular Experiences in the Sacred World – Teng Pu-Chun

Emerson WANG

Curator & Art Critic

Looking back on the development of ink landscape, painters before the Tang dynasty focused on the form of landscape, which gradually matured during the period of the Five Dynasties and the Northern and Southern Song dynasties before entering a period of regular development in the Yuan and Ming dynasties. Afterwards, ink landscape slowly evolved from a simple art form to a complex one and from emphasizing on decorativeness to centering spirituality. As it began with forms and refined into artistic conception, it transcended natural imagery with brush and ink and became an independent aesthetic system. After modernist concepts altered the traditional look of ink creation, contemporary art started challenging the cultural framework of ink landscape. The nature of the genre explored by artists has no longer been limited to the imitation and representation of images. Artists have even liberated the materials and forms, and shifted their focus to conceptual dialectics. In short, ink becomes one of the potential media for artistic creation rather than a necessary one. The ink creation in contemporary art has produced two completely different routes: one is to use ink painting to convey criticism and thoughts about sociocultural phenomena; and the other is to demonstrate the artist’s personal interpretation and development of the traditional and collective awareness. Teng’s work, in this case, falls into the latter and shows his understanding and exploration of ink art.

Teng’s ink painting comprises the basic elements of mountain, water, tree and rock. The panoramic view of the landscape characterized by mountains ranges with steep cliffs, which allows us to “observe the small from the large,” demonstrates a majestic momentum. While delineating nature in an objective and comprehensive manner, his expression is not confined by concept, implication and sentiment; instead, it reveals a polysemic and selfless realm. The bold and revolutionary depiction of landscape, neither realistic nor lyrical, is already severed from real sceneries. Although his images show mountains, rivers, woods and lakes, they look realistic yet dreamlike at the same time, allowing one to imaginatively wander and dwell in them. However, as the path takes a turn, another dimension unfurls, showing a theatrical stage or a change of sets like that in sci-fi novels or movies. A multidimensional universe, which can never appear in reality, suddenly surfaces on paper. First of all, Teng’s overall arrangement of the image creates two entirely different views: the overall image is occupied by a highly referential subject, such as the microscopic composition of an offering table, a potted plant or a mirror surface. When the viewer’s perspective, like the camera lens, zooms into the image, a macroscopic landscape dramatically appears, which reverts the biological rule of moving from the macroscopic to the microscopic in our visual experience.

In The Record of the Classification of Old Painters, Hsieh Ho proposed the “six principles” of painting: “spirit resonance,” “bone method,” “correspondence to the object,” “suitability to type,” “division and planning” and “transmission by copying.” The six principles are indeed suitable criteria for examining Teng’s ink painting. It can be said that his brushwork and techniques continue the traditional techniques of dotting, shading, texturizing and rubbing as well as the varying shades of ink. Yet, the colored background and the balanced visual effect created with elaborate layering is different from the traditional method of leaving blankness in the image. His thin, dense and overlapping rolled wrinkled strokes produce the dynamic momentum of rocky mountains with continuous, repeated spiraling lines. In addition to the traditional inking, he also boldly applies color ink to the background while frequently applying an indigo purple blue in his image. This vat dye that has more than three thousand years of history is considered an intellectual color that conveys hopes for the future, the longing for challenge and creativeness. In recent years, he also adds more saturated colors, such as yellow, green and purple, to render the image visually richer. Landscape with Six Pines and Strange Rocks Amidst Clouds show a colored background in indigo blue with multiple layering, and convey a sense of aristocratic mysteriousness, producing an ethereal and spiritual balance with the secular theme of trees or rocks; Blue Mountain, Green Specks and Vermillion Rock with Blue Specks are brimming with splendid colors; and the layered emerald peaks in Basalts on a Verdant Blanket extends the view to a distant point along the central axis.

The way Teng lays out the image structure brings to mind the painting approach of trees, mountain rocks, mist and the overall composition and layout found in the paintings of the Northern Song dynasty. One can see the concentrated force and accumulated pressure in the brushwork of Guo Xi’s Early Spring, demonstrating power and dynamic rhythm. Fan Kuan’s majestic representation of rocky mountains can also be seen in Teng’s work. The ink landscape by Wang Meng from the Yuan dynasty preferred to fill up the entire image, and creates unending layers of rising mountains on vertical scrolls to form strong twists and momentum. This characteristic can also be observed in Teng’s composition and layout. When closely viewing Teng’s landscape, details similar to the elegant technique epitomizing the “tender yet desolate” quality produced by Ni Zhan’s “folded-sash stroke” can also be detected.

The artist’s approach of first presenting close-up, enlarged images before constructing details in the form of distant views to create visual misplacement can be found in Water-ending Rock  with the mirroring water, in Altar of Heaven and Earth with the single-legged table, in The Change of a Table Mountain with the four-legged square table surface, and Rock of Fortune  with the potted plant. He utilizes a vehicle to present traditional literati landscape that was used to convey one’s patriotic sentiments, and instantly converts the landscape into a scholarly plaything for cultivating inner tranquility. Contrasting majestic natural landscape and one’s fondness of artificial landscape, the approach completely reverts the images and their meanings, exuding a contemporary sense of humor. Here, Teng starts to subvert the long-lasting responsibility shouldered by the ink landscape tradition – the binding burden that learned literati should always “have substance in their words.”

The mesmerizing effect of Teng’s image is not only shown through the details. He uses traditional ink techniques but creates variations in traditional ink images, producing a much more intense contrast. One of the most notable differences between ink painting and Western painting is that the former adopts multi-perspectives to formulate an image. In Teng’s work, he repeatedly applies multi-perspectives to the delineation of details. The change he makes is switching between the background and the foreground. For instance, the viewing logic dictates that the distant view or the landscape of mountains and rivers is supposed to be presented first in an image before the spectator sees further to find the corresponding bridges, pavilions, tables and chairs. However, Teng would first reveal an image that is a small object seemingly tactile before the magnificent mountain view is revealed. Yet, when traversing through the mountains, another unrealistic space would again come into view. Therefore, Teng’s image unfolds the multiple substitution of space and deviation from the principle of life experience. In his painting, viewers become residents of a multidimensional cosmos that is the summation of energy, spirituality and wisdom. In this cosmos, all existence is enveloped in invisible energy, spirituality and wisdom, merging as one with what is known as the origin of divinity.

Virtuality in Solitude portrays the infinity of the primal universe. The mysteriousness of Phantasmagoric Rocks surpasses human comprehension. A Flower of Ball-shaped Clouds  and A Comet Encircling in Brightness, instead of depicting the beginning of life, unveil the genesis of the universe – from the great void emerges the world, and the world gives birth to all things. This is the formation of all existence, and between the great void and all things is the place we inhabit. In Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu states that the Tao is great and lies in the silent voice. The beginning of Tsao Hsueh-Chin’s Dream of the Red Chamber talks about Nuwa’s mending of the firmament, the oath between the plant and the rock, as well as the illusory realm of the ethereal void. The author uses the art form of novel to answer the three ultimate questions about life: “Who am I?” “Where did I come from?” and “Where am I going?” With the ink representation of the great void and the mesmerizing cosmos, Teng once again poses the questions of modern people. Nevertheless, the contemporary artist’s questioning about the human life does not stop at confusion; in fact, it seems that he already has his own answer. He creates illusory dreams with a clear understanding of human emotions, seemingly seeing through the world and realizing that life is a dream. Eventually, he chooses to wake up from the dream. The world in Competing Wonders in a Delicate Realm brings us back to the mundane world. When Nature Calls (Female) and When Nature Calls (Male) are inspired by the artist’s life experience of submerging in the secular world. A Strip of Bloody Mary is undoubtedly a representation of the hedonistic life of the contemporary era.

The definition of “l’expérience intérieure” (inner experience) by the French philosopher Georges Bataille (1897-1962) includes the states of ecstasy, trance and meditation, which transcend the religious domain and reach a higher state of divinity. The inner experience discussed by the philosopher surpasses taboos and causes anxieties; however, when anxieties subside, the taboos exist no more. Teng engages in two taboos in his work: one is his alteration of traditional ink painting; and the other is that he faces the moral boundary of his inner needs and connects them with his personal life experience through his creative vocabularies. Using the creation of contemporary art, he interprets the implicit and ambiguous eroticism, which denotes human being’s innate drives. There are not many artists who engage in contemporary issues with the traditional medium of ink, and Teng’s intuitive expression has added a sense of humor while the implicit ambiguity also increases the lyricalness of his work. Delineating the modern spirit with the traditional and serious-minded ink landscape, Teng bridges the gap between the sacred and the secular, reinforcing the contemporary characteristics of his work. In Purple Mountain, Paper Mountain, Teng uses the collage of semi-readymades and pastes a traditional ink landscape onto his new painting, forming a contrast between the old and the new. Then, he produces a confusing visual space with the differences of the background colors before painting a window in the image to extend the line of sight to formulate a three-dimensional layout on the two-dimensional plane. Such approach brings to mind the Belgium artist René Magritte, who is known to fabricate surreal spaces with realistic setting in his work.

Teng’s work is charged with a strong quality of “postmodernity.” Nowadays, the pervasiveness of the discursive cultural forms is more important than any heroic discourses. In his work, Teng moves from sacred forms to the common and pervasive connotations, which is his way to maximize, with moderating principles, the inner freedom shared by himself and his audience.