应形象物 ——关于张天幕的新作2014-2015

Depicting the Object according to the Form —On the New 2014–2015 Works by Zhang Tianmu


唐泽慧

 

对于熟悉天幕创作的人而言,她的近作展现了出人意料的新方向:她那标志性的梦幻一般的女孩隐匿不见了,原来在绘画中扮演辅助性角色的花草、鸟兽成为了画面的主角。近作依旧延续了之前超现实主义风格的画风和纸上坦培拉的技巧,然而,原来精心维系的那种甜美、单纯、小女孩的“绯色梦境”一般的气氛消散了,诡异、残缺和不安的感觉笼罩了画面。

 

这个系列的作品开始于2014年下半年。她最初从明末清初画家朱耷的绘画中受到启发。这是一个有些让人惊讶的选择。天幕之前的绘画给人的印象是“童话般的”,有时甚至会被归为“卡通”一派。而众所周知,朱耷的绘画以怪诞、奇谲著称。事实上,朱耷因为他的身世、时代遭遇和在诗文画作中所表现出沉痛、癫狂和孤洁,他已经成为中国文化史上的一个符号,成为中国士人某种人格理想的寄托。如果他还没有被神化的话,他至少是被传奇化了。

 

面对这样一个著名的文化偶像,天幕采取了一种别出心裁的注解方式。谢赫六法中讲,应物象形,而天幕却反其道而行之,应形象物。她将朱耷绘画的构图原封不动地搬上了自己的画面,为了准确起见,甚至使用了投影。原画的内容隐去了,呃剩下的只有轮廓,这个轮廓成为天幕创作的起点。天幕之前绘画的构图与其说是理性建构,不如说是有机生长的过程。她总是从一个细部起笔,从一个形象生长出另一个形象。而对这批绘画而言,构图是一开始就规定好了的。她根据这些轮廓填充物象,或许是一个花蕊,或许是一条蟒蛇,也或许是一头略具其形的大象。如果说“应物象形”属于“反映论”的范畴的话,那么天幕将这个过程逆转了,她的起点不再是现实世界中的具体的物,而是绘画史上的经典文本,是从一个文本中生长出的另一个文本。

 

 

我们可以说天幕的这组绘画是传统花鸟题材在当代的一种变异,而她所遵循的远非是传承有序的路径,而更像是一种偷袭:以出人意表的方式深入到传统的内部,并发动了一场小小的颠覆,使作品的气息为之一变。她敏锐的捕捉到原作中“鱼鸟互化”、“鸭石一体”的“善化”特点,而在她的作品中却变成叶子的边缘长出爪子,巨蟒的口中开出花朵。 如果说原作所传达的是一种“庄周晓梦迷蝴蝶”的哲学冥想,而天幕的画面却令人联想到现代生物科技背景之下人们对生命本身的焦虑和不安。

 

我注六经,六经亦注我。当天幕以这种方式解构朱耷的绘画时,她自己绘画的气质也在悄然发生变化。这便带来了我们在文章开头所提到的那些显而易见的区别。

 

作为艺术家,天幕的经历有些特殊,虽然早年接受了专业的绘画训练,但毕业后相当长一段时间她并没有选择绘画作为自己的职业,直到几近不惑之年,她才重新拿起画笔,开始了自己作为职业艺术家的生涯。如同小说家的第一本书常常是自传性质的,艺术家最初的创作也往往首先是一种自我的抒写和满足。在天幕较早的作品中,占据画面主体的是一个带有明显自画像性质的,甜美,单纯,又有些不知所措的女孩形象,她仿佛身处彼得潘的精灵世界中,被拟人化的花草、小兽和小鸟包围。这与其说是自我的写照,不如说是一种多少有些奇异的补偿心理。据艺术家自述,她少年时很早就开始阅读成人的书籍,而且多是西方的文学名著,那时对于“童话”不屑一顾,以为不过是些小玩意儿,无关人类命运的宏旨。而随着年龄渐长反倒对这种“单纯”生出一种宽容甚至是依赖,她用画笔在纸上给自己建了一个避难所,以求从沉重的现实中游离片刻。

 

随着创作的深入,艺术家逐渐从对自我的直接关注中超脱出来,转而寻求一种更宽广的叙述的纬度,表现在天幕画面中便是作为自我投射的女孩形象所占的比例逐步缩小,并不断地引入新的题材和方法。如同哈维尔在《第二口气》中描述地那样:“从自身小小的传统、公众期待以及已经建立的自身地位中解放出来,去尝试一种新的和更为成熟的自我界定,与他现在的并且是更为确凿的世界经验相一致”。某种意义上,朱耷的绘画正提供了这样一个出口,在现实与梦幻之间搭建了一个文本的桥梁,可以部分的收纳她之前的绘画范式中所无法表达的情绪和经验,并由此形成一种更为成熟和复杂的自我界定。

 

20155


by Tang Zehui

 

For those familiar with Zhang Tianmu’s creative output, her recent works have displayed a surprising and unexpected direction: those dreamy, symbolic girls of hers are no longer visible, while the grass, flowers, birds and beasts which originally played supplementary roles in her paintings have become the main characters. The recent works continued to extend her previous surrealist painting style and tempera techniques on paper. However, the original meticulously maintained sweet and pleasant atmosphere—that of a girly “scarlet dreamscape”—has dissipated, while the sense of the eerie, deficient, and uncertain shroud the picture plane.

 

This series of works began in the latter half of 2014. She was originally inspired by the paintings of Zhu Da, a painter from the late Ming and early Qing. This is somewhat of an astonishing choice. Tianmu’s previous paintings gave the impression of a “fable”, sometimes even being included in the “Cartoon” group. And as we all know, Zhu Da’s paintings are known for being bizarre and treacherous. In fact, because of his life experiences, the trials of the times, and the pain, dementia, and aloofness expressed in his poems, calligraphy, and paintings, Zhu Da had already become a symbol in Chinese cultural history, a certain idealized personality type among the Chinese literati. If he has not been deified or sainted, he has at least been made into a legend.

 

Faced with such a renowned cultural icon, Tianmu took an original tack in interpretation. Xie He’s “Six Principle of Painting” talks about “depicting the form according to the object” [ying wu xiang xing 应物象形] but Tianmu turned this around and argued for “depicting the object according to the form” [ying xing xiang wu 应形象物]. She transferred Zhu Da’s composition in painting completely faithfully into her painting; for the sake of accuracy, she even used projections. The content of the original painting has become hidden, leaving behind only the contours, which became the point of departure of Tianmu’s creation. Rather than saying that Tianmu’s previous painting compositions were rational constructions, it might be better to say that they possessed an organic process of growth. She has always started picking up from a detailed part, from one likeness bearing forth another likeness. In terms of these paintings, the composition was laid out right from the start. Based on these contours, she filled in the objects; it could be a petal of a flower, or it could be a python, or it could be a relatively formed elephant. If one argues that “depiction of form according to the object” belongs within the category of “theories of reflection”, then Tianmu has inverted this process. Her point of departure lies no longer with the actual objects in the real world but classic texts from the history of painting, from one text bearing forth another text. 

 

We can say that this group of paintings by Tianmu is a contemporary transformation of the traditional themes of “birds and flowers”, while what she has adhered to is far from an orderly traditional path but rather more of an appropriation—probing completely unexpectedly deep within tradition, sparking a small subversion which changes the character of the work. She has keenly grasped the particularities of the “instructive” points in the “mutual transformation of fish and birds” [yu niao hu hua 鱼鸟互化] and “ducks and rocks as one” [ya shi yi ti 鸭石一体] in the original works, yet in her own pieces, these have become claws growing out of the edges of leaves, or flowers blooming in the mouths of giant serpents. If the original work is said to express the philosophical meditation of “Zhuang Zhou wakes up from a dream, having dreamt of being a butterfly” [and not sure whether he was Zhuang Zhou or a butterfly], then Tianmu’s paintings remind us of our anxieties and insecurities about life itself within the context of modern biological technology.

 

I annotate the “Six Classics”; the “Six Classics” also inscribe me. When Tianmu deconstructs Zhu Da’s paintings thus, the qualities of her own paintings subtly undergo changes, too. This brings about those differences, obviously seen, which we had mentioned at the beginning of this piece.

 

As an artist, Tianmu’s experiences are somewhat particular. Though she gained professional training in painting in her early years, for a fairly long period of time after graduation she had not chosen painting as her profession. Only on the verge of her “years without doubt” [i.e. her forties] did she once again pick up the brush and began her career as a professional artist. Just as a novelist’s first book is frequently autobiographical in nature, an artist’s early works are often first and foremost about expressing and satisfying the self. In Tianmu’s earlier works, the core of the picture plane was clearly a self-portrayal, a sweet, innocent image of a girl who is also at somewhat of a loss. She appeared to be located in a Peter Pan world of fairies, surrounded by anthropomorphized flowers and grasses, diminutive animals and birds. Instead of calling this a self-portrait, there is more or less something of an odd psychological compensation. According to the artist’s own narrative, she had begun reading adult books very early on in her youth, particularly many literary classics from the West. She cared not for “fairy tales”, believing them to be insignificant trifles unrelated to the grand themes of human destiny. With age, she gradually ended up developing a tolerance or even dependence on such “innocence”. With brush and paper, she has built a shelter for herself, in search of drifting momentarily from a grave reality. 

 

With a deepening creative practice, the artist has gradually broken out of a direct concern of the self, shifting to a search for broader latitudes in her narrative. Expressed in Tianmu’s pictures are the gradual, proportionate shrinkage of the image of the girl—a projection of the self—and the gradual introduction of new themes and techniques. Just as Havel described in “Second Wind”: “liberate himself from what binds him to his own tradition, to public expectation and to his own established position, and try for a new and more mature self-definition, one that corresponds to his present and authentic experience of the world.” (Translated by Paul Wilson, in Open Letters: Selected Writings 1965–1990, New York: Vintage, 1992). In a certain sense, Zhu Da’s paintings provides for such an exit, building a textual bridge between reality and dreamscapes—able to partly incorporate emotions and experiences inexpressible in her previous modes of painting, and from there on, forge an even more mature and complex definition of the self.

 

                                                 

May 2015