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邱志杰:植物的胜利姗姗来迟 读罗颖的花草世界

2018-07-06 21:45:10 来源: 雅昌艺术网
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摘要: 罗颖:叠山纪 艺术家出席酒会:2018年7月12日(周四)下午6至8时 展期:2018年7月12日至8月25日 汉雅轩:香港中环毕打街十二号毕打行四零一室 罗颖的世界寂静无人,这个世界莺飞草长,杂树生花,芙蓉出水,椿萱并茂。这个世界有桃之夭夭,有沅茝澧兰,有竹苞松茂,有棠棣之华,蕉鹿之梦,蓼莪之思…

罗颖:叠山纪
艺术家出席酒会:2018年7月12日(周四)下午6至8时
展期:2018年7月12日 至8月25日
汉雅轩:香港 中环 毕打街十二号 毕打行四零一室

  罗颖的世界寂静无人,这个世界莺飞草长,杂树生花,芙蓉出水,椿萱并茂。这个世界有桃之夭夭,有沅茝澧兰,有竹苞松茂,有棠棣之华,蕉鹿之梦,蓼莪之思,葑菲之采。这里萍飘蓬转,一苇可航,纯鲈千里。

  这些植物在一个民族的灵魂里盘根错节、瓜葛相连已经数千年。在中国艺术里,植物从来都是象征的喻体,凝视的对象,安身立命的倚靠。从甲骨文开始,「艺」字就是跪着的人手捧着植物,。到了石鼓文中,这株植物已经被植在土里,那一整个民族正在一旁蹲跪着培土。即使到了简体字的「艺」字,这跪着的腿脚依然清晰可见,头上那株植物依然生生不息。再没有一个民族对植物这样地充溢着由心而发的膜拜和感恩。以至于数千年来,所有声称只有植物是自己的知己的人们,其实形成了一个孤独者的共同体。也像植物一样,中国的艺术传承,从来都不是披荆斩棘式的砍伐和摧折,从来都是默默地耐心地养成。在写遍芭蕉之后,菊老荷枯之时,一再地,枯木逢春,柳暗花明,茅塞顿开。

  中国人住在植物构造而成的建筑中,他们从来不相信坚固的不朽,他们更相信不息的力量,这种力量正来自植物的启示。不朽的太行王屋,在不息的愚公家族面前轰然崩塌。每当玉石俱焚之时,斧柯交加之厄,植物们偃服,飘零,承受践踏,心怀等待。风过之后,植物总会重新挺立,重新繁茂。帝王将相的陵墓,迟早终将成为植物的沃土。植物的胜利,总是姗姗来迟。

  因此,传统中国人——传统中国画所构造的植物世界中,充满了人格清高的物种,充满了蒹葭秋水的无奈和黍离麦秀的伤感,充满了苜蓿生涯的清冷和采薇者的绝望。每每在桑榆暮景中,捡拾着老辣的姜桂之性。宋元以来的中国画中古木寒林的传统,已经成为一个标准句式。不向往隐遁的生活,不足于称名士高士。在这样一个世界中,不孤独的人和不枯萎的树都是可耻的。苦涩、淡漠、清冷的世界才是有德者的居所。这古木寒林的画面,及其连带的一整套趣味,慢慢地成为一句套话,就像厨师考级时必考的鱼香肉丝,成为雅士的身份证。今天的中国画家,在落地玻璃窗内,打开空调,用高级音响播放一曲古琴,呷一口波尔多的红酒,然后,谁的笔下没有几笔自古以来的苦寒和萧瑟,满纸的落寞与厌世。

  罗颖的植物世界却不是这样一个有几分强装的苦寒。她的植物世界生机勃勃,有如《天演论》中的天造草昧,是「怒生之草,交加之藤,势如争长相雄。各据一抔壤土。夏与畏日争,冬与严霜争……憔悴孤虚,旋生旋灭。菀枯顷刻,莫可究详。是离离者亦各尽天能,以自存种族而已」。物种在这里方生方死,此起彼伏。然而罗颖的世界却又不是西方式的弱肉强食的生存竞争的战场。这里夏花烂漫,秋叶静美,一切都在时序和地理的秩序中。

  所以这个世界当然又决不是《天演论》中的天造草昧,这个世界已经到处都是人的痕迹:一片地砖,一排栏杆,几把椅子,甚至于一角门巷,数段台阶,一把空空的躺椅。它们甚至不是中国传统园林中那些用来让官场失意者长吁短叹或让得意者假装向往山林的道具,这是一些西式的户外家具。铁栏杆和椅子都带着新艺术运动以来的铁艺风格,甚至有西式的建筑回廊和花盆,甚至有路灯和遮阳伞——这些道具我们在杜飞和马蒂斯时代的欧洲画面里看到过,那是一个人类充满自信地自以为征服了自然之后的时代,对于机器的反省就要展开。这些器物,曾经是中产阶级和享乐主义的符号。

  解析至此,我们几乎要把罗颖定义为一个都市生活画家或现代园林画家了:她的用色和用墨——粉红和嫩绿在淡墨中的交错斑斓;她用没骨和兼工带写的画法规避了传统中国画中骨法用笔苍老用笔的律令,驱尽了残破和苦寒趣味;所有的这些细节,似乎都倾向于把我们推向一个享乐主义的印象,这样一个解释就能让我们安分了。

  但是且慢,整个画面告诉我们的却又全然不是这些。有一种传统中国的气质正弥散在这个世界的每个角落。它不是中国隐士的山林,它就在我们这座城市的秩序中潜伏,带来一种不安。对了,就是这些植物,这些植物从来没有甘心地接受园艺工人的修剪,它们只是一个漫长传统派来潜伏在我们这个当代的卧底。甚至于当它们默默地和路灯为伍,把树影落在夜静无人的街头时,它们也从来没有忘怀自己在《诗经》和《楚辞》中的身份,它们从来没有放弃象征的地位。它们用风和月光作为暗号,随时准备和城市周边山野里的植物大军里应外合,把这座城市变成植物的乐园。

  在罗颖的世界中,植物是一些耐心的等待者,它们总是包围着无人的都市一角,旁逸斜出,枝柯交错,随时准备蔓延。为什么无人,因为这些植物就有人格。这些植物没有准备把自己安放在空调玻璃房里的古木寒林博物馆里,它们不安分,它们随时准备在城市里遭遇摧折。这不是那种习惯化的表演着厌世和无奈的植物,这是一些担当着命运的植物。这是传统中国在一个弱肉强食的现代世界中的命运。每次我想起中国农村的臭,都感动得想哭。中国农村的粪坑,不是中国人蠢得不会设计下水道把粪便排放出去,而是这些粪便都是宝贝,是用来让土壤保持肥力,让资源循环。我小时候看家乡的人在两季禾苗早稻和晚稻中间,在田里种豆和紫云英,也就是张骞从西域带回来的紫花苜蓿,后来读书才明白,豆根豆叶和紫云英,都是最好的肥田的材料。几千年的农耕,中国有限的耕地,土壤的营养没有耗尽,养育了这么多人口,靠的就是这种生活方式,这种生活方式,就是植物的方式。植物拜托蜜蜂和蝴蝶传递情书,一定供奉出食物。这是一种谦卑和礼貌的生活。相比之下,动物都是掠食者。

  中国人都是植物性的。

  因此我们理解了罗颖的植物世界中的不安和活力,这是一场生活风格的争斗。这是这座尘世中还能容下多少传统中国人的统计学。这里蓬荜生辉,这里兰艾难分,这里,草木皆兵。

  二零一五年九月十三日

The Slow Victory of Plants:On Luo Ying’s World of Flora

Qiu Zhijie

  Quiescent and devoid of human presence, Luo Ying’s world is populated instead by orioles in flight, and a spectrum of trees and flowers: lotus rising from ponds, bamboo and pines, rose apples and cherry blossoms, all lush and flourishing. This is a land of peach blossoms, of angelica and orchids, a place where dreams of marvels and memories of past loves might flourish, where a rare deer might appear, or a simple plant reveals healing powers. Here duckweed floats untethered to the water’s surface, as rafts of reeds travel across the watery expanse, and perch swim freely for miles.

  Over thousands of years, the roots of such plants have become deeply entwined in the souls of Chinese people. In Chinese art, trees and plants function as symbols and metaphor, they are objects on which we fix our gaze, and anchors that help us to ground our lives. In its earliest appearance in ancient oracle bone inscriptions, the character for art (yi) was represented by a running man carrying a plant in his hands. In later seal script, this plant now appeared implanted in the ground while the entire people kneels by its side, cultivating the earth. In the modern simplified character for art (艺) we can still clearly identify the kneeling leg and foot, while the plant, now at the top of the character, has multiplied. There are no other people so filled with a sense of worship and gratitude towards plants as the Chinese. For thousands of years it has been said that trees and plants alone can understand and reflect our true selves; in fact, the plant world has become a kind of community for the solitary and the lonely. Just as with plants themselves, the legacy of Chinese art is not characterized by slashing and uprooting, but rather by quiet and patient cultivation.

  Using plants as material in building architectural structures, the Chinese people never placed their faith in the indestructability of the hard and the firm; rather they believed in the power of sustained endurance, and this is a power that plants have revealed to us. The supposedly indestructible palace of King Taihang fell to the ground in the face of the enduring strength of the Foolish Old Man and his descendants. In the face of a cataclysm, plants yield to the destruction of the axe, to the inevitability of falling and withering, and yet in their hearts they are waiting. When the storm passes, plants regenerate and bloom again. The tomb of a monarch eventually becomes a fertile ground where plants grow and flourish. The victory of plants is slow, and relentless.

  And thus, the world of plants that traditional Chinese people—that traditional Chinese art have/has constructed, is replete with species imbued with characteristics that are valued and respected: the noble resignation of reeds in an autumn lake, the melancholy of harvested fields of millet and wheat, the cold harsh endurance of the alfalfa, and the hopelessness of the gathered thorn-ferns.[ Note: Many of Qiu Zhijie’s references to the emotional qualities associated with plants are paraphrases or direct quotations from Chinese classical texts, where a particular plant plays an emotive role in particular scenario. For example, the reference to the hopelessness of the gathered thorn-ferns is from the poem ‘Cai Wei’ (‘Gathering Thorn-Ferns’) in the Xiaoya section of the ancient text Book of Songs (Shijing). In this poem, soldiers fighting on the battlefield far from their homes long for their families while gathering thorn-ferns. Thus an allusion to ‘gathering thorn ferns’ indicates a separation from and deep longing for home. Many such quotations from classical texts have become sayings with which the majority of Chinese are familiar.-Trans.] The mulberry trees glow in the setting sun, and the spiciness of ginger increases with age. In Song and Yuan paintings there is a tradition of depicting ancient trees in winter forests: this is an image that has long become encapsulated in our lexicon. Only those who aspire to the life of an anonymous recluse may earn respect as a noble scholar. In this kind of world, both the person who does not suffer from loneliness and the tree that is not old and withered are ignominious. It is taken for granted that only the moral person can find comfort and make his dwelling in such bitter, indifferent and frigid conditions. These paintings of withered trees and wintry forests represent a cultural sensibility, and have gradually become a touchstone of our language; they have become the trademark of the moral scholar in the same way that the humble dish of Yuxiang shredded pork becomes the test that distinguishes a master chef.

  Chinese painters today lounge behind their floor to ceiling windows, turn on their air conditioners, play recordings of ancient guqin music on their expensive stereo systems, and open bottles of fancy Bordeaux wine; and yet, which of them does not attempt to insert into their work some of those qualities of bitter, wintry desolation, of loneliness and world-weariness, that permeate those ancient paintings?

  Luo Ying’s world of plants is not of the kind characterized by an enforced condition of bitter cold and desolation. To the contrary, her world is full of vitality and life-force, like the first plants formed on Earth, as the biologist Thomas Huxley described in his essay Evolution and Ethics:

  The native grasses and weeds, the scattered patches of gorse, contended with one another for the scanty patches of surface soil; they fought against the droughts of summer, the frosts of winter…. One year with another, an average population, the floating balance of the unceasing struggle for existence among the indigenous plants, maintained itself.[ Quoted from Thomas H. Huxley, ‘Prologemena’, in Evolution and Ethics, (New York: 1896), pp. 1-2. ]

  Here different species of plants are engaged in a constant life and death struggle. But Luo Ying’s world is not characterized by the typically western narrative of a battleground where the strong devour the weak and the law of the jungle prevails: rather, her summer plants are always lush and blooming, and her autumn leaves glow with a quiet beauty, each following in perfect order the seasons of the Earth.

  Her world does not belong to the primordial plant world described in Evolution and Ethics, because her world is full of the traces of human existence: tiled floors, garden railings, a cluster of chairs, even gates and stairways, or an empty couch. Yet it is also not the world of the traditional Chinese scholar’s garden, where the frustrated court official could vent his woes, or where the rich and complacent could retire and enjoy the elegant props that allowed them to imagine themselves as roaming through a wilderness of mountains and forests. To the contrary, in Luo Ying’s world we actually find western-style outdoor furniture. The metal railings and chairs have a flavor of Art Nouveau, and even the architecture of the walkways and the style of the flower vases have a distinctly western flavor, complete with street lights and sun umbrellas—these are the kinds of accouterments we would expect to see in modern European art, in the paintings of a Duffy or a Matisse. These are the symbols of an era in which civilization was confident in its belief that it had conquered Nature, when the critique of the machine age was yet about to unfold. These objects are past symbols of the bourgeois and hedonistic lifestyle.

  Coming to this point in our analysis, it appears we are on the verge of labeling Luo Ying as either a painter of urban life, or as a painter of contemporary gardens: her use of colour and of ink—the gorgeous effects of the pale pinks and soft greens juxtaposed with or melting into the light ink wash, and the way she integrates the boneless style of painting with calligraphic line—goes against traditional stylistic conventions of brushwork and is completely devoid of the spirit of sparseness and bitter wintry desolation of past masters. All of these details conspire to create an association in our minds with a kind of hedonistic spirit, a judgment which would at least make us feel comfortable that we know what we are dealing with here.

  And yet, let’s not be too hasty: moving beyond the details to the overall composition, we find that it is telling us a very different story. Every inch of the composition is infused with a certain traditional Chinese sensibility. These are not the mountains and woodlands of a Chinese scholar-recluse; these are realms hidden within the structure of our city, and they bring with them a sense of unease. Of course, it is the plants—these are not the plants so carefully tended by the gardeners of the scholar-gentleman, they are infiltrators that were long hidden under the long cloak of traditional painting schools and have found their way into our contemporary world. Even now, when they silently appear alongside the streetlights, and the shadows of trees fall on quiet, empty streets, they have yet not forgotten that they once were celebrated in the ancient Book of Songs and Songs of Chu; and they have never abandoned their stature as symbols. They use wind and moonlight as secret codes, and are ready at any time to join together with the army of wild plants growing in the mountain fields on the outskirts of the city, poised to turn this city into a pleasure ground for plants.

  In Luo Ying’s world, plants are paragons of patience, experts of waiting; they gather around empty corners of the city where people don’t go, growing higgledy-piggledy all over the place and ever ready to expand their territory. Why are there no people? Because these plants have taken on a human personality. They are not interested in invading the air-conditioned, glass window-protected space of some museum for literati art. They are agitated, because they are always prepared for the worst, to be cut down or uprooted here in the city. These are not the kind of plants accustomed to playing at world-weariness and resignation, these are plants prepared to face their destinies head on. This is the same destiny of traditional Chinese culture in a modern world where the law of the jungle prevails.

  Whenever I think of the stench of Chinese farming villages, I feel so moved I want to weep. The reason for the continued use of foul-smelling cesspool pits in rural villages is not because Chinese people are too stupid to design underground sewer systems, it’s because the night soil in these pits is a valuable treasure, used to fertilize the soil to maintain its vitality. When I was a little boy I used to watch the people in my native village plant beans and astralagus in the period between seeding the early rice and harvesting the late rice; they looked like the purple alfalfa flowers that the ancient explorer Zhang Qian brought back from the Western Regions. Later, when I did some studying, I realized that both the stems and leaves of the bean plant and of the astralagus are the best material for fertilizing the fields. After thousands of years of farming, the nourishment of the soil in China’s limited farmland has not yet been exhausted: this soil still feeds such a huge population, which is reliant on just that way of life; and this way of life is the life of plants. Plants rely on the bees and the butterflies to transmit their love letters to each other, and then offer up their food to us.

  The nature of Chinese people is the nature of plants.

  And so we can empathize with both the unease and the vitality of Luo Ying’s world of plants. This is a struggle for a way of life. This is a statistical study of just how much tolerance there is for traditional Chinese people in this mundane world. This is where a light shines on the humblest thatched dwelling. This is where one cannot always distinguish the orchids from the wormwood. This is where every tree and bush conceals a warrior.

  September 13, 2015

  (Translation by Valerie C. Doran)

  Qiu Zhijie is an artist and curator, and Dean and Professor of the School of Experimental Art at the Central Academy of Fine Arts.

(责任编辑:邹萍)

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