摘要：序一 昔人写西湖之美，东坡诗固脍炙人口，堪称绝唱。袁中郎写六桥春色，述及断桥至苏堤一带，绿烟红雾，弥漫二十余里，歌吹为风，粉落为雨，罗纨之盛，多于堤畔之草。艳冶极矣。至若张宗子写七月半曦明之景，于月色苍凉之际，纵舟酣睡于十里荷花之中，香气拘人，清梦甚惬。亦足发人遐想。 求之于画，或绘山容水意，窈窕通…
Among ancient writings eulogizing the beauties of West Lake in Hangzhou, the poems of Su Dongpo are especially esteemed and have been ranked as masterpieces throughout the ages. Describing spring on the Six Bridges, Yuan Hongdao depicts the view from the Broken Bridge to the Su Embankment thus: “Green smoke and red fog spread out over some twenty li; Fluting songs are like wind, falling pollen, like rain; Fine silk fabrics are more common than the grasses covering the dykes.” What a beautiful description it is! In the Qing Dynasty, the famous writer Zhang Dai portrays himself asleep and dreaming sweetly of floating in a boat over ten li of lotus, savoring dawn and a pale July moon, tasting the lotus’ fragrance. Reading his verse, readers fall into reverie.
As for paintings depicting West Lake scenery, most delineate its colorful features, perhaps a view of willow branches in the wind, or flowers blooming everywhere on the causeway and reflected in waves. These facets of the view captured the artists’ sensual awareness. Few took time to meditate on the scenery’s grace, or harmonize their souls with the inner essence of their surroundings. That may explain why many paintings that depict ordinary scenes may be regarded as great works, while painstaking works can be said to have only superficial resemblance to the West Lake. In this sense, the West Lake needs a truly understanding admirer.
Mr. Yan Shanchun cherishes the poetry of Tao Yuanming and holds dear its compelling peacefulness. In his paintings, the views of West Lake are indistinct, remote and abstract; they embody the quietude of the scene. For the spectator, Yan’s restrained use of ink-wash recalls impressions of an autumn lake, an evening mist, sky blue snow, or the first light of an autumn sun over the lake’s surface. The grand simplicity of Yan’s art corresponds to the artistic ideal of Gong Zizhen who declared that “the real beauty of a maid or a mountain can never be fully appreciated because of its mysterious serenity.” It is not easy to classify Yan’s art as either figurative or not figurative, but I cannot help thinking that his art has reached with ease a state of supreme serenity.
Each time I have visited Shenzhen, I have sought the opportunity to enjoy his paintings. Fascinated by his art, I often felt how masterly are his painting skills and how his art achieves grandeur in its calmness. Others do not easily have the opportunity to share my enjoyment.
These thoughts welled up in my mind as I was taking a stroll along the West Lake; and the parallels between its exquisite scenery and Shanchun’s paintings inspired me to write them down. It is the time of water lotus’ blooming in the lake, and I have smelled their fragrance.
(Su Dongpo [1037-1101]; Yuan Hongdao [1568-1610]; Zhang Dai [1597-1679]; Tao Yuanming [ca.365-427]; Gong Zizhen [1792-1841]. Trans.)
Western abstract art has developed in two main directions: we might call one direction ‘warm abstraction’; it lays particular emphasis on direct emotional expression in a lyrical, fluid and intuitive way. The other direction, ‘cool abstraction’, aims at creating geometrically ordered and balanced compositions that express universal harmony. Kandinsky and Mondrian, both pioneers of abstract painting, each painted with a different purpose. Kandinsky aspired to evoke a spiritual experience, a deeply intimate connection between the artist and the viewer. Abstract expressionists championed his artistic notion and celebrated spontaneity and the exploration of the self in their paintings. Mondrian, on the other hand, sought to express rational thought – those pure relationships which manifest the immutable unity of reality. The Conceptual Art movement was heavily indebted to his concepts of universal truth. In spite of their differences, abstract artists in Western countries share the yearning to represent the non-figurative in their creations, and practice art as a metaphysical quest for higher meaning. Western abstract art rejected traditional mimesis in order to communicate values and feelings in the visual language of essential forms, colors, and materials.
However, there is a significant difference between these Western ideals and the consummate spiritual insight pursued by traditional Chinese scholar-painters. Mr. YAN Shanchun noticed this difference and he once pointed out that the beauty of a painting consists entirely in its evocation of the human spirit. This evocation calls out to our hearts and transcends the ink and color, the materials and forms of which the painting is made. I still remember that in autumn 2006 Shanchun came to Shanghai from Guangdong and brought a few of his abstract paintings for an exhibition. His artistic creations, embodying the spirit of mountains and rivers, inspired me with a profound nostalgia deep in my heart. Although he uses Western abstract painting methods, his art evokes the visual poetry found in the greatest Chinese paintings. The forms in his art eschew structure and definition, like water, wind, moonlight and fragrance, which one can feel intimately and yet can never grasp or control. His colors are subdued and elegant, like the music of a harp played by graceful and tender hands. This delicate beauty enthralls my senses as I wander about within it, reminded of the encompassing silence of first snow in the foothills, and the meditative insight of fine poetry.
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