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20.07.18 - Gently pursuing memories, and then profoundly describing the dreams – The Art of Chen Yun’s paintings and memories

輕輕地追尋著記憶,然後深刻地描述著夢境——陳雲的繪畫・記憶之術

文/王璽安

夢境裡外,許多人都有種經驗,夢裏的時間,似乎與客觀度量上有著極大差異,睡眠中做了夢,醒來卻以為數天或是數年已過。也所以時間有種為人熟知的二分法:客觀量化的時間,如時鐘刻度。感受性的時間,如人們經歷極大壓力時,總覺得時間的行進特別慢。而繪畫則是時間最具體的見證,從開始繪畫到結束一件作品的那一刻開始,繪畫作品上的處處痕跡,都將時間軌跡具現於畫面之上,繪畫特質就是呈現出時間的凝結。頭一次看到陳雲作品時,印象最深的部分就是透過畫面技術營造出的時間感,畫面中許多的塗繪與繪畫層次的營造,被顏料壓縮在一起,時間層層貼合到了畫面裡頭,看似具象的畫面,又像是一段追尋故事或是追憶情境的過程,沒有結論,甚至也不需要結論,畫面上顏料自身狀態所顯現的繪畫技術表現,以及繪畫主題(motif)之間,兩者接合在時間的某個點,喚起了我們對於同樣畫面中人物記憶共感投射。

記憶的方法
繪畫的圖像往往是虛構的,虛構的人為事物就是繪畫的表象,在圖像之中可能不存在、或無法證明所謂的真實為何,圖像與真實世界的關係往往是透過記憶而被再現,這使得繪畫裏頭對於事件的詮釋顯得更加人為。繪畫使用圖像如同神秘學般的存在,藝術家(或是世上歷來對於圖像象徵感興趣的創作者們),他們作為不具顯著活動名目的人類社群而言,讓人想起歷史上十七世紀歐陸的「玫瑰十字會」(Rosicrucianism),他們帶有神秘的、堅定的世界觀、以及涉及許多科學與藝術領域而來的神秘哲思,甚至該會實際到底是如何運作的至今仍有爭議,玫瑰十字會所被時人傳頌的理念卻具有實實在在的影響力。藝術家的集體圖像生產脈絡與方法也仿若如此,種種形式都有它特別的、神秘的個殊意義。對於創作者來說,創作可以被看作藝術家對於世界的一種神秘研究。她不完全訴諸理性,但卻有著藝術家對世界的投射,圖像於繪畫也就不僅是種插圖般的存有:繪畫在此成了神秘學,承載著記憶與技藝間的連結了世人對於想像的創造力。記憶是種神秘的存在,人們對於記憶的表達可能是有偏誤的,但記憶的偏差卻常常是想像的開始;而藝術往往是對於世界觀察的另類路徑,對於我們已知的事物是藝術的來源,但藝術的表現卻往往不僅看似已知的事物。而也就像是夢境的回溯,人們常有種經驗,夢中醒來卻沒有對於夢的記憶,而只記得有個夢的過程;亦或我們能夠記得夢的內容,但究竟誰能以一種全然科學實證的方法證實夢的內容的每個細節呢?更深刻的提問是,一個人的夢,究竟能不能夠完全地被另個人以感官方式一同體驗呢?

在陳雲的作品裡頭,有著許多圖像的拼組,這些拼組仿彿來自於她對於記憶與夢的拼接,在這些看似具有形象的繪畫中,因為拼組並不具有故事性,同時畫面如同蒙太奇剪接的樣貌,使得她的作品在具象(figurative)的風格中產生了變化,畫面中具體的形象被獨立起來,反而成為了值得玩味的碎片狀態,圖像與圖像之間的抽象性(abstractive)關係,成了觀賞者主動參與的可能性,觀賞者必須以自己的心智活動,將這些故事串連起來。如同夢境往往片段的嫁接形成了清醒後的記憶脈絡,我們透過記憶認識了我們自己,才發現認識自己的過程裡,時間是零散而不連續的存在,甚至是無時間的狀態,陳雲畫面裡的圖像技巧是掠過時間的記憶術,而這些記憶的技術與藝術間成了她繪畫裡頭最特別的部分。我們能夠實實在在地,將記憶化作具有重量的事物嗎?還是,繪畫是對於記憶輕掠而過的保存呢?

英國文藝復興時期的思想博學者佛洛德(Robert Fludd, 1574-1637)以神秘學以及對於世界觀所持有的特殊看法而聞名於世,他在對於人們如何對記憶的技術有著特別關乎於藝術圖像的看法,在《兩個世界的歷史》(History of the Macrocosm and Microcosm)一書中,提到「圓的藝術」最能夠表達一個自然的世界觀,從黃道十二宮以至於天文地理學上而言,圓形是自然的架構,相對地,「方的藝術」是種人為的形態。

  「增進記憶只能靠技巧方法,或藉藥物,或藉想像力,在圓的藝術中對概念的運作,或透過方的藝術中的有形事物影像。」– 佛洛德 (Robert Fludd)

佛洛德對於記憶之術的看法,其實是來自於公元前一世紀左右的《獻給赫倫尼》(Ad Herrenium)一書,書中描述記憶技術可以將事物想像成放在櫃子以及建築物房間的物品,藉由這些方形物(人造的物質)的位置,使得記憶變的容易定位與分類而被深刻地以圖像化,而使得記憶變的清晰不忘。

於是記憶(甚至是夢的)需要特定形式來支撐,這也是人類智慧的經驗積累,繪畫也是如此的再表現上被人類的智慧累積著(不具智性部分思維的繪畫往往沒有長遠的價值)。陳雲作品中有著幾種容易辨識形式:拼組的畫面、打磨與壓縮的繪畫上色層次、看似不經修飾的顏料打磨後的溢出,以及許多看起來具有雕塑質地質感厚度、卻又顯得的乾淨的畫面,還有許多方形繪畫的排列組合。這些在她作品可以經常看見的形式,也成了她對於掌握藝術與捕捉記憶的體現與理性思考方式。

憂傷微微,卻可以浮華若現
神秘的事物多以一種“好似認得些什麼卻又不能或不須真正明白”的狀態吸引著人們,回憶的似曾相似,夢裡的似曾相似,醒來時對於夢境的似曾相似,還有面對來自回憶的作品的似曾相似。這些不能全然明白卻又依然追尋的圖像,如同文學與藝術所追尋的風箏,在風吹時,即將飛飄忽走卻又被人們抓著,直到風箏受控,把握細線的扎實技巧讓,讓即將走遠而被人們憂慮的布帆,成了華美飄忽的畫面。

陳雲的作品,即有這樣的特質,繪畫的高度技巧使用,卻呈現了如同文學語句的感受,不太具有過度量感的文學特質,像是對於記憶飄忽的形容,繪畫在此語句化轉換成了記憶的語彙。在〈流洩。浸漫草花的今生依戀〉畫面上下兩件拼組,上方流下的灰調上色,成了一種時間方向軸的暗示,流溢而下的顏料是時間的垂直軸,下方鮮明的人物主體,彷彿暗喻人們青春形象以及女性特質的當下現況,人物主體中,不完全的強調形象刻畫,人物身體裡的花梗散落,使得記憶片段的浮光掠影感體現,我們看到陳雲在此對於圖像語彙的熟稔,光影在記憶凝結成為繪畫時,作品是個別創造者價值的外在見證,抽象的想像特質成了具體形象繪畫的昇華結果,而這見證往往成了能被感官化的憂傷美感反而顯得華美了起來。陳雲繪畫裡頭,讓繪畫成為記憶圖像追尋的手法也關乎繪畫技巧層次的使用,原本如立體空間飄忽的夢境與回憶,成了層疊片片的色彩平面。又比如〈伴。如刻似抹的面貌依偎入心之淵〉作品畫面中,上下分開的畫面使用了許多的平面感塗繪方式,看起來平塗,實際觀看卻有著厚度與細微的質感保留,看似薄卻又帶有厚實多層的處理,使得畫面空間不再是平面之感,層層之中,如履夢境深淵,畫面的符號,清晰的被描繪予保留,但方形上下分割的畫面所顯現的卻是種近乎失語狀態而顯得神秘的斷裂故事。畫面中女性人物主體的面部,被繪畫的筆觸與色塊所塗蓋,繪畫的行為不只為了表達其顏色的特質,繪畫在此成了憂傷卻迷人的文學性方形場域。

有種許多人都認同的說法:好的文學總帶有些憂傷甚至悲劇特質,這或許因為我們明白世間的不完美,這些不完美就像是對於美好記憶僅能追尋,而這追尋過程卻是複雜多層次的,細細品味這些過程,卻可能是最讓人們感到享受的地方:我們不能在當下時空中重覆複製過往感受,但繪畫卻可以透過藝術家神秘的研究與追尋,提供一個真切的當下,如同一種記憶的技術,喚起我們共有的情感與無以名之的親切知覺與共感(sympathy),陳雲的作品在這樣的方向而言,讓我們看到繪畫可以使得回憶與不可捉模事物被體現的可能,而其中,些許憂傷的追憶與繪畫對記憶的描述,這神秘的追尋記憶過程使得不可捕捉的夢境反而顯得歡愉而是實際。

Gently pursuing memories, and then profoundly describing the dreams – The Art of Chen Yun’s paintings and memories

Text: Wang Seam

Many people have experienced a substantial difference in the perception of time inside and outside the realm of dreams. When we wake up from a dream it seems as if numerous days or even years have passed by. So there is a well-known dichotomy of time: objectively quantified time, such as the clock scale, and the time of sensibility. For instance, when people experience extreme pressure, they always feel that time travels very slowly. As a matter of fact painting is the most concrete testimony of time. From the moment you start painting to the end of a work, the traces of the paintings all show the time trajectory on the painting canvas. It can be stated that the main trait of any painting is the condensation of time.
The first time I saw Chen Yun’s paintings, I remember the most impressive trait was the sense of time created by the technique. The layers of painting and the way they are juxtaposed and added to each other create a parallel to the way time is perceived by human beings. Chen Yun’s paintings might seem figurative art but at the same time they are also like a process of pursuing a story or recalling a situation. There is no conclusion because no conclusion is needed. Time is the trait d’union between the technical representation on the canvas and the motif, evoking our resonance with the memory of the characters within the picture itself.

Memorization methods
Painting images often happen to be fictitious. Sometimes it is simply impossible to verify whether these images are authentic or not. The relationship between images and the real world is often reproduced through memory. This gives a major role to people in interpreting the event inside the painting. Images thus take on a mysterious existence of their own. Artists (or creators who have been interested in image symbolism throughout history), in the sense of a human community with no significant activity, are reminiscent of the historical 17th century European Rosicrucianism. They have a mysterious and firm worldview, as well as mysterious philosophies involving many fields of science and art. Even the actual operation of such societies is quite controversial. The influence of Rosicrucianism back in its age was very tangible. Nowadays, artists’ collective imagery and production methods are similar; in a certain sense all forms have their special and mysterious meanings. For creators, creation can be seen as an artist’s mysterious way to study and investigate the world. Chen Yun does not completely resort to reason; however, she projects her artist’s mind onto the world. The essence of images no longer solely relies on their illustrative purposes: paintings take on a mystical characteristic, bearing a connection between art and memory, thus providing human people with the ability to imagine. Memory is a mysterious existence. People may have biases as for how memory expresses itself; however, the deviation of memory is often the beginning of imagination. Art is often an alternative path to world observation. What we know is the source of art, but what it expresses often remains a mystery. It is like recalling a dream. People often have this kind of experience. When they wake up from a dream, they don’t have memories of what they actually dreamt, but they only remember having a dream. Or maybe we can even remember the content of the dream, but who can confirm every detail of the content of what one has dreamed in a completely scientific and empirical way? Yet a deeper question could be, can a person’s dream be completely experienced by another person in a sensory manner?

In Chen Yun’s paintings, many images are pieced together, which seem to come from the artist’s union of memory and dreams. In these seemingly imaginative paintings, because the composition is not story-like, and the picture is like a montage, her figurative style presents some changes. The specific images become thus independent and the whole work becomes a fragmentary state worthy of playful investigation, and the abstractive relationship between images and memories becomes the possibility of active participation of the viewers. The viewers must use their own mental activities to connect these stories together. Just like dreams grafts often forms one’s memories after waking up, and it is thanks to these memories that we get to know ourselves. It is exactly in the process of knowing ourselves that we realize that, in our memories, time is scattered and not continuous. Actually at times our memories are even timeless. Chen Yun’s paintings use a memory technique sweeping past time, and this connection between Chen Yun’s art and the use of time and memory is a peculiar aspect of her art. Can we actually turn memory into quantifiable and concrete objects? Or is painting just a preservation of memory?

Robert Fludd, a British Renaissance scholar (1574-1637) is known for his occultism and his special worldview. He has a special view on how people have a memory image. His view on artistic images is really interesting when it comes to the techniques how people memorize things. In his book History of the Macrocosm and Microcosm, Fludd describes two arts of memory: the “round art,” similar to the occult use of astrology and images symbolizing the zodiac, and the “square art,” more like the medieval system of using images of “corporeal things” like men and animals placed in memory rooms.

  “To improve memory one can rely on skill methods, or medication, or on imagination, the operation of concepts in round art, or through the tangible things in square art”.-Robert Fludd

Fludd’s perception of memory actually stems from the book Ad Herrenium around the first century BC, which describes memory techniques by way of using images of corporeal things like men and animals placed in cabinets and rooms. Through these square tangible objects, it is easy to locate and categorize our memories; hence through the use of images it is possible to make our memories clear and unforgettable.

Therefore, memory (even dreams) needs specific forms to support, which is also the accumulation of experience of human wisdom. Painting is also expressed in the accumulation of human wisdom (paintings that are not somehow linked to the wisdom of human mind in any specific time in history often have no long-term value). There are several easy-to-recognize forms in Chen Yun’s works: the piecing together of the represented objects, the polished and condensed coloring in all its layers, the overflowing of the seemingly unembellished pigments, and many representations which seem to have a sculptural thickness to them, yet clean. There are also many combinations of square paintings. These forms, which can be seen frequently in her works, have also become an expression of how she masters art and captures memories and rational thinking.

The artist transforms apprehension into a magnificent tableau
Mysterious things have the ability to attract people because we seem to understand something about them or be somehow acquainted with them but we cannot truly and genuinely understand their true nature. Memories are like dreams; they create a sense of déjà-vu. It’s like when you wake up from a dream, you seem to have a vague memory of it, the same thing happens with works of art. These images, which cannot be fully understood but are still pursued, are like the kites pursued by literature and art. When the wind blows, the kite initially drifts away but then it is held still by people, until it no longer risks flying away, in a way the same thing happens with art and literature, which through solid and detailed dexterity, transforms a worrisome canvas into a magnificent tableau.

This characteristic can also be found in Chen Yun’s works: thanks to the painting skills, the artist transforms her works of art in a fine piece of literature, without excessive rhetoric. It is like a description of how memories drift from one place to another, and painting is thus converted into a vocabulary of memory. In the two pieces composing Pouring. Possession of this life soaked in flowers,the gray color flowing down from the upper piece is a hint of the time axis. The pigment flowing down is the vertical axis of time, and the bright subject of the lower part is like a concealed analogy of people’s youthful image and femininity. In the main body of the character, the image is not completely emphasized, and the peduncle in the body of the character is scattered, which gives the memory fragment a sense of being cursory. We see Chen Yun’s familiarity with image vocabulary. When light and shadow become a painting, the works are the external witness of the value of individual creators. The abstract imagination traits have become the sublimation result of concrete image painting, and this testimony has often become a sorrowful beauty that can be sensed and which instead seems to become magnificent and resplendent. In Chen Yun’s paintings, the way in which painting becomes a memory image is also related to the use of painting techniques. The original dreams and memories, such as the three-dimensional space, become the color plane in which layers of pigments are juxtaposed one on top of another. In the painting Companion. Smeared faces comforting one another, leaning upon each other, the upper and the lower part of the work of art both use techniques conveying a flat sense of space. It seems to be flat, but when one looks at it closely, one can see a thickness and subtle texture retention. In other words, at first sight it seems to be thin but it actually has a thick multi-layered treatment, so that the picture space is no longer flat. The viewer can meander through its different layers, just as in a dream abyss. In this way, the author can clearly express the symbology behind the painting. The two distinct square pieces comprising the painting seem to convey a sense of a broken, speechless, and mysterious story. The face of the female subject in the picture is covered by the brushstrokes and color blocks. The painting is not only a means to express the characteristics of its color, but rather becomes a sorrowful yet charming literary square field.

There is a common saying that many people agree with: good literature always has some sadness and even tragic qualities to it. Perhaps this is because we understand the imperfections in the world; these imperfections are like the pursuit of good memories, which is a fairly complicated process. It is multi-level, and it requires a constant savoring of the process itself; indeed, it may be the most enjoyable place for people: we can’t repeat the past feelings in the current time and space, but the painting can provide a true sense of here and now through the artist’s mysterious research and pursuit, like a memory technique which evokes our shared emotions as well as an indescribable sense of intimacy and sympathy. Chen Yun’s works let us see the possibility that painting can make memories and can give expression to things that would otherwise be ungraspable, such as sad memories and the way paintings convey these memories. This mysterious process of pursuing memories transforms ungraspable dreams into a pragmatic and practical delight.

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