鄧卜君的變相石山水:幻景的寄寓

文/夏可君

石,山石,頑石,靈石,化石,雲石,看似某種名目,其實只是假借與寄寓,其實乃是無名之物,乃是某種幻視之物,激發人的靈視與幻視,一種個體心靈的占卜之物。石,山石,乃是宇宙晶體與靈性的弔詭合體,是中國文化以心傳心的神秘符碼,是中國藝術以形轉形的手法秘笈,是個體藝術家孤寂內縮與擁抱存在的生命密碼。能夠進入此遊戲的藝術家,一定被賦予了某種異秉,窺破了天機,看到鄧卜君的萬化之石,這心靈的基本語詞,我無比好奇地想試圖還原出卜君建構這樣一個通天塔式夢幻世界的視覺邏輯,這是可以寄託夢幻而不可摧毀的通天塔。

鄧卜君的山水幻境或幻景,不是傳統山水畫中南方翠鬱綿密的山林,或是北方斧劈蒼勁的岩山,而是從海島個人經驗而來的另一種生命地貌:海濱石岸,或者深澗岩壑,退卻了自然四時氣象榮衰的生長性,反而是歷經高古時間性的無人寂靜,是有人類記憶之前的山水,卻又是永遠無法摧毀的大自然的奇蹟元素,那是大地本身的堅實性和內在力量性,生命所存留的骨骼體格,是自然的永恆性對於卜君,石不僅僅是山川深谷之結體,也還是作為時間空間之本體:石既是混沌初開的洪荒裂變,也是風捲雲舒,大浪崩裂的幻變,石頭幻化了海浪層疊推移的態勢,寓動勢於壘石之中,石頭也是飄渺雲煙生長之實處,空中煙嵐亦作變滅飛動之姿,亦作崔嵬顛險的雲根之氣。卜君重新在自然中發現了一種幻視,一種退卻了神仙宗教投射之後的幻覺,一種再次虛的幻境,一種永遠立於彼岸,不關涉人類,但又似乎在人類夢想中來臨的幻景,一種可以模仿的深度自然生態(深生態學)藝術,一種可以寄託生死的變相幻境。

這還是帶有文化記憶的山水,我們可以從中回眸到唐代壁畫上的仙境,從「仙山樓閣圖」為主題的重彩設色開始的文化想像,從宋代傳趙伯駒的作品到仇英與王時敏的同名變體,再到王鑑的「夢境圖軸」,直到袁江與袁耀叔侄的系列作品,這是一個帶有無何有之鄉的「虛托邦」譜系,在當代最好的傳人,無疑是鄧卜君!他不僅僅繼承了山水畫的偉大傳統,而且還接續中國山水盆景的觀照方式,以小觀大或者以大觀小,同時涵攝人性與天道的雙重目光,但又融入雕塑的立體感與繪畫的平面性,看似巧手培植的盆景,卻又似宇宙天體的模型,或看似佛教的變相靈視,在墨點與線條可能懷抱的氣勢,還在無盡蓬勃地生長,似乎是一個偉岸的世界,但又可以被純潔的心靈所擁抱,所寄託。

卜君無疑獲得了某種轉化的妙法,即,在文化記憶與自然地理之間,在仿真與自然之間,透視與裝飾之間,縮小與遼闊之間,結構組合與塊面消散之間,在夢幻的虛擬縹緲與細節的真實可觸之間,重新觸發了山石的煙霞與靈暈(光環),即本雅明(W.Benjamin)所言的在切近與遙遠之間的反轉遊戲,山石的變相,被卜君賦予了靈性的色彩,無論是形態的夢幻感,還是色彩的絢爛,這是他塑造出的心靈對象,觀石,乃是一種心靈注意力的培育,一種虛無夢想的寄託之物,一種來自於自然的靈性教育!

在二十世紀還要發明出一種皴法是異常困難的,宋代山水畫以皴法確立了自己的語彙與基本面目,進入現代性,從黃賓虹晚期的塗寫,到傅抱石的抱石皴,在發明一種新皴法,一定有著獨特的新經驗:重新以驚訝的目光面對自然或宇宙,重新回到筆墨的觸感上,重新打開原初的直覺面對卜君的作品,我們看到山水畫的煙嵐樹石,風雨雪霧,最終在他筆下成為靜立一處的彼岸風景,石塊磊疊層層鋪排,怪石巉岩波譎雲詭形相不一,卻止於靜:水無痕,石千年,唯有顏色故,靜處的石,因長久靜置,使得這些山石彷彿蒙上了一層菲薄的鐵鏽,一種奇異的礦物色,這是鄧卜君所獨創的「搓點皴」此構造山石的手法,也許一方面來自於對海岸石塊沖蝕和亞熱帶山林蔥鬱草木的個體經驗,如石濤「苦瓜和尚畫語錄」所謂「山之位形萬狀,則其開面非一。……如山川自具之皴,則有峰名各異,體奇面生,具狀不等,故皴法自別。」而另一方面,這一皴擦手法使得石塊除了凌然秀澤的金石氣,還透出某種現代性斑駁陸離的蹤跡:石頭表面那隱隱的鏽跡,這種秀色與鏽跡同時在用色飽和度極高的畫面上形成了視覺衝擊力,石塊單純寂靜的形貌似乎就變得詭譎了。最為重要的也許還是卜君獲得了一種夢幻的靈視,那是另一個時空,是象形文字所構築的夢境,超現實的時空:既是虛幻縹緲的,同時又如鑽石一般堅實不移,這是兩種極端觸感不可思議的結合。現代生活的高牆也可以幻變為雲煙環繞,藤蔓斜倚的雲牆,一輪明月出牆來,這種對現實生活一隅的形式直觀似乎是對山水畫山川想像的另一種投射,磚牆塊面這樣一種現代幾何形式的單調拼接也能找到詩意的變形,似乎現代個體的困頓感也在透漏月光中輕微不覺地呼出一口氣。畫家亦以這種從向外觀看的視點冷靜地建構過另一種狹促石間的山水世界,這種類似窺視的角度是黠意的巧置,將遠和近,大和小集置於一點,一種現代式的以小觀大的「小中見大」冊。

觀石也是觀世?古典山水「可行可遊可居可臥」之品格乾脆在這個超現實世界中成為一張被子或毯子,帶有魔幻奇蹟的毯子,被折疊晾曬起來,飛瀑千尺,瀟瀟而下,那古典山水陳跡一邊被拾起一邊又散落著。這一張山水被子還有何用?也許正合莊子之意「徬徨乎無為其側,逍遙乎寢臥其下」適合做一個無用之大夢,正襯托出一個虛托邦之境。

這個變形錯置的夢境之極致乃是畫家的。「仙山盆景」如果說《彼岸系列》有著由海島地貌出來而來的圖像經驗和技法創作的話,那麼這些「仙山盆景」也許更多是源自於對海洋邈遠之處的想像。這和日本文化由海洋與島嶼演化而來的「枯山水」有異曲同工之妙。不同於中國的山水傳統,枯山水取意於極簡造型和禪意冥想,鄧卜君的「石山水」則反其道,極盡繁複危夷和仙氣羽化。這也許是對於邈遠神秘之境更為中國式的想像。文學中有大荒山無稽崖,藐姑射之山…… …此處鄧卜君的〈無用屹峰〉,〈白雲朱岩〉,〈摘星山〉……各種仙山造像危岩削立,崔巍嶙峋,一方面是依照傳統山水取勢聚氣,自然而然:「山從斷處而雲氣生,山到交時而水口出」,山水幽深,滌蕩胸意;另一方面亦有如西方哥特式建築一般骨立高聳,枯瘦森然,是結構和塊面雕塑式的造型二者的結合,使得看似巨幛山水一般的「仙山」其實又是一個縮微景觀的雕塑「盆景」。這就產生了一種視覺和想像之間落差,一種自由化變的外部山水和人工意趣的裝飾性平面景觀的怪異扭合,一種超現實語彙所帶來的擴展與收縮的奇詭張力。這就使得觀者能夠同時遊神於其中又游離於其外,這就是「仙山盆景」能夠同時作為主體意向投射和對象擺置之物這二者的張力和偏置。

卜君對山石的持續變相,從筆法的精細到意境的虛淡,從色彩的超然到絢爛,山石呼吸的節奏與氣韻,以看似嚴謹卻又如夢似幻的氛圍烘染出來,在宇宙記憶與文化記憶之間,重新為我們找回夢幻寄託的靈境。

Teng Pu-Chun’s Transforming Rock Landscape: Allegorical Scenes of Illusion

Text by Xia Ke-Jun

Rocks can be mountain rocks, obstinate rocks, spiritual rocks, fossil rocks, cloud rocks; these are all names used in the case of making examples and allegories. They are, in truth, nameless objects; they are objects of illusion. They allow one to see the spiritual realm and possess an illusory vision; in short, they are objects that reveal one’s inner world. Rocks, or mountain rocks, are a tricky combination of cosmic crystallization and spirituality. They are mysterious symbols used to make one’s thoughts explicit to others; they form the secret method to represent an idea with forms in Chinese art; they reveal an artist’s code of life after the artist has forged his or her own solitude and embraced the essence of existence. The artists, who are allowed into this game, must have been given a certain unique talent that enables them to perceive heaven’s secrets. Viewing Teng Pu-Chun’s rocks of infinite forms, which constitute the basic vocabulary of the psyche, makes me so curious that I attempt to look into his visual logic that he has employed to create such a fantastic world in the style of the Babel Tower—the indestructible Babel Tower that embodies one’s dreams.

The realms or scenes of illusory landscape delineated by Teng are not representations of the verdant, emerald forests of the south or the chiseled, majestic rocky mountains of the north in traditional ink landscape. Instead, they are another topographical manifestation of life stemmed from the artist’s personal experience of growing up on an island—whether the rocky seashore or the ravines and valleys, they are all portrayed without nature’s seasonal growth and decay but are imbued with the depopulated silence of the ancient time. They are the landscape existed before humanity, but symbolize the miraculous aspect of the great nature, which is its indestructibility, demonstrating the earth’s solidness and original force, the makeup and frame of life as well as nature’s permanence. For Teng, rocks do not merely represent the structure of mountains and valleys; they are also the embodiment of time and space. Rocks can be created by the chaos of the world’s beginning or by the tumbling waves under a clear sky; rocks reveal the dynamics of towering sea waves, and display a sense of momentum in stillness. Rocks are also where ethereal fog comes into existence, which can sometimes display a state of continuous change and is also the source of clouds surrounding steep mountain peaks. In nature, Teng has rediscovered an illusory vision that enables the formation of illusion without religious sentiments—a type of illusory realm that recaptures the void; a type of illusory scenes that manifest life’s other shore that does not seem to concern human beings yet always surface in human’s dreams; a kind of approximation of deep ecological art; and a kind of transformed land of fantasies, through which one ponders the issue of life and death.

Teng’s landscape conveys cultural memories. In his work, we can detect the ethereal realms depicted in murals from the Tang dynasty. This line of cultural imagination began with Pavilions in the Land of Immortals painted with vibrant colors, and continued by the representation of the theme by Chao Po-Chu in the Song dynasty, by Qiu Ying’s and Wang Shi-Min’s paintings of the same title, by Wang Jian’s A Scene of Dream, and by Yuan Jiang’s and Yuan Yao’s series of paintings. It has formed a genealogy of “chora-topia” that refers to the illusory and ethereal realm; and the most outstanding inheritor of this tradition in the contemporary era is unquestionably Teng Pu-Chun! He not only inherits the grand tradition of landscape painting but also continues the perspective of Chinese potted landscape, which aims to mirror macrocosm with microcosm and vice versa. His works simultaneously communicate humanity and the heavenly law as well as integrate the three-dimensionality of sculpture and the planarity of painting. The handcrafted potted landscape in Teng’s work also looks like a planetary model of the universe or a transformed version of the spiritual vision in Buddhism. The momentum and vigor delineated by ink dots and lines are still growing vibrantly into a majestic, otherworldly realm that can be embraced and entrusted by a pure mind.

It goes without saying that Teng has achieved a certain magical, transforming approach to delineate the hazy glow and glistening aura of mountain rocks, which he represents within a context posited between cultural memory and natural geography, imitation and nature, perspective and decorativeness, microcosm and macrocosm, structural combination and dissipating blocks, as well as illusory fantasies and realistic tangibility. This is similar to what Walter Benjamin has phrased a game of “reversal” between the close environs and the remote places. Teng has transformed mountain rocks and bestowed on them a spiritual color; whether created in fantastic forms or painted with splendid colors, these rocks are representations of the psyche. Admiring the rocks, therefore, becomes a cultivation of the ability to concentrate on the mind and psyche. The rocks are objects entrusted with the illusory dreams as well as the spiritual wisdom imparted by nature.

It is extremely difficult to invent a new type of texture stroke in the twentieth century. The ink landscape of the Song dynasty had established its own artistic language and fundamental look with its methods of texture stroke. Entering the modern era, from Huang Bin-Hong’s calligraphical brushwork in the late period of his career to Fu Bao-Shi’s “baoshi texture stroke,” the invention of a new style of texture stroke has revealed a new and unique experience—rediscovering nature or universe in a new perspective or returning to the texture of brush and ink. When viewing Teng’s painting in an intuitive way, we can see that the mountain mist, trees, rocks as well as the wind, rain, snow and fog in landscape painting eventually form an otherworldly view frozen in tranquility. The rocks, though piled up one layer after another and depicted in strange forms matched with treacherous water waves and clouds, are in a still state: the water leaves no traces of things passed by; the rocks remain the same throughout centuries, and their colors are unchanged as well. However, the rocks seem to be covered with a thin layer of iron rust – a distinctive mineral color – due to the fact that they have been laying still for a long time. These mountain rocks are delineated by Teng with his self-invented “rolled wrinkle stroke,” which might be inspired by the erosion of seashore rocks as well as his personal experience of being surrounded by the lush greenery of tropical mountains. It reminds us of what the painter Shitao
once stated in Friar Bitter-Melon on Painting: “Since mountains have numerous forms, their surfaces are also different….These are not the natural textures of the mountains themselves. The different names of mountain peaks indicate their real convolutions; the different forms have different surfaces of all kinds. Therefore, there are different kinds of texture strokes.” On the other hand, Teng’s unique texture stroke method has given the rocks a certain modern look of dilapidation – the subtle rusty color on the rocks’ surface – in addition to their original refine and elegant look and charm. The combination of the refined appearance and the rusty color create a sense of visual impact in the rather colorfully saturated image, rendering the simple, lonely look of rocks somewhat strange and unusual. Nevertheless, the most crucial point is still Teng’s spiritual vision that captures the dream-like quality; it reveals a different space-time, a dreamland constructed with hieroglyphs, a surreal world. It is simultaneously illusory and otherworldly as well as sturdy and solid like diamonds, demonstrating an unlikely combination of two textural extremes. Walls found in the modern life can be transformed into a wall of cloud in a misty environment, with crawling vines and a bright moon hanging above the wall. Such an intuitive observation of a view in real life can be projected in landscape painting in alternative form through imagination. Even a simple, unsurprising combination of modern geometric forms such as a brick wall can be transformed in a poetic way, offering modern individuals an outlet to quietly relax under the gentle moonlight. The painter has adopted a viewpoint that looks outwardly to calmly construct the landscape informed with narrow, small crevices formed between the rocks. The use of this unique perspective that conveys a sense of peeping is a clever design and arrangement that juxtapose the far and the near as well as the large and the small all on one point and embody a modern way to “portray the macrocosmic world with microcosmic representations.”

Is admiring the rocks not a way to admire the world? Classical landscape painting upholds the idea that one can “sojourn, travel, dwell, and lie down” in the landscape. This idea in Teng’s surreal world is converted into a blanket that is as magical as it is miraculous. When folded, it becomes a magnificent waterfall where water plummets a thousand feet, and the elements of classical landscape are arranged in various places in the image. What else can you do with this “blanket” of landscape? Perhaps one can refer to Zhuangzi who once talked about the use of a seemingly useless tree: “There you might saunter idly by its side, or in the enjoyment of untroubled ease sleep beneath it.” That is, Teng’s landscape is perfect for embracing a purposeless dream, which is the manifestation of the chora-topia.

Teng’s portrayal of this transformed and anachronistic dreamland culminates in his “potted landscape of the immortal realm.” If Teng’s Other Shore Series stems from his visual experience and techniques deeply rooted in the topography of an island, the potted landscape of the immortal realm probably originates from his imagining the remote places on the vast ocean. Such imagination coincides with “karesansui” (Japanese rock garden) that evolves from the image of sea and islands. Differing from Chinese landscape, karesansui aims for a minimalistic form and the contemplation on Zen. Teng’s “rock landscape” goes the opposite way, and is deliberately and elaborately depicted as unreachable and otherworldly. This might be a rather Chinese imagination of the remote, mysterious realm. Chinese classical literature also talks about the mythological, remotes places, such as the Baseless Cliff of Great Waste Mountain and Gushe Mountain. Teng’s paintings, including Useless Peak.Soliloquy, White Clouds Over Vermilion Rock.Water Flows Down and Star Picking Mountain reveals an array of steep, perilous mountains of an immortal realm. On the one hand, the arrangement of these mountains follows the artistic concept of traditional landscape that aims to naturally build up dynamic momentum with the topography—”cloud and mist arise from where mountains stop, and water comes out from where mountains meet.” The sublime mountains and profound water surely remove the burdens in one’s mind. On the other hand, the mountains stand erect and tall in an austere manner like Western gothic architecture, displaying a sculptural combination of structures, blocks and planes. This combination renders these “immortal mountains” that look like large landscapes to also resemble miniature and sculptural potted landscape, creating a disparity between visual representation and imagination. It is a peculiar combination of freely changing landscape at large and artificial, decorative landscape that is mainly two-dimensional. It shows a kind of bizarre tension between expansion and contraction through a series of surreal vocabulary. Teng’s approach allows viewers to mentally travel through the landscape and remain objective outside of the landscape at the same time. This is why Teng’s “potted landscape of the immortal realm” can demonstrate the tension and two extremes as it simultaneously serves as the manifestation of the subjective will and as the decorative object that the subjective will is projected on.

From his delicate brushstroke to the hollowness expressed by the artistic mood, from his reserved colors to the splendid ones, from the breathing rhythm and vital spirit of the mountain rocks, Teng’s mastery of the persistent transformation of mountain rocks conveys a sense of exactness as well as a dreamlike atmosphere, recapturing the spiritual realm where our dreams reside that is between universal memory and cultural memory.