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画中无人,我写好这篇评论之后几个月

时间:2019-12-23 19:11

  一般而言,我不会根据看到的作品照片来评论某个展览的。有一次,有人请我为威尼斯绘画大师保罗韦罗内塞的展览写个评论,这个展览当时准备在华盛顿国家美术馆举办。但是,那本杂志希望在展览开幕时能刊登一篇评论,这就意味着我必须评论那些还没有到达美国的绘画作品。编辑说他们可以给我每件作品的幻灯片,这样我就可以以此来写。我写好这篇评论之后几个月,我去参加了展览的开幕。当我一走进去,我就意识到如果我是根据原作,而不是按照片复制品来写的话,我会写得完全不一样。我会写到颜色的光泽,而照片则无法让我有任何的感觉。韦罗内塞当时沉迷于生活的奢华之中,享受着佳人的怡人之乐。我的评论则颇多差异。几年之后,我读到约翰罗斯金给他父亲的一份信,信中写到意大利都灵市立美术馆的一幅韦罗内塞绘画是如何彻底改变了他对上帝和宇宙的看法。

  初识姬子(王云山)先生,即被其仁厚广博的胸怀所触动;再观其画,畅神与载道并重,这里的神是山川宇宙亘古激扬的风采,而非文人取象简略的即兴与闲适,也非笔墨游戏中的逃逸与自赏;这里的道既是天地之道,也是人格的铸造,画中无人,却处处跳动人本的力量,此力量外化为自然山川或荒寂、或广漠、或雄奇的状貌,营构出崇高而略带悲壮、神秘而发人幽思的山水世界。

  但是,我对姬子的绘画的全部了解来自于我在我的笔记本电脑屏幕上所看到的。姬子的某些作品有些是用中国传统水墨山水风格画的,但是它们和我在纽约大都市博物馆收藏的作品中看到的那些安详、禅悟的卷轴画不同,这些画里都有一些微小人物站在河边,甚至站在瀑布前,或置身在松柏深处的空地中,周围有白云,也许是朦胧迷雾。纯属偶然,我开始写这篇文章时正是去年的四川大地震一周年纪念日。我在想,那些建设了被毁掉的村庄的人们在看到他们脚下的那片大地的美丽绘画后,是否释然心安。就让我们把家建设在这片安静的山水中,周边群峰耸峙,河水在郁郁葱葱的溪谷中流淌!人们想知道他们是否曾想到这些山水,曾被大地的震颤笼罩着,大地裂开,如同巨蛇的大嘴一样,吞噬了儿童,就像抖落了树上的苹果一般,使他们陷入黑暗之中。

  姬子先生生活在塞外燕山脚下,几十年浸透在豪迈博大的山水环境中,其山水创作出神入化,在文化精神和中国艺术本体上达到了令人惊讶赞叹的高度。几次登门拜访姬子先生在北京的寓所,都深深感动于他的那种艺术执着,敬佩于他的绘画的那种酣畅淋漓、满目浩瀚之气。

  姬子作品的千山万壑沸腾着、震颤着,若湍流急水。人们感受到巨龙正处在焦灼的睡眠中。当它们苏醒之时,必纵身跃起,它们之上的大地将分崩离析,地壳深渊将张开大口。艺术背叛了那些建设村庄的人,他们把自然当作平静、舒适,当作可以吟诗的风景,或当作道之善的哲学探究。在姬子的绘画里,好像是变幻多端的云咆哮着鞭打着簇簇草丛。簇簇之草丛咬定根基,嵌入深邃的岩石土壤中。山川流水、海浪大地绵密相连,皆无分别。整个世界都破解着我们对和平与诗歌的梦想。

  早在南北朝时,宗炳就曾论到:夫圣人以神法道而贤者通,山水以形媚道而仁者乐。传统山水画价值判断的视点从一开始就奠基于道这一形上学的追求。有形仅是为了媚道,在对道的体证中达到自我的愉悦,因为道的抽象与混沌,由于媚道这一文化定位的制约,传统山水之形在保持一定程度的可辨识性的基础上只能是画者用笔墨符号组合堆砌的、主观化的虚拟时空,固定的图式、程式化的手法、相对稳定的价值取向成为传统山水画的显着特征。限制与约束虽然保证了传统山水画系统的完整与纯粹,使得古人能在范山模水中抒写胸中逸气,在超以象外的画境中体证悟道,但相对成熟的系统也会呈现出相对僵化的视觉语言。如何在这一悖论中寻找突破,不仅是传统山水历时性发展中的内部要求,在近现代中西文化碰撞与挤压中更凸现出变革的紧迫。

  我开始打开窗口,一次一个,找到了文本的附件。它很慢,对于我,有些漫长的过程,但是当附件是图片时,总是有惊奇藏在背后。我不曾料到山水转向苍拙的感性会是抽象。我的感觉是,这些作品像那些山水画一样,具有同样的野性感,差不多是原始感。在某种程度上,我感觉它们展示了自然所隐藏的神秘,如果我们深挖到地球里,将会有我们发现的东西,如洞穴和地壳裂口。或者如果我们撬开石洞,我们会看到神秘,发现一个小世界,和山川风景一样并不是荒蛮之地。

  已近古稀之年的姬子先生在五十余年的求艺悟道中,深刻感受到这种时代的焦虑、艺术发展的彷徨与困惑,他以仁立基,养浩然之气,在天道、地道、人道之间架构出自己的哲思,正如所说浩然之气,乃是天地之间的正气,它赋予人的是真善美的高度统一以及崇高、悲壮、凛烈、刚正和安详。艺术家的有为之作品,要体现无为之精神,即宇宙精神,亦即大道精神。艺术家不只是天道、地道、人道和谐相处的体悟者,而且也是倡导者,同时又是宇宙意识的追求者。姬子先生严秉这样的艺术追求,其作品正是此责任承载的具体体现,故名其山水为墨道山水。从下面一段话可看出其自律的追求,看我的画,产生不了愉悦的快乐,轻松的消遣或内行人对传统正统笔墨的鉴赏,但却能进行严肃的思想交流以及作品引发的方方面面。我的画,不是文人画的那种笔情墨趣、诗情画意,把玩戏墨、愉悦惬意的抒发心中逸气式的作品,诸如山居图、隐居图。袅袅炊烟,蒙蒙细雨,片片小舟、春柳轻拂、河鸭淌漾、鸳鸯戏水、芭蕉仕女等等。我画所迸发的是宇宙生命的不息运动及顽强地挣扎抗衡和深沉地呐喊。我力求用我的艺术语言洗刷人的压抑与困扰,谋求宇宙生命的真正含意。

  随着我打开一个又一个窗口,我开始想到一篇著名的诗歌,是19世纪幻想诗人柯勒律治写的。一定有中文翻译。它的题目是《忽必烈汗》,副标题是梦中奇景;片断记。柯勒律治把这次做梦看成是吸食了鸦片的后果。它之所以是片断,是因为他被一名来访者的敲门声给叫醒了。他从梦中醒来。这是开头的几行诗:

  艺术语言作为一种方式而非表达的目的,其根本在于述说什么、怎样述说,东西方传统艺术都各自有着自己的语言体系,但我们却能从这种差异中看到艺术精神的一致性追求。姬子先生的山水画正是带着如此的历史观、时代感以及强烈的使命感来锤炼自己的艺术语言,既深入传统山水画语言的纵向脉络,又对西方艺术进行横向剖析,在纵横择决中,为自我体貌开拓出一片新境。

  忽必烈汗建立上都,

  缘道立象心源造境

  下令修起了富丽堂皇的逍遥宫,

  象是视觉艺术之根本,不同的山水形象有着不同的趣味与境界。董其昌的南北宗论着眼于平淡天真的文人审美以及笔墨的独立意味来抑北扬南,在发展文人笔墨的同时却丧失了山水真景之美,且为图式的雷同与陈陈相因埋下了伏笔。南北有别,自山水画发展之初就已体现出来,但这首先基于造化之功,不同自然条件当有不同的地貌特征,荆、关领衔的北方山水画派与董、巨所开的南方山水画派庶优庶劣?这样的辨识并无多大意义,北地多豪气,南人多柔婉,审美取向的差异并不能直接说明其高下。姬子先生生于北地,自然受这方水土滋养,无论其冰雪山水、墨道山水还是后来渗透宇宙意识的自构新境,都显然源于北方山水。当然,个人际遇只是外部因素,心源和具有历史穿透力的文化认识才是姬子先生的内在驱动。

  那里有一条神秘的河流阿尔浮,

  姬子先生敏锐地抓住了传统绘画的超越性精神本质,继承了澄怀观道澄怀味象的思想,思考中国画所追求的最高境界究竟是什么。他从儒、道、释各家中吸取文化精神营养,体悟原天地之美而达万物之理、大象无形、大音稀声、视之无形,听之无声,于人之论者谓之冥冥的道的超然境界,并把道的狭隘理解推演开来,赋以时代的活力,他统称禅、儒、道的精神为大道精神,这种大道精神既是人格修养的有机内容,也是向自然投射的情怀,并最终以超越自然的象呈现出来。

  流经深不可测的岩洞,

  在其早期的冰雪山水中,多以西藏雄壮而神圣的山川和长城内外燕山山脉为主,经过主观的裁减,又幻化为带有普遍意义且气势空阔的景象,其中的典型藏区古庙和蜿蜒长城,是人类自身力量的显现,也成为画面的视觉中心;以连绵起伏的崇山峻岭为主体,崔巍雄奇、云层环绕、激荡翻腾,以静屹的建筑形成画面中的反动力,内蕴中迸发出极大的张力。肃穆圣洁的雪山,幽深诡秘、变幻多姿的云雾,庄严深邃的古庙,厚重沉闷的喇嘛长号,浓郁的宗教氛围,博大精深的民俗风情这种奇绝的自然风光、神秘远古的人文景观、厚重的文化积淀,向人类昭示着永恒的魅力和神秘的诱惑。墨道山水及其后带有宇宙精神的新构,进一步提炼出超越时空的山川景象,既像远古的溶洞、又如未知的外太空,各种山形交错、挤压,并与圆形相互层叠,形成多维的意象,具有强烈的象征意味,正如姬子先生所言:我所探索的山水画,画中的山水已不是自然界中用肉眼所看到的山,也不是其它山水画中对自然界山的摹仿化、装饰化、风景化的再现。而是一种符号,一种尽可能有意味艺术化的象征符号,我要借用这符号表现我主体思想深层的意识,使我的深层意识通过画中物,尽可能直觉把握地溢出来。他把传统山水画创作过程中的天人合一心理状态,通过直觉把握,直观地在画面表现出来,成为可视的审美对象,这种迹化的道境给人以神秘玄妙、崇高悲壮、圣洁之感。张力之大,境界之宽给人心灵震撼,灵魂似乎得到了一种超拔的净化。

  注入不见太阳的海中。

  局部塑形整体重构

  这首诗接着描绘了大花园,树林像山丘一样古老,环抱着阳光灿烂的草地。但是紧接着,好像我们正踏在地下的巨大河水上,河水流经洞穴,从那里,岩石穿空飞起巨大的片断一跃而起。

  勾、皴、擦、点、染是传统山水画笔墨表现的基本方式,或按照作画流程单独使用,或灵活套用;对于山石的表现,也大多石分三面,勾线后稍加皴、染,分出阴阳,从不同的山水地貌中提取并最终形成多种程式化的手法,如斧劈皴、披麻皴、折带皴、荷叶皴、马牙皴、米点皴等等,实际上是以线为单位或缩短为点、或扩展为面,形成了点、线、面三个不同的皴法集合。由于造象的独特性,姬子先生针对传统山水画在表现冰雪天地方面的薄弱点,创出了如雪麻皴、雪劈皴、雪坡皴、雪窝皴等独特的技法,体现为以面为塑造的基本单元,面里透线,灵动而不乏墨趣,形成斑驳沧桑的山石质感,颇为符合现代审美视觉;面与面之间的前后关系利用一定的明暗手法,既有体块的份量感,又暗合传统山石阴阳转化层层推进的平叠法。北宋的全景式山水不仅注重近取其质,追求局部山石的精微,从中体证物理,而且远取其势,在整体气势中透射出山水永恒之道。姬子先生充分吸收了宋人山水画中的理法观念,在局部塑形充分的基础上,整体上采用大架构,虚实相济,动静相参,满布画面的云气流荡在群山之间,多用层层积染的手法,既厚重淋漓,又小心留白,保持云气不可测其端倪的外形,显然是借鉴了西方风景画中白云的处理方式;同时,为了增强视觉上的对比度,在全景画中把握节奏感与兴奋点,姬子先生还巧妙的利用光的作用,最黑与最白的物象并置对比,视觉张力突显。

  姬子的山水让我想起柯勒律治描写沸腾的河水时那种荒原景象、宏阔的石头宫殿、散落的石头,纷纷地落入海洋中。

  传统山水画在构图上讲究布置与经营,更多体现出一种平面的意味,尤其是两宋山水画之后,空间感已逐渐消退殆尽,三远法也更多独立运用,引人入胜的山水空间不再可居、可游。视觉上的贫乏,自然不会激起内心的震撼,姬子先生在墨道山水系列中,完全打破了传统的程式化构图,进行立象重组,深邃而神秘的空间将人们带出现实的纷乱与困扰,进入玄远幽思的心灵圣地。为了布局的展开、景物的拓宽,道境的把握,他在继承传统的散点透视法,也即面面观的基础上,创造了四维空间以上的透视法,他称这种透视法为多维透视法。他说:宇宙至深至极,其时空没有方位、方向。尽可能地扩大作品表现形式的有限度和体现作品精神境界的无限。同时,改变了传统的虚实关系,一反传统的虚无淡化,融会贯通了西画的虚实关系,大大加强了作品的张力,并溶合版画的黑白关系,光效应,大胆启用被传统视为的死墨,加强画面的整体纵深感。同时也借鉴了平面构成的某些因素,光圈与山石透叠穿插,其明暗效应如同时空隧道般不可捉摸。

  我必须想知道的是我对梦幻与片断、岩石与河水的印象,是否有道理,如果我可以看到这些作品原作的话,或者这仅仅是由于电子传输而产生的幻觉?这些绘画作品的实际笔触是否实际上传递了一个完全不同的世界?

  庄严崇高幻化光辉

  2009年5月21日于纽约

  我的画,不是那种只停留在愉悦心情、陶冶情操的层面的东西(当然也包含这些)。我也不要求看我画的人都懂,我只求看我画的人的初始感觉,通过初始的直觉,进入理性思考,通过思考得出自己的认识,我想这种认识,不管以什么角度,都会和我的深层意识有关系。我力求这种关系的震撼力以及对于心灵的撞击与洗涤。姬子先生极为明确自己艺术的终极关怀与追求,他概括为诗的哲学化境界以及高度的人文精神境界,哲学的深度思考使其作品带有强烈的精神穿透力,甚至如宗教一般动人心魄。

  (丹托是美国著名艺术哲学家和艺术批评家,其着作《艺术的终结之后》与《美的滥用》影响巨大。)

  宗教作为一种信仰,其最大特点也许正体现为精神的超拔性和纯粹性。姬子先生说的好艺术的宇宙精神,不是宗教,却有着宗教性的精神。他的冰雪山水本就多描绘圣地气象,在荒寂苦难的雪域高原上,踽踽独行的牦牛、巍巍静谧的宗庙、供于膜拜的石上牛头都是宗教力量的集中体现,苦难与崇高、肃穆与庄严,人文生命与自然精神在共鸣同振中指向永恒。在西方绘画中,光是上帝力量的象征表现,上帝如是说:我在云层中放置彩虹,作为我和大地之间契约的证明。中国传统绘画摒弃这种外在显现的方式,而回归于内心的平静与自我调适,即使画面产生一定的明暗关系,也并非西方绘画的外光描绘,多主观处理。当西方绘画作为重要参照体系在20世纪涌入并挤迫中国画发展之际,许多中国画家开始采用光的表现形式,如黄宾虹灵动的内光、李可染厚重的逆光感,使传统绘画的形态语言得到新的拓展。姬子先生用光有着自己的特点,一是形象塑造时略参明暗法,增加局部体块的质量感,此用光方式可称为轮廓平光;二是出于画面构成的整体考虑,在物象重构中以光来界形,并统摄整个画面的节奏与对比,此用光方式可称为内结构光。两种用光方式的最大特点则是幻化不居,神圣光辉得以在每一个地方闪耀。

The Seething World of Jizis Paintings

  孔子曾提出人生自我修炼的方式志于道,据于仁,依于德,游于艺,在姬子先生这里,艺非仅游,而是承道、传道、体仁的不二选择,艺术便是其整个的生命。天行健,君子以自强不息,刚健的生命当使这位仁者的艺术自由无疆,其艺术爆发力将会持久地回响在悠远深长的中国艺术文脉中,特别是在中国当代艺术发展的整体格局中,中国的传统水墨艺术如何发展是一个重大文化选择问题,传统的并不是固守不变的,而如何变是一个艰难困苦的实践,多少画家都为此付出一生的心血。对此,我们要说姬子先生的绘画艺术创作实践为我们提供了研究当代中国水墨转型的良好个案,去读、去看将引发我们深入思考在当代艺术历史节点中的中国艺术,所谓大器晚成永远都是中国美术史的迷人课题。

- As viewed on a Macintosh Computer in a Manhattan Apartment on Riverside Drive.

  

Arthur C. Danto

The Benevolent Person is Boundless, His Artworks Impressive and Natural

2009

-A Discussion of the Essentials of Jizis Landscape Paintings

  As a general rule, I do not review an exhibition based on photographs of the works on view. I was once asked to write about a show of the great Venetian masters, Paulo Veronese, which was to be installed in our National Gallery in Washington. But the magazine wanted the review to appear when the show was up, which would mean that I would have to review paintings that were not even in the country yet. The editor said that they could give me transparencies of everything, and I could work from those. Months after I wrote the review, I went to the opening of the show. I realized the moment I entered that I would have written very differently, had I done so on the basis of the paintings rather than their photographic reproductions. I would have written about the glory of the paint, of which the photographs could have given me no idea. Veronese was obsessed with the gorgeousness of life, beginning with the flesh and skin and hair of beautiful women. My review was quite different. Years later, I read a letter by John Ruskin to his father, in which he describes how a painting by Veronese in the Municipal Museum in Turin changed his entire view of God and the universe.

Deng Feng

  But all I know of the paintings of Jizi are what I have seen on the screen of my laptop. Some of Jizis paintings are somewhat in the traditional style of Chinese ink landscape, but they do not look like the quiet meditative scrolls I have seen in the Metropolitan Museums collections, where small figures are depicted standing by rivers and even by waterfalls, in clearings in dark forests of pine trees, with clouds and perhaps patches of mist. By sheer coincidence, I started to write this on the anniversary of the great earthquake in Sichuan Province last year. I wondered if those who built those devastated villages were reassured by those beautiful paintings of the beneficence of the ground under their feet. Lets build our homes here in this quiet landscape, amid soaring peaks and waters falling through groves of evergreens! One wonders if they ever thought of the landscapes they were surrounded by as capable of shaking, opening up like the jaws of giant serpents, swallowing children they shook like apples out of trees, causing them to tumble into darkness.

  When I first got to know Mr. Jizi (Wang Yunshan), I was moved by his broad mindedness and compassion (ren). After viewing his paintings, I felt that both their uninhibited spirit and their ability to carry the Dao were equally important. By spirit here I mean the talent aroused in artists since ancient times by mountain, rivers, and the universe, not the impromptu and leisurely images of the literati, nor the escapades and self amusement of those who merely play with brush and ink. By Dao here I mean both the Dao of Heaven and Earth, and also the Dao that molds character. Even if a painting does not have people in it, still that painting pulsates with human strength. This strength is externalized as natural landscapes, some of which are desolate, some wild, and some magnificent. These paintings construct a world of landscapes that are sublime and also slightly tragic, and so mysterious that they cause people to meditate on them.

  Jizis hills seeth and tremble like troubled waters. One feels that mighty dragons lie in troubled sleep. When they do wake up, and stand on their heavy legs, the ground above them will split, and chasms will open up. Art betrayed the people who built those villages, seeing nature as calm and reassuring, scenes to write poems in, or philosophical disquisitions on the goodness of the Tao. In Jizis paintings it is as if the winds lash the grasses as they howl. The grasses hold onto their place by roots that run deep into the rocky soil. There is no ultimate difference between grounds and water, sea and soil. The whole world is hostile to our dreams of peace and poetry.

  Jizi lived beyond the Great Wall at the foot of Mt. Yan. For several decades he was steeped in a bold and broad environment of mountains and rivers. His remarkable landscape creations have reached new heights in the cultural spirit and main body of Chinese art, a cause for both admiration and surprise. I visited Jizis apartment in Beijing several times and was always moved by his artistic dedication, and admired the delightful vitality and vast spirit of his paintings.

  I began to open up, one at a time, the little windows in which attachments to a text are found. It is a slow, and for me, a somewhat tedious process, but, when the attachments are images, there is often a surprise behind them. I had not anticipated the shift from landscapes to what a crude sensibility would call abstractions. My sense is that these have the same feeling of wildness and almost savagery that the landscapes have. In a way, I felt that these show what lies underground, what, if we were to dig deeply into the earth, we would discover, like caves and chasms. Or what we might see if we were to crack open a geode, and discover a little world, no less savage than the landscapes insinuate.

  As early as the Northern and Southern Dynasties, Zong Bing had already theorized that: Sages use their own intelligence and wisdom to realize the Dao; worthies clarify their minds to savor artistic images that emerge from the Dao; in this way, both sages and worthies comprehend the Dao. Landscape painting uses forms to adorn and embody the Dao, allowing the benevolent (ren) to rejoice at finding enlightenment among landscapes. From the beginning, traditional landscape painting based the viewpoint for its value judgments on this metaphysical quest for the Dao. Thus forms adorned the Dao, and were physical signs of the Dao that provided pleasure to viewers. Because the Dao is abstract and primeval, and due to the constraints of the cultural position of adorning the Dao, the forms of traditional landscape painting, on the basis of maintaining a certain degree of identity, had the artists using accrued combinations of brush and ink symbols; a subjective, virtual space-time continuum; fixed drawings, stylized techniques, and an orientation toward relatively constant artistic values - all of which became the significant features of traditional landscape painting. These limits and constraints, although they assured the completeness and purity of the traditional landscape painting system, and allowed the ancients in the midst of their ability to model mountains and mold rivers to describe the unaffected spirit in their bosoms, and in the realm of going beyond the image to embody their intuition of the Dao, nevertheless, this relatively mature system also presented a relatively rigid visual language. How to breakthrough this paradox was not only an internal requirement in the historical development of traditional landscape painting, but also an issue that is now even more urgent in the face of Western cultures impact on and penetration into Chinese culture in the contemporary and modern periods.

  I began to think, as I opened window after window, of a famous poem by a nineteenth century visionary poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It must exist in a Chinese translation. Its title is Kubla Khan, and its subtitle is: A Vision in a Dream; a Fragment. Coleridge had this dream as the result of smoking opium. It is a fragment, because he was awakened by a visitor, knocking at the door. It tore him from his dream. Here are the first few lines:

  In the more than fifty years that Jizi, who will soon be seventy years of age, has pursued the arts seeking the Dao, he has deeply felt the anxieties of the present age, and the anxieties and confusion in the development of art. He uses benevolence (ren) as his foundation, nourishes his vast, flowing passion nature, and structures his philosophy from the Dao of Heaven, earth, and man. As the poet said: The vast, flowing passion nature is just the sense of righteousness that exists in the world. What this sense of righteousness confers on humanity is a highly integrated sense of truth, goodness, and beauty, and of the noble, tragic, strong, upright, and serene. The artworks of artists are the products of the artists taking an action (youwei) but their artworks should also embody a spirit of taking no action (wuwei). Taking no action is the spirit of the universe, the spirit of the great Dao. Artists are not only understand the harmony among Heaven, earth, and man, but also are proponents of this harmony, while at the same time they seek a cosmic consciousness. Jizi strictly grasps this type of artistic seeking: his artworks are concrete manifestations that he bears responsibility for this seeking for a cosmic consciousness, and for this reason he named his landscapes the Dao of Ink Landscapes. From the following quote from Jizi, we can see his self-disciplined pursuit of this goal: Viewing my paintings is not a cheerfully pleasant experience, a relaxing pastime, nor an experience that experts on traditional and orthodox brush and ink paintings relish, but rather an experience for those who can exchange serious ideas on all aspects of the artworks. My paintings are not the brush and ink works that the literati delighted in painting, they are not poetic paintings, and they are not paintings that play with ink, or that joyfully satisfy the artists wish to express his carefree spirit like all those paintings of mountains and recluses. My paintings do not have spiraling smoke, drizzling rain, floating boats, weeping willows, dripping ducks, matching pairs of Mandarin ducks, or Ladies Among the Plantain Trees. What my paintings set out to do is express the endless movements, tenacious struggles and rivalries, and the loud screams of life in the universe. I strive to use my artistic language to wash away humanitys depressions and troubles, and to seek the true meaning of life in the universe.

  In Xanadu

  The goal of artistic language is producing a mode of expression about art, rather than the purposeful expression of art. The fundamentals of this artistic language are what is being described and how it is being described. The traditional art of the East and the West each has its own artistic language system; nevertheless, we can see among the differences a consistent pursuit of the artistic spirit. Jizis landscape paintings use just such a historical view, a sense of the times, and a strong sense of purpose to perfect his own artistic language in order, not only to penetrate the vertical image sequence in the language of traditional landscape painting, but also to carry out a horizontal dissection of Western art, so that in making decisions about the vertical and the horizontal image sequences, the artist opens up a new realm for his own paintings features and figures.

  Did Kubla Khan

  The Dao Inspires Creation of the Image; Mind is the Source for Creating the Artistic Realm

  A stately pleasure dome decree,

  The image is the basis for the visual arts, and different landscape images present different artistic interests and realms. In his Discourse on the Northern and Southern Schools, Dong Qichang emphasized a plain and innocent literati aesthetic and, by stressing the independent nature of ink and brush paintings, Dong restricted the Northern School and raised the Southern School. At the same time that Dong was developing the literati style of brush and ink painting, he was also forfeiting the true beauty of landscape painting. By insisting on using similar graphic modes and following the same painting routine, Dong in effect waylaid creative use of the brush. The Northern and the Southern Schools have their differences, something already evident from the earliest development of landscape painting. But does this initial basing of landscape painting on creative accomplishments and on the different natural conditions of different landscape features allow us to say that the Northern School led by Jing Hao and Guan Tong was either inferior or superior to the Southern School established by Dong Yuan and Ju Ran? This type of differentiation is really rather meaningless. Northern places produce a bold people while southerners are more gentle, and differences in aesthetic orientation alone do not allow us to directly declare one superior and the other inferior. Mr Jizi was born in the North and was raised amidst northern lands and waters. All of his landscape paintings - no matter whether his Snow and Ice Landscapes, his Dao of Ink Landscapes, or his later landscapes of self structured scenes that permeate the cosmic consciousness - all these landscape paintings have their origins in Northern landscapes. Of course, an individuals encounters in life are external factors, Jizis inner drive comes from finding the source for paintings in ones mind as well as a cultural knowledge powerful enough to penetrate history.

  Where Alph the sacred river ran,

  Jizi has astutely grasped the transcendent spiritual essence of traditional painting. He has inherited the ideology of purifying the mind to glimpse the Dao, and purifying the mind to get the sense of an object. He has thought deeply about what after all is the highest realm that Chinese painting wants to attain. He has drawn cultural and spiritual nourishment from Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, and realized that transcendent realm of the Dao where the sages trace out the beauty of the universe, and comprehend the myriad of things in the universe; where great images have no forms, and great music uses sound sparingly; and where looking for it, there is no form; listening for it, there is no sound; and men who discuss it find it abstruse. Jizi has taken the narrow definition of Dao and extended it, endowing it with the vitality of the times. He collectively designates the Confucian, Daoist, and Chan Buddhist spirits as the spirit of the great Dao. This spirit of the great Dao is not only the organic content of personal cultivation, but also the projection of ones sentiments onto nature, both of which ultimately emerge as images that transcend nature.

  In Caverns measureless to Man,

  In the Snow and Ice Landscapes of his early period, Jizi primarily took Tibets majestic and sacred mountains and rivers, as well as the Yanshan mountain range both within and without the Great Wall, as his themes. After these themes underwent subjective cropping, they metamorphosed into scenes of universal significance and broad grandeur. Among these are scenes of traditional Tibetan temples and the meandering Great Wall, manifestations of humanitys own strength that are also the pictures visual centers. With the undulating, mighty mountains as the central subject, the magnificent towering mountains, surrounded by clouds that surge and billow, provide a counter force to the buildings on the towering, motionless mountain peaks, and to the great tension that lies hidden inside these mountains. The solemn and sacred snow mountains that are deep and secretive change into varied clouds and mists, while the deep and solemn temples, the thick and dull Lama trombones, the strong religious atmosphere, the broad and intensive folk customs - these kinds of wonderful, natural scenery and mysterious and ancient cultural landscapes are a profound cultural heritage symbolizing for humanity an eternal allure that is charming and mysterious. The Dao of Ink Landscapes and the later new compositions that permeate the cosmic consciousness have both advanced the refinement of depicting scenes of mountains and rivers that transcend a space-time continuum. These landscape paintings have images that not only appear to be ancient caves, but also some kind of unknown outer space where various types of mountainous forms interlock, extrude, and mutually overlap with round forms to create a multi-dimensional imagery that possesses strong symbolic significance. Just as Jizi himself has said: In my explorations of landscape painting, the landscapes in the paintings are not composed of mountains that one can see in the natural world with ones own eyes, nor are they reproductions of the imitated, decorated, and scenic natural mountains in other landscape paintings. Rather, the landscapes in my paintings are symbols that as much as possible signify art. I borrow these symbols to express a deep awareness of my primary ideas so that this deep awareness, by means of the objects in the paintings, can as much as possible overflow with intuitive understanding. Jizi has taken the state of mind where Heaven and humanity are one, a state of mind that exists in the traditional landscape creative process and, by means of intuitive comprehension, visually expressed this state of mind in the paintings, painting it as visual, aesthetic objects. These traces of the realm of the Dao give people a sense of the mysterious, the sublime, the tragic, and the sacred. The paintings great tension and broad realms give people a spiritual shock that seems to be a kind of transcendental purification of their souls.

  Down to a sunless sea,

  Partial Remodeling and Total Reconstruction

  The poem then describes the great gardens, with forests ancient as the hills, Enfolding sunny spot of greenery. But then, as if we were tracking the great underground river, running through caves, where rocks fly through the air - Huge fragments vaulted.

  Delineation, light ink strokes, rubbing, spotting, and staining are all basic brush and ink strokes and methods of artistic expression in traditional landscape painting. Some painters, based on their painting process, use these methods independently, while other painters apply them flexibly. As for displaying mountain rocks, most rocks have three tableaux: a rock is first delineated, then light ink strokes and staining are used to distinguish lightness and darkness. The brush strokes used for this were developed by painting different landscape topographies. Ultimately, the brush strokes become various types of stylized techniques. These stylized brush techniques have names such as: the axe swing stroke, the wrinkled stroke, the folded band stroke, the veins of the lotus leaf stroke, the horse teeth stroke, the dense dotting stroke, and so on. In fact, the artists used lines as units and either shortened the lines to dots or extended them for a tableau. These then became a collection of three different brush strokes: the line, the dot, and the tableau. Due to his unique way of creating images, Jizi, in connection with traditional landscape paintings display of snow and ice landscapes by using the brush to produce weak, pale spots, created unique brush techniques such as the coarse snow stroke, the split snow stroke, the wrap around snow stroke, the nest of snow stroke, and so on. These brush stroke techniques embodied the use of tableau as the basic creative unit; within the tableau, lines appear that are agile and use ink in interesting ways. These brush stroke techniques display the mottled changes in the textures of mountain rocks that are quite consistent with the modern aesthetic vision. The textual relationship among tableaux utilizes certain shading techniques that not only have a segmental sense of weight, but also coincide with the overlapping method brought about by the layered changes that traditional landscape painting used to display the shaded (yin) and lighted (yang) aspects of mountain rocks. The panoramic landscapes of the Northern Song not only emphasized having the painting show its essence when viewed close up, by which they meant pursuing a subtle view of local mountain rocks that embodies the physics involved, but they also emphasized having the painting show its power when viewed from afar, that is that the imposing manner of the whole painting radiate the timeless Dao of landscape painting. Jizi fully absorbed the Song landscape artists concepts of artistic rules and reasons. On the ample basis of partial remodeling, Jizi uses great architecture throughout his landscape paintings in which the real and the theoretical are equal, the dynamic and the static participate equally, and the clouds that completely cover the painting wander among the mountains. Jizi frequently employs the layered accumulation of ink technique that not only drips ink thickly, but can also be used to apply white carefully to maintain an outer appearance of the immeasurable traces of clouds and mists. Jizi has obviously learned from the approach to clouds in Western landscape painting, while at the same time, in order to enhance contrast, he has grasped the sense of rhythm and excitement of the whole panorama. Jizi also cleverly utilizes the role of light: the blackest and whitest physical images are juxtaposed for contrast, highlighting the visual tension.

  Jizis landscapes remind me of the wildness of Coleridges description of seething water, vast rocky domes, fragments of dislocated stone, dancing and crashing into the underground sea.

  In composition, traditional landscape painting stressed arrangement and management so that traditional landscape painting could give even more expression to, and derive more meaning from, a planar surface. Especially after the landscape paintings of the Northern and Southern Song Dynasties, however, the spatial sense gradually became faded and exhausted. The method of the three distances became even more independently applied, and one could no longer dwell or roam in the fascinating spaces of landscape painting. The lack of a visual sense could not of course shock a viewers inner mind. In his Dao of Ink Landscape Series, Jizi completely broke with the traditional stylized composition and advanced his restructuring of images to establish a deep and mysterious space that made people realize the reality of chaos and distress, and that led them into a holy land of the soul that is mysterious, distant, and profound. In order to expand the layout, broaden the scene, and comprehend the realm of the Dao, Jizi carried on the traditional scattered perspective method, which is also the foundation for a panorama, and created a perspective on space of four or more dimensions that he named the multi-dimensional perspective. He said: The universe is extremely deep and profound, and its time and space have no location, no direction. . . . As much as possible, I expand an artworks limits on the expression of forms, and give expression to the artworks unlimited spiritual sphere. At the same time, Jizi transformed the traditional relationship between the real and the false to counter the tradition of putting less emphasis on emptiness. He also mastered Western arts relationship between the real and the false, thereby greatly strengthening the tension in his artworks, and fusing the paintings black and white relationship and the optical effects, boldly utilizing a black color that traditional landscape painting called dead black, thereby reinforcing the paintings overall feeling of depth. At the same time, Jizi learned from factors used in plane surface composition such as apertures with mountain rocks overlapped and interspersed. His shading effects are as intangible as a time tunnel.

  I have to wonder whether this impression of dreams and fragments, rocks and waters, would survive, were I to see these works, or is this just an illusion due to electronic transmission, and the actual touch and brush of the paintings actually a convey a whole different world?

  A Solemn Sublimity, An Illusional Brilliance

  (Arthur C. Danto is famous American philosopher and critic of art, Emeritus Professor of Columbia University, his books After the End of Art and The Abuse of Beauty, etc. are acclaimed highly worldwide.)

  My paintings are not the kind of paintings that stop once they have reached the level of providing the viewer with a pleasant mood or some character cultivation (although they often include these). Nor do I require that viewers completely understand my paintings. Instead, I only require that the initial feelings that people viewing my paintings have, by means of a first intuition, cause them to reflect rationally on the paintings and, by means of this reflection, come to their own understanding. I believe that this type of understanding, no matter the point of view, enables them to relate to the deepest layers of my mind. I strive to create the power to shock, and to impact and cleanse the viewers soul. Jizi is extremely clear about the ultimate concerns and pursuits of his art. He sums up that a philosophical realm of poetry and the height of a realm of the humanist spirit are the profound philosophical thoughts that give his artworks a strong, spiritual penetrating power that moves peoples souls in an almost religious manner.

  Religion is a type of belief, and the greatest feature of religion is perhaps that it embodies a spirit of transcendence and purity. Jizi puts it well: The universal spirit of art is not religion, but it has a religious ethos. His Snow and Ice Landscapes depict a sacred atmosphere: the desolate, melancholy, snowy plateau; the solitary yak walking alone; the towering, quiet temple; a cows skull placed atop a rock for worship

  • all of these are concentrated expressions of misery and nobility, solemnity and dignity that resound and resonate with humanitys cultural life and natures spirit pointing to eternity. In Western painting, light symbolizes the power of God, and God Himself said: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Chinese traditional art discarded this mode of outward manifestation, returning instead to a calm and self-adapting inner mind that in paintings produce a definite relationship between light and dark that is most definitely not Western paintings depiction of outer light, but a much more subjective process. Western arts importance as a reference system in the 20th century, however, squeezed into and pressed against the development of Chinese art, and a good many Chinese artists began to utilize light as a form of artistic expression. For example, Huang Binhongs agile use of inner light, and Li Kerans sense of heavy backlighting provided a new broadening of traditional paintings morphological language. Jizis use of light has its own distinguishing features. One feature is his strategic use of shading when creating an image so that the shading increases the qualitative sense of partial segmentation, a use of light that we might call silhouetted light. Another feature springs from overall consideration of the paintings composition where, in the reconstruction of the images, light is used as a boundary for form, and to unify the rhythm and contrast of the entire painting surface, a use of light that we might call inner structure light. The greatest characteristic of these two modes of using light is an illusionary arrangement where a holy brightness radiates from every place.

  Confucius previously proposed this formula for self-cultivation: Set your will on the Dao; be in accord with virtue; depend on benevolence (ren); take pleasure in the arts. In Jizis works, not only does art give pleasure, but art is also the best choice for carrying the Dao, for transmitting the Dao, and for embodying benevolence (ren). Art, in other words, is Jizis whole life. The noble-minded person, like Heaven itself, continues to advance with a lofty fortitude. An energetic life has caused the art of Jizi, this benevolent (ren) person, to be free and boundless. The explosive force of his art will have lasting repercussions in the context of a long ago and remote Chinese art form, and especially in the overall pattern of the development of contemporary Chinese art. How Chinas traditional ink art should develop is an issue that presents a major cultural choice. Traditional art is most definitely not something that is fixed and unchanging, but how it should change and how to put the change into practice are difficult issues, and many artists have given a lifetime of effort to this issue of how best to change tradition. With regards to this issue, we can say that the creative artistic practices of Jizis paintings have provided us with a good case to research the transformations in contemporary Chinese ink art. Studying and viewing his art should provoke us to think deeply about Chinese art at this point in contemporary art history. That a great talent takes time to mature has always been a fascinating theme in the history of Chinese aesthetics.

  (The author is a research fellow at the National Art Museum of China.)

  Translated by E. F. Connelly, PhD

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