謝貽娟-心靈空間

易安妮 國際策展人

如果我們相信我們所體驗的一切,亦即我們通過感官感受現實世界、我們的記憶、我們的想像,都不過是一種特定頻率的能量震動,那麼世間萬物似乎就只存在於我們的意識中。但是,意識在哪裡?它不佔用任何空間,沒有次元,且存在於時間之外……但沒有它,我們就無法感知真實世界中的時間、空間和次元……如果沿著這個思路一直想下去就可以將世間萬物視為「無物」:似乎所有的一切都只是簡單的能量交換。這種概念極難理解。

對於我輩這些處理日常俗事都極為困難的人,寧願泡上一壺清茶,坐在窗前,一邊欣賞風景一邊品茗,也好過因無法理解的事情而困擾。1920年代的英國科學家亞瑟.愛丁頓爵士(Sir Arthur Eddington)有一句名言:「我們要嘗試理解『未知就是做我們不知道的事』」。老子《道德經》開篇中的一句話:「道可道,非常道」箇中涵意即與之呼應。

謝貽娟通過她的繪畫大膽探索這個終極現象:意識和存在的永恆謎題。謝貽娟是知名的臺灣藝術家,旅居倫敦多年,因此她的作品展現了東、西文化視角對「存在與不存在」這一命題的解讀,以及世間萬物的目的性和相互關連性。不同文化環境中迥異的生活體驗讓她對比較哲學研究產生濃厚的興趣:反思古代東方思想中的人類環境,同時瞭解量子力學原理和西方科學思想。旅居英國後,她已經創作了幾組不同作品:《音樂》(1995);《欲》(1994-2002);《時間》(1994-2004);《框內框外》(1998-2000);《易經》(1996-2000);《狀態》(1997);以及最近創作的《原,源,圓》 (1999-2003)。

這些純粹的抽象作品表現了謝貽娟在建立自身風格過程中,在藝術創作和修行方面的發展。她的繪畫深刻反省個人的欲望本性、企及內心寧靜的喜悅以及貫穿一切、無所不在的創造力。每個系列都代表著藝術家階段性發展的成熟,反映謝貽娟從太極練習和研讀佛經中獲得的心理和意識洞察力所帶來的靈感。作品還表現出她對物體運動如光和影的迷戀,以及感知的瞬間與無常。

自從1990 年代初定居英國後,謝貽娟逐漸從具象繪畫轉向抽象風格。在接觸超現實主義作品,閱讀西格蒙德.弗洛伊德(Sigmund Freud, 1856-1939)對潛意識的分析,進而對她的藝術創作產生重大影響。她開始使用符號、抽象的細部以及自由的形式作為表達人內在狀態的方法,與其在臺灣創作的早期作品相比,其構圖方式大相徑庭。她通過使用更抽象的顏色,特別是藍色調表現廣闊空間和無限時間的概念,從而進一步完善了她的藝術手法。自 2000 年開始,謝貽娟將藍色作為其主色調。從那時起,她開始接觸伊夫.克萊因(Yves Klein, 1928-1962)的作品,他於 1950 年代採用深藍色和樹脂混合顏料繪製系列抽象油畫而聞名。謝貽娟作品中對藍色的應用就是克萊因「藍色時期(Blue Period)」的再現。抽象的表達可以讓我們體驗更深刻和微妙的心理感受:每個人都對作品都有其獨特的解讀。她認為藍色「是精神與自由的化身,因為它給予我們廣闊和開放感受,同時也代表踏實與安寧。」對她來講,構思抽象的藍色繪畫就好像與自我心靈深處神秘、飄渺而遙遠的某些神秘的東西對話。就此而言,謝貽娟的抽象作品是對我們常說的靈魂或者精神的追溯。藝術家將此類體驗描述為進入「非空間」狀態,即對人內心世界的追求,謝貽娟是這樣解釋的:「它無形無邊,美麗動人,存在於內心深處……唯一可表達這種體驗的方式就是創作:音樂、詩歌、舞蹈或者繪畫。」

謝貽娟藝術發展的另一個轉捩點是接觸印象派畫家的原創作品。她被莫內的蓮花所感動,這簡單、平凡的花園池塘和花朵主題表現關乎存在的深刻哲理,則令她深深著迷。她驚嘆莫內以小巧、精緻的畫法所進行的創作,表現不同角度的光影投射,使其繪畫作品表面產生各種變化的幻覺。研究莫內的繪畫後,謝貽娟在其作品中使用了鉛筆、印刷技術、照相腐蝕技法以及其他複合媒材,在其畫布表面的抽象符號間形成張力,同時透過層層的單純色調表現所要呈現的景深。

如同在深邃且平靜的大海表面上的小小波浪,謝貽娟透過藝術創作表現了現實生活事物的短暫本質以及虛無存在的廣大無邊兩者之間的強烈對比。老子《道德經》第四十章曾謂「天下萬物生於有,有生於無」。注視謝貽娟的作品就好像注視這古代的智慧。她的作品提醒我們世間萬物,無論如何強大,如何改變我們的生活,遲早都會消失;所有的一切都會返回最終的無極狀態。

儘管西方現代藝術對其美學有巨大影響,謝貽娟仍保留了對其東方傳統的忠誠,特別是禪宗佛教藝術和哲學。在《粉末》系列作品中,謝貽娟使用強有力的圓形(ensō)書法符號,這個符號在禪宗佛教中代表宇宙的無限狀態,是一種高雅和完美的平衡。禪宗佛教徒相信藝術家的靈魂和特色可表現在畫圓的方法中。只有心理和精神完善的人才能畫出真正的圓,圓也一直被視為是教義中最神聖的符號。

我們亦在謝貽娟的作品中看到了古代智慧:在世俗間紛繁的事物中,每個事物的終結都是一個新事物或者其他事物的開始……如此直到永恆。謝貽娟的作品讓我們摒棄過去對於自己和事物的既定認知,而將圍繞在我們周圍無限和不斷變化的宇宙呈現給我們。如同〈非空間 No.3〉以及同系列的其他作品讓觀賞者思考從現實世界中解脫出來的可能性,藉此體驗純粹的身心靈。在這個情境中,謝貽娟沿用了傳統禪宗佛教徒的方法,讓創造力由內心而生,讓藝術家在不受任何思想、情緒和期望所禁錮的意識狀態進行創作。雖然在謝貽娟較早的系列,比如《音樂》中她更容易採用這個方法,但近期作品中更是精心建構的結果。謝貽娟使用了大量精心打造的、源自藏傳佛教經文符號的藝術手法。她將這個方法描述為「非空間」活動,藉此獲得身體和藝術感悟,同時與哲學思想結合,演化成其獨特的藝術視覺。

禪宗佛教視「絕對精神的自我實現」為最高真理,因此也是修行者要達到的最高境界。這個精神或者意識與哲學研究中的主觀精神不同。如前所述,意識為非本體和非客觀,它是超越取決於價值的物質世界的終極真實。如果我們從這種角度解讀世界就可以立刻知道很多都是虛幻的,人生的本質存在於精神之中。換言之,我們感官所感知的,我們所認知的,都是出現或消失於精神層面。這種實現因人而異,只能獨自體會。藝術家通過體驗精神本質以及存在,所呈現的形態應該是一種理念……一種說明,但不是體驗本身。

謝貽娟從未嘗試通過冥想或者藝術創作解決任何謎題。她擅長的領域是創作可將客觀推理和內在冥想結合起來的圖像作品,因此她的繪畫亦可結合東西方視角。她在藝術作品中傳達的智慧獲得普遍的認同和讚賞。《物理學之道》在 2000年代早期重新復甦,弗里喬夫‧卡普拉 (Frijof Capra, 1939-) 評論道:科學不需要神秘主義,神秘主義也不需要科學,但人類二者都需要。卡普拉認為量子力學理論的觀點與印度教、道教和佛教中的一些教義有相通之處,尤其是萬物皆有內在聯繫的本質這個觀點。此類超越傳統東西方二元性的觀察則在謝貽娟的繪畫中隨處可見。

科學家和那些神秘術士都告訴我們「意識」是無法用現有的客觀觀察世界的物理規則來解釋,換言之,它與觀察者是相互背離的。謝貽娟的作品為我們提供了瞭解觀察物與觀察者兩者關係的另一種方法。她的抽象圖畫讓我們審視自我的內心,並瞭解所有美麗的事物都來自於心靈。只有同時在藝術道路和靈性領悟中都已完善的創作者才能有勇氣和智慧踏上這趟艱鉅且前途難測的旅程。謝貽娟的抽象繪畫超越了文化差異、語言障礙和象徵意象的限制,它可以從萬物源頭與我們對話。那是我們每一個人的動人之處。

易安妮,國際當代暨新媒體藝術策展人,屢獲得獎殊榮,現任臺北當代藝術館客座策展人。主要策劃展覽包括:「魔境:澳洲當代新藝術展」,臺北當代藝術館,臺灣台北;「編碼」,臺北世貿中心,臺灣臺北;Impact by Degrees,澳大利亞大使館,美國華盛頓;「奇怪吸引子:澳大利亞科學與藝術展」,證大現代藝術館,中國上海;Unnatural Selection,林茲電子藝術中心,奧地利林茲;oZone,龐畢度中心,法國巴黎等。易安妮擁有美術與媒體藝術學位,外交與貿易碩士學位,專長為文化外交。目前生活於墨爾本和台北。

參考書目
Capra, F. (1975) The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticis, Berkeley: Shambhala
Hanh, T. N (1975) Zen Keys: A Guide to Zen Practice, Three Rivers Press, reissue edition (1994)
Waley, A. Tr. (1934) The Way and Its Power: A Study of the Tao Te Ching and its Place in Chinese Thought, Craws Nest: Allen & Unwin

Jo Hsieh : The Space Within

Antoanetta Ivanova Associate Senior Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei

If we are to believe that everything we experience – that, which we perceive in the real word through our senses; which we remember, and which we imagine – is nothing but energy vibrating at certain frequency, then everything would seem to be existing only in our consciousness. But where is consciousness? It does not occupy space, it does not have a dimension, and it exists outside time… But then without it we cannot perceive time, space and dimension as experienced in the concrete world… If one keeps following this kind of questioning, one may reach a point of seeing all everything in the world as‘non-stuff’: it would seem that everything is simply an exchange of energy. This kind of concept is astonishingly difficult to grasp.

For anyone of us, who finds it difficult enough to manage our mundane routines, we would rather make a pot of tea and sit by a window to sip its fragrant flavour while enjoying the view than get tangled up in matters we cannot possibly comprehend. Sir Arthur Eddington, an English scientist from the 1920s, once famously exclaimed that it is‘something unknown, doing something we don’t know what’ that we are trying to understand. Its Eastern equivalent resonates in the opening line of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching:‘The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao’.

Through her paintings Jo Hsieh has dared to explore this very phenomenon: the eternal mystery of consciousness and existence. Hsieh is an established Taiwanese artist, who for many years has lived in London and therefore her work expresses an amalgam of Eastern and Western perspectives on such questions as‘being and non-being’, and the purpose and interconnected nature of all things. The contrasting experiences of living between cultures has encouraged her to develop a deep interest in the study of comparative philosophy: reflecting on ancient Eastern teachings about the human condition, while at the same time reading about quantum mechanics and Western scientific thought. Since moving to England she has produced several distinct series of works: Music (1995), Passion (1994-2002), Time (1994-2004), The Inside and the Outside of the Frame (1998-2000), Book of Changes (1996-2000), Status (1997) and most recently Original, Source, Round (1999-2003).

These purely abstract works reflect Jo Hsieh development while establishing herself in, both, art and spiritual practices. Her paintings are deeply personal introspections about the nature of desire, the joys of reaching inner peace, and the beauty of the all-pervasive creative intelligence that runs through all things. Each series marks a period of artistic maturation, reflecting Hsieh’s inspirations from psychology and metaphysical discernment gained through to the practice of Tai Chi and reflections upon certain Buddhist texts. The artworks also express her fascination with the movement of matter such as light and shadow, and the transitory nature of the senses.

Since settling in England in the early 1990s, Jo Hsieh has gradually moved away from figurative painting to work with abstraction. Seeing works by the Surrealists and reading Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)’s analysis of the subconscious mind had a major impact on her practice. She started using symbols, abstract details and free forms as a way of expressing inner states of being, resulting in radically new pictorial constructs compared to the earlier works, which she was making in Taiwan. Hsieh further developed her artistic method by using more abstract colours, especially blue hues, to represent expansive spaces and a sense of boundless time. From 2000 Jo Hsieh would apply blue as her primary colour. By then she was looking at paintings by Yves Klein (1928-1962), who became known in the 1950s for his series of abstract canvases painted in ultramarine pigment mixed with resin. The application of blue colours in Jo Hsieh’s work is a direct homage to Klein’s ‘blue period’. Abstract expressions have the power to connect with us with the deeper and subtler levels of our psyche: each person would bring their own unique associations to the images. Hsieh comments that for her the colour blue ‘belongs to spirituality and freedom, because it gives us a sense of expansiveness and openness while at the same time it is grounding and peaceful.’ For Hsieh to contemplate abstract blue paintings is to be in touch with something that is mysterious, unintelligible, distant yet within ourselves. In this sense, Hsieh’s abstractions are a yearning for a connection with what we might describe as the soul, or the spirit. The artist describes the experience of such a connection as entering the realm of ‘None-space’ . It is a space to be found within the interiority of one’s being, ‘it is formless and boundless, she says, it is beautiful and it exists in the depths of the heart… The only way to convey such an encounter is through creativity: music, poetry, dance or images.’

Another turning point in Hsieh’s artistic development was seeing original works by the Impressionists. She was deeply moved by Monet’s water lilies and fascinated how such a simple and ordinary subject as a garden pond and flowers can express profound truths about existence. She marvelled at the small and delicate brush strokes that Monet used to create the impression of light falling under different angles to give the surface of his paintings the illusion of a changing atmosphere. As a result of coming in contact with Monet’s paintings, Jo Hsieh introduced pencil, print techniques, photo etchings, and other mixed media in her works, in order to create tensions between abstract marks on the surface of her canvases and the illusion of depth of field achieved through the layering of pure colour.

Like rippling waves appearing on the surface of a deep and calm ocean, Hsieh’s gestural marks express the temporal nature of anything that occurs in everyday reality against the immeasurably vast backdrop of the void of existence. Lao Tzu, in chapter forty of the Tao Te Ching observed that the myriad things of the world are born of being that arises from a source that is in fact a non-being. To contemplate Jo Hsieh’s work is to contemplate this ancient wisdom. Her works remind us that everything that arises – no matter how powerful or life changing it might be – sooner or later it passes away; everything that is formed returns into an eternal state of formlessness.

Despite the great impact Western modernist art has had on her aesthetics, Jo Hsieh has maintained a faithful connection with her Eastern heritage, and in particular Zen Buddhist art and philosophy. In her series Pigment, Hsieh uses the powerful ensō (circle) calligraphic symbol, which in Zen Buddhism is drawn as an expression of the infinite state of the universe, its elegance and perfect balance. According to the Zen Buddhist tradition it is believed that the artist’s spirit and character are revealed by the manner in which they draw an ensō. Only a person who is mentally and spiritually complete can draw a true ensō, the form of which continues to be regarded as the most sacred symbol of the doctrine.

What we find in Jo Hsieh’s art is an expression of an ancient wisdom: amidst the worldly comings and goings of things, each ending is a beginning of something new, something else… moving forward in an eternal continuum. Hsieh’s art is an invitation to let go of all preconceived ideas of who we are and what we know, and instead plunge into the infinite and dynamic creation of the universe that surrounds us. Paintings such as None- Space No.3 and others from the same series encourage the viewer to ponder upon the possibility of freeing oneself from all that is concrete in the world, thus, experience the mind-body-spirit in its purity: as it is. In this context, Hsieh continues the traditional Zen Buddhist approach towards creativity as an act that emerges from within, from a state of consciousness in which the artist is free from the limitations of thoughts, emotions, and expectations. Though while in her earlier series such as Music she followed this method more readily, in her latest body of work the images are deliberately constructed. Hsieh uses a range of carefully orchestrated gestural marks reminiscent of calligraphic symbols from Tibetan Buddhist texts. She describes her method as a ‘None-Space’ activity through which inspirations from the physical realm and the arts, together with philosophical teachings, give rise to her artistic visions.

According to Zen Buddhism the self-realisation of the Absolute Mind is considered the highest truth and therefore it is the highest goal for a practitioner. This Mind, or Consciousness, is different to the empirical mind that is the subject of philosophical study. Consciousness, as discussed earlier, is non-local and non-objective yet it is the ultimate reality upon which the world of objects depends for its value. If we approach the world with this kind of understanding we will spontaneously know that much of it is illusory, and that the nature of our ordinary life exists in the Mind. In other words, all that we see through the senses, and that we cognize, arises and disappears in the Mind. Such realisations are deeply personal and can be experienced only in solitude. Any shape or form that an artist gives to their own personal encounters with the true nature of the Mind – and existence – would be an idea… an illustration, but not the experience itself.

Jo Hsieh makes no attempt to solve such mysteries; neither through intellectual musings nor through her art practice. What she has become masterful in is the creation of images that strive to bridge objective reasoning and contemplative insights so that her paintings can draw connections between Eastern and Western perspectives. The wisdom conveyed in her art works is universally appreciated and admired. In the The Tao of Physics, which gained a renewed popularity in the early 2000s, Frijof Capra (1939-) comments that science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science, but human beings need both. Capra maintained the view that quantum mechanics theory had a common ground with some of the philosophical teaching of Hinduism, Taoism, and Buddhism, and in particular the belief in the interconnected nature of all things. Such observations, that transcend the traditional East – West duality, find expression in many of Hsieh’s paintings.

As both scientists and mystics teach us, consciousness cannot be explained by existing principles in physics which observes the world objectively, in other words separately from the observer. Jo Hsieh’s work gives us another way to access the mysterious relationship between what is observed and that, which is doing the observing. Her abstract images encourage us to look within ourselves and see the beauty of all there is from within. Only a creator who is established in their artistic career as well as their spiritual path can have the courage and wisdom to take on such an arduous and uncertain journey. Jo Hsieh’s abstract paintings transcend the limitations of cultural differences as well as the barriers of language and symbolic imagery, and it can speak to us from the source. Theirs is a beauty that can be found within each, and everyone, of us.

Annie Ivanova is an international, multi-award winning curator of contemporary and new media art, most recently an Associate Senior Curator at Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei. Major exhibitions include: Wonderland: New Contemporary Art from Australia, MOCA, Taipei; Encoded, World Trade Centre Taipei; Impact by Degrees, Embassy of Australia, Washington; Strange Attractors: charm between Art & Science, Zendai MOMA, Shanghai; Unnatural Selection, Ars Electronica, Linz; oZone, Centre Pompidou, Paris, amongst others. Ivanova holds academic degrees in fine and media arts, and Master of Diplomacy and Trade, specialising in cultural diplomacy. Lives and works in Melbourne and Taipei.

Bibliographical references
Capra, F. (1975) The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticis, Berkeley: Shambhala
Hanh, T. N (1975) Zen Keys: A Guide to Zen Practice, Three Rivers Press, reissue edition (1994)
Waley, A. Tr. (1934) The Way and Its Power: A Study of the Tao Te Ching and its Place in Chinese Thought, Craws Nest: Allen & Unwin