见微知著—蔡锦的格物绘画 高名潞

Parts Reflecting the Whole —The Narrative Art of Cai Jin Gao Minglu


阅读蔡锦的作品实际上是在阅读蔡锦这个人。


我与蔡锦接触不少,但是很少听她夸夸其谈。她寥寥数语的谈话和笔记大多讲她对枯萎的美人蕉、对家乡老屋的窗格子、对水痕及红色腥气的感觉。这种感觉有一种无法捕捉的诡秘。


凡有生命的东西,必定诡秘。诡秘在于我们无法从表面现象去把握它们的内在实质,或者说,所谓的本质总是处在转化之中。比如生与死。蔡锦恰恰在美人蕉的死寂中看到了生命的血液在流淌。生是偶然的,所以,“生”把活力放在了表面之上,而死是必然的,所以,“死”把永恒隐藏在黑暗的深处。雨水逝去,才留下了永久的屋痕。所以,古人把书法运笔的高境界叫做“屋漏痕”。


蔡锦的画就像“屋漏痕”,她极力捕捉那种诡秘,以至于对五光十色的诱人现实毫无兴趣。她把精力倾注在那些不为人们关注的、但是能够让她激动的孤寂无助的题材之中。在蔡锦的形象中,腐烂是活物的载体,血腥是姣美的纤维。成与毁、生与死、大与小永远是处于转化、互相依存之中。


蔡锦笔下的人体、水果、小提琴和美人蕉,在我看来,是用画笔在“格物”,格物就是“平等待物”,与物对话。庄子的“齐物”和宋人的“格物”其实都是一个道理,要想了解万物,必须平等待物,走进万物。现代社会中,艺术已经变成人类中心论和实用论的代言。在很多人眼里,物只是载体,它们被动地表达人的精神意念。说好听叫“象征”,象征其实是对物的贬低和对人的赞美。但是,蔡锦不这样认为。蔡锦把她对水、树、屋、花的那种惺惺相惜的感觉,一笔笔倾注到画面之中。她沉浸在“一种神经牵引着,好像完成一张作业(的状态)之中”。


蔡锦作品的意义,就在于这种见微知著。“天下莫大于秋毫之末,而泰山为小”。题材的不足道,恰恰折射了深刻的人性以及任何生命意义的外延。齐物和格物,其实最终仍然是艺术家自我的修行之道。就像蔡锦所说,她并不认为自己在做着什么了不起的事,只是像在绣花或者编织一件毛衣。有人把它看做中国女性艺术家的特质,虽然不无道理,但是我更倾向于把它看做人性中类似“极多主义”那样的日常境界。蔡锦作画的过程也“始于微”,从一个细节自然延展,任其自然。而不是先构思布局,做好大框架,而后填充局部。见微知著的哲学就是日常的哲学,佛家叫“事事无碍”。有了语言的“事事无碍”也就有了作品的“意在言外”。


蔡锦二十多年“无心插柳”的绘画实践却带给我们丰富的语义联想。恐怖的红色让我们想到了疯狂的红色年代;纠缠不休的形色让我们联想到心理自虐或者性的纠结;布满画面的肉红加上玫瑰底色的条样体积让人们联想到发霉的腐物,可能隐喻某些当下社会和人性问题。如此,不一而足。所有这些都说明了蔡锦艺术语言的单纯性反而产生出无限的多义性。我阅读了过去二十多年所发表的有关蔡锦艺术的诸多评论,尽管每个人的评论角度和风格不一样,有的概括艺术历程,有的只是细腻地分析某种创作心理,但这每一篇评论都认真地娓娓道来,非常精彩,且令人信服。众多重要批评家评论一位艺术家,且都能这样细腻到位,在中国当代艺术家中实不多见。反倒是蔡锦自己,显得孤陋寡言。这种生产者和接受者之间的话语反差,反倒衬托了蔡锦艺术语言的魅力所在。


蔡锦是中国女性艺术家的杰出代表。然而蔡锦的艺术魅力以及它带给我们的启示已经超越了中国女性艺术或者女性艺术的分类。更重要的是,在岁月流逝中,蔡锦已经不经意地把自己、艺术、教学和生活融为一体。蔡锦是独立、真诚、低调和愿意无私奉献的艺术家。她的教学热情在天津美院以及中国艺术界中被广为称赞。蔡锦真诚地做她自己,唯其尊重自己,她的艺术才是真诚的,也才能最终修成当代艺术的正果。

2012.5


Cai Jin's art works is in fact the reflection of herself.I know Cai Jin well and never hear her boasting. Her concise statements and notes mostly tell us her feelings to the withered banana tree, the window lattice of the old house in hometown, the water traces and the bloody red. Such feelings are so weird that they can hardly be captured.


Life itself is weird, for we could not grasp the substance of life from the surface appearances. In other words, the so-called substance is always changing, such as life and death. Cai Jin sees the flow of vital blood from the withered banana. Life is transient and it puts the vital on the surface. Death is inevitable and it hides the eternal into the deep darkness. Water leaves traces after raining. The supreme handling of calligraphy was named Water Traces on the Wall by ancient people.


The artworks of Cai Jin are just like the Water Traces on the Wall. She tries to capture the weirdness, and shows no interest in the colorful attractive reality. She devotes herself to the loneliness subject that makes her excited but calls no attention of others. In the artworks of Cai Jin, decomposition is a carrier of life and bloodiness represents beauty. Success and failure, death and life, large and small are always transformed to and depended on each other.


In my opinion, Cai Jin uses the brush to “Ge Wu” and creates the body, fruit, violin, and banana tree in her artworks. Ge Wu means the equally treating of every things and communicating with them. The “Qi Wu” of Chuang Tse and “Ge Wu” of people in Song Dynasty have the same meaning, that is, if we want to know the things we must treat them equally and incorporate us with them. In modern society, art becomes the symbol of anthropocentrism and human practical theory. To most people, things are only carriers, and they passively express the spirit of human. In other words, things are symbols. Symbolization actually despises things and praises human. But Cai Jin doesn’t think in that way. She pours her feelings of intimate bond with water, tree, house, and flower into her artworks. She is immersed in a state of finishing a school work under the control of nerves.


The significance of Cai Jin’s artworks is in their recognizing the macro through a micro. There is nothing under the canopy of heaven greater than the tip of a bird’s down in autumn, while the Tai Mountain is small. The insignificant subject precisely reflects the profound human nature and the extension of any life. In fact, “Qi Wu” and “Ge Wu” are the ways of artists’ self-cultivating. Cai Jin doesn’t think what she created is not something great. She thinks she creates art just like embroidering or knitting a sweater. There are some reasons that some people regard it as the specific character of Chinese female artists, but I prefer to regard it as ordinary human nature, like what it is in Maximalism, one of the major trends of 1990s' Chinese contemporary art. The process of Cai Jin’s creation starts from the micro, and extends naturally from a detail. She does not design the layout and structure in advance and then fulfills the detail part. The philosophy of recognizing the macro through a micro is just the philosophy of ordinary, which is also called Everything Going with No Obstacle in Buddhism. The philosophy of everything going with no obstacle in language makes the artworks have a meaning beyond the canvas.


However, Cai Jin’s unintended practice in art for more than twenty years provides us rich semantic associations. The horrific red recalls us to the crazy Red Revolutionary Times, the Cultural Revolution. Tangled colors and shapes make us associate psychological self-sadism or sexual struggle. Bloody red flooding on the canvas and the bar-like bulk with the bottom color of rose let us think of the moldy things, which might be a metaphor for the problems in current society and human nature. There are numerous such things in her artworks. All of these explain that the simplicity in her art language can produce infinite meanings. I read various artistic reviews on Cai Jin’s artworks written in the past twenty years. Although each critic has different perspectives and styles, some summarize the artistic course and some make delicate analysis on creation psychology, each review was seriously written, very wonderful and convincing. But Cai Jin herself has little word about her. The words difference between the producer and receiver illustrates the fascination of Cai Jin’s artistic language.


Cai Jin is one of the most outstanding female artists in China. The artistic charm and the inspiration she brings to us transcend the classification of Chinese female art or female arts. More importantly, in the past years, Cai Jin inadvertently integrates herself with art, teaching and life. Cai Jin is an independent and selfless artist with sincerity and low profile. Her enthusiasm in teaching is praised in Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts and Chinese artistic society. Cai Jin is just herself, a sincere artist. It is just the respect of the honesty of herself that makes her artworks sincere and lets her grasp the real spirit of contemporary art.

2012.5