梧桐雨 2007.11.04

Always intrigued by innovative cooperative new productions this reviewer eagerly accepts invitations from friends to see new productions like 梧桐雨, 快雪時晴, 王心心’s-霓裳羽衣. But first of all, is 梧桐雨 worth it? Absolutely YES!

梧桐雨

Can 梧桐雨 be improved? Well, also YES! in several ways.

First though, top marks for the staging, the costumes and the lighting! A!

The innovative orchestration incorporating Oriental instruments was SUPERB! It is successful and marvellous. Double A! (One might add that the reedy 笙and嗩吶 – especially for the Hu- ethnic dancing passage – was very spicy!)

Second, the acting (that is, the directing) for the singers (under the condition of singing in Western opera style) B – B+

The story, including a visit to the Moon and a sort of cathartic ending – makes TOP opera material – A+

The lyrics: slightly mixed and forced, lacking in consistency – B

The singing was thankless: singers with excellent voices and training, singing difficult passages… But as it was they could not realize what they can do with their skills – because the opportunity for dramatic, moving, heart-rending expression was not in the music! And that is due, methinks, to the lack of harmonic foundations. Relying merely on modern serial music does not make for aural drama.

I may have heard a wisp of kunqu 崑曲 here and there – but don’t remember where. Thus, one could say its inclusion failed to elicit the desired effect of surprise or nostalgia.

I do remember being delighted – and relieved (sic) – upon hearing beiguan 北管in the gezaixi 歌仔戲passages. I was not alone. Each time the poet Li Bo came on stage the theatre was charged with excitement and the audience came back to life.

Unfortunately even here, the beautiful orchestration was not in support of the beiguan drift but rather was forcing its own modern mode through it – This was harmful to the overall effect.

This music has proven that it is eminently possible – and marvelous – to interweave non-western passages into “modern classical” music. After all, modern music, especially this one being often atonal – has no roots and no gravity. This is at the same time a defect in the overall concept. And here I feel strongly that: Love or other passion – of a romantic kind as in the Song of Everlasting Sorrow 長恨歌 variety – if not delivered in traditional Chinese operatic strains (or ban 板) which have long been already identified with certain emotions, – should be written in some sort of tonal, music with a harmonic foundation – music with the potential of having dramatic dissonances and clearly harmonic resolutions (Arvo Pärt is a great example.) Only this way can an audience feel the dramatic tensions one expects to experience in a passion of such magnitude as that between the emperor Tang Minghuang and his ill-fated consort Yang guifei. Setting the music in a cold, intellectual modern music that in itself has no built-in consonance and dissonance will lack root and base; and the listener does not feel departures and returns to tranquility in the music material itself. And that was a basic flaw in the new opera, the Firmiana Tree, to my mind.

How wonderful to have had real kunqu 崑曲(anachronistic it would be, though), even real Peking opera as well as Taiwanese (perfectly wonderful to bring out Tang rhyme schemes) beiguan 北管and go’ahi 歌仔戲in modern music!! And how very rich! But one needn’t virtually cancel them out with grating modernistic dissonances that run counter to the Li Bo singing, as if to be insisting “don’t forget ladies and gents we are doing 21st century modern music here!”

The Central Asian passages for the dance was marvelous and pure. I had been several times in Tashkent, and once at a local wedding heard them perform traditional music from ancient sites: Ferghana (where Zhang Qian 張騫found horses for Han Wudi漢武帝), Khorasmia and other parts, still enticing, playing instruments like(ly the progenitors of) the erhu, the clapper, as well as a hollow reeded instrument.

The Firmiana Tree program notes tell us that sections from Japanese Gagaku 雅樂and from Dunhuang music had been incorporated : I wish these could have been more obvious. I was so very keen to hear strains from these ancient times but left the theatre rather disappointed.

Is this the first time such daring combinations had been attempted? It is the first time I am going to theatres in Taipei with such frequency now that I have moved up here. As you know all these past years I’ve been in Xinzhu and Tainan and have remained not at all au courant with the Taipei cultural scene.

I am deeply impressed by the possibility such innovative work offers, and terribly excited it has started. (BTW There is no need for a barbarian – An Lushan – to sing in German, full of such difficult, closed sounds. If anything foreign, he might sing in east-Persian – from Sogdiana – the modern Uzbekistan – or, even Korean, Mongolian or Japanese – one of the Altaic languages related to the ancient Turkic family of An Lushan’s tribe?)

Sunlight After Quick Snow 快雪時晴

This production to my mind was much more successful in music and as a stage event. Although the music was not so innovative – it served perfectly to support the dramatic story! Here is where composer and dramatists should cooperate.

Here the dramaturgy wins high marks. Travelling through time can dramatically highlight certain aspects – and here in this work we see the feminine hand behind it – the Mother Eternal and her (so far still futile) opposition to wars and killings, epoch after epoch.

The scenery with the revolving stage, and calligraphy specimens so marvelously enlarged, were all plusses.

My greatest complaint comes again to the music – where the composer for some reason closes certain phrases on what in diatonic scale harmony would be a tonic triad, turning an otherwise Chinese polyphonic phrase into a Western do-mi-sol harmony block. This is like throwing a lump of vanilla ice cream into a cup of fresh hot jasmine tea. Incongruous and somewhat shocking, such a change in basic aural structure or musical modes serves only to stop the original flow and to take the audience out into the cold.

This same syndrome surfaced the last two nights at the “Mulian Saves His Mother (from Hell)” 泉州打城戲《木連救母》 performed by the visiting folk opera troupe from Quanzhou, where a silly ‘cello line emerged beneath the Chinese erhu and sanxian and cymbal music, making curious, unfitting do- mi- sols- in an accompaniment reminiscent of Renaissance or Baroque cembalo-and-continuo plucking the dominant and tonic up and down, sometimes running an arpeggio. This is a terrible mistake, and often caused the ending of lilting, melodic Chinese phrases to come bang up against a chunky “chord”, (with often the baseline resting on the lower third!!)

It is patently clear that Chinese opera phrases (of any style, Nanguan to Peking Opera) all end as “trailing, floating energy” that continue into the silences, whereas a triad chord is an abrupt cesura to that subtle movement, a STOP sign that blocks further breathing.

That baseline truly was irritating throughout, and to me proved conclusively that Chinese theatre music does not need the base support that has been the solid foundation to Western music. (The reason I think, is that Western music since becoming harmonic with the Renaissance, used in their melodies notes that are overtones to their given base strings. Thus the base line fortifies the tonality and the modality. But this is not the case in Chinese music and composers or musicians should not make this basic confusion!!)

But for Chinese Peking opera music to be supported with a Western symphonic orchestra, I think, can be quite acceptable and, as long as the music “behaves,” in not going contrary to the style, the orchestra may help Western audiences to get used to the relative naïveté and simplicity (i.e. the lack of harmonic substance) of Chinese music, as well as its high-pitched gut- and guttural vocal environment.

The addition of the Chinese cymbals and wooden clappers used traditionally to indicate and/or start off certain gestures, movements or emotions, turned out in this orchestra to be simply marvelous! They added so much richness and historic content to this modern blend!

The Story Line of Sunlight After Quick Snow: the pointed stress on the fugitive from civil warfare fleeing to “the south” was moving, and especially poignant to all the Chinese in the audience who are not native to Taiwan. Although here for already fifty years, they and their children are still called waishengren 外省人 and many have in recent years suffered sometimes brutal slings and arrows of DPP provincialism and parochialism. The dramatic import and the music combined in this work struck home, and many in the audience wept.

Lastly, 霓裳羽衣 proved a strange disappointment in the first part. The music and the musicianship of Wang Xinxin 王心心 were, as usual, unique and superlative. But like the disruptive ‘cello accompaniment in the Quanzhou folk opera “Mulian Saves His Mother (from Hell)”, the vocal centerpiece of Wang’s performance was disturbed and disrupted by the addition of a dumb-play where Tang Minghuang’s consort Yang guifei sits at her boudoir primping herself, attended by slow-motion ladies-in-waiting. To be sure, Wang’s lyrics describe the Lady Yang getting ready for her meeting with the emperor, the details of her garments etc. – but there was no need for the stage to be set in motion with that sort of meaningless pantomiming of the lyrics.

Wang Xinxin herself has a huge presence. She alone can fill the whole stage and far beyond, and her singing is enough to keep the audience entranced throughout. The superfluous mime-passages proved to serve as competition to the music, and caused the audience much distraction as they sought to get a better view of the actors, to see the details of their dress and hairdo – and thus lose the whole-hearted concentration on the music that should have been the sole object of attention. Wang’s music and her musicianship are both subtle and yet penetrating, and should be absorbed with one’s whole being down to one’s breathing.

The second part involved singing on the part of both Tang Minghuang and Yang guifei, in a lovely sequence where the couple wrote music and instructed court musicians in the performance of this their collaborative opus, and culminated in a very charming rendition of the new instrumental piece that ended the evening on a very positive note.

It looks from these exciting experimentations that our traditional arts have every chance of surviving into the future. The above examples of Taiwan’s musicians and dramatists today will go far in bridging the gulf from our forebears to our space-age descendants. Care must be taken however, when integrating traditional music with Western music, to preserve the basic aspects, or essential qualities of Chinese music whenever it may be invoked, and never to make the mistake of dressing it in a harmonic frame. Then we have the blessing of the ancient Chinese language (usually displayed with flash-cards on both sides of the stage). This is full of nuances and virtually any phrase can evoke even more ancient references and so, with this multi-layered linguistic base, Chinese musical theatre will certainly have a most brilliant future.

晨暮中的行星—李安成當代水墨跨年個展

晨暮中的行星—李安成當代水墨跨年個展

徐小虎著(2008.12.27)

上雲藝術中心2008.12.27 – 2009.03.15
高雄市鹽埕區大勇路11號7樓

____________

宇宙能量同源 萬物本為一體
成了彼此 就有了愛與所愛

愛將自己完全地支出
給賦於所愛
消失了自己
而所愛的被愛轉變了
成為和自己混亂的新生命力

如同大地心腑中湧衝出來的岩漿
滾滾吼轟的沸花
灌溉了半睡半驚醒的 夜山
紅火泥湯 望大海流著 涼著
變成了新坡的黑山輕石

或浮雲腫腫 灰白的蒸汽
慢慢地往山頂飄著 途中忽然
被山頂吸引住了 往下沈降
緊緊地撫抱著樹木 花草 混亂為一
彼此再也離不開了
浮雲因此消失
而新山頂
吸著暮晨燦爛的水晶

李安成畫畫
將自己完全地給賦於筆墨紙
木炭煙的墨 草本的紙
竹幹羊毛的大小筆
一一爛醉於清水
安成握著筆
愛握著安成
宇宙握著愛
筆沾飽了濃墨 沾飽了清水
沈降於半睡半驚醒的白紙
緊緊地擁抱著 撫擦著各種角落作愛
墨花滾滾滿天沖
一層再一層的墨吻 黑上焦 焦上漆
忽然
混亂中 原來細細的裂縫 扯開了
擴大了 吼轟著
露出了心裡最深處 那無限 永恆的白 無底的傷痕

施放著語言無法表達的痛苦
緊抱著無極的生命力

____________

Musing Planet: Li Ancheng Inkwash Painting Exhibition

Soaring Cloud Art Center 2008.12.27 – 2009.03.15
7 Fl, 11 Dayong Road, Yancheng District, Kaohsiung

http://www.sc-art.org.tw

by Joan Stanley-Baker (28 Dec. 2009)

Universal energy informs all beings and all things
Once I and Thou merge, Love and life are born

Love radiates all of the lover
onto the beloved
losing its self
as the beloved is transformed
into new life absorbing the lover

like magma roiling from the bowels of the earth
spewing up roaring flowers of fire
pouring down over the night hill, half asleep half startled
incandescent flushing lava rushing seaward red cooling
scribing a new landscape of black rocks and pumice stones

or white clouds swollen in their passage
floating gently toward the peak and abruptly
caught by the mountain’s cavernous fire descend
embracing the trees their branches and leaves
rocks and grasses all mixed into one
never again to be parted
and so as wafting clouds disappear
the new mountain top
breathes deep with black and white sparkles

and so in his painting, Li Ancheng
pours himself entirely into brush ink water and paper
with ink of charcoal, paper of fibres
bamboo brush large and small of various hairs
each one of them drunk on clear fresh water

Ancheng grips the brush
love grips Ancheng
as the universe grips love
the brushtip bursts with dark ink, the seeping water
plunging down into the half sleeping half startled paper
passionately embracing, caressing various zones in wordless love
spewing bursts of ink flowers into the skies
layer on layer of ink kissing jet black on black,
when suddenly
out of chaos the thin white seam bursts
stretching growing
howling anguish
from the depth of the heart
freeing the infinite scar
of eternal white

releasing agony that has no words
a life force without bounds

文獻霸權必須全罷

給在學術界作研究工作的年輕的學者們….

「文獻霸權必須全罷」

「2003海峽兩岸藝術史學與考古學方法研討會」
時間:2003年10月25日至26日

地點:國立台南藝術學院

國立台南藝術學院 10.25-~26

要「全罷」的不是「文獻」而是其「霸權」

文獻的陷阱

  從事歷史性研究時,學著大多都先埋首於文獻,去「蒐集古代記載」來「瞭解古代狀況」。靠著「現成」資料會讓我們安心。當翻閱古書或新報告,古今之聲音持續從頁面湧出時,使得我們在浩瀚的世界尋找渺小的真理可以不再感到孤獨。於是我們在極多不同文字綫索上組構「研究」的基礎,幷盡量試著解决記載中可能現出的彼此矛盾的資訊。我們的報告大多因此是建構在他人的記載和研究之上的。

  此一模式看上去似乎有兩個優點:工作不必從頭開始、不必運用眼睛、腦袋和經驗來檢驗研究物本身,重新驗證以往文獻或傳說的設想;研究結果的責任也不必由我們獨自負擔。這樣就可不必直接面對研究核心,也避開了漫長、孤獨地追根究底、甚至於推翻百年假定且被威權界排斥的危險工作;同時又可因而被認為是個有學問的學者。真是不亦樂乎?

  但是許多文獻是統治者基於自我膨脹、自我永恒化的心態和目的,命令代書在青銅、竹片或羊皮上撰寫而成的,其中常出現他們如何光榮地毀滅了他人的片面記載,導致被壓迫、被統治的無辜大衆都如羔羊般地認為那些記載就是他們最關心的「人民史」。數百代以來史學家所撰寫的「歷史紀錄」,幾乎都是從舊「統治者觀念」的文獻中衍生而出的新統治者觀念的文獻。那些文獻却不曾探討人民所關注的事情在時空中如何衍變。[1] 這種紀錄者可能足不出戶─亦即從來未在現場進行過搜尋、檢視各種原始史遺、出土文物與相關資料,而僅僅以史料為第一線索。

  古代文獻與記錄全然可靠嗎?試問今天我們所能看到的關於古代的記錄與文獻可靠嗎?

  一旦「文明」人類把自己綁在自己創造出的文字及文獻─即概念─的框架中,便可能陷在人工的虛擬世界裡,可能因此而不再相信自己與宇宙萬物接觸的直接經驗。許多學者可能因而不再啟動自有生命的感官或眼光。

  我們可以參考不同時代的歐洲、甚至於希臘作者在撰寫關於銅器時代的克里特島(Crete)之「迷諾」(Minos)王朝文化所傳達的不同訊息,在看此等訊息與二十世紀英國考古對所挖掘出來的時在的情況。再來檢驗依賴著文獻而詮釋出土文物,這種「學術方法」之不妥。來看最近的訊息,參考大英辭典Encyclopaedia Britannica, 讀者會發現此迷諾王是被描寫為Knossos城堡的殘酷霸王。 他

─ 與歐洲神牛Europa交,生了人面牛身之猛獸Minotaur
─ 於是命雅典建築師 Daedalus及其兒子 Icarus 為這猛獸蓋造一個迷宮Labyrinth
─ 又強迫雅典市每九年送貢給此猛獸少男少女各七位
─ 後來因為雅典王子Theseus 前往克諾蒐斯(Knossos),殺死了猛獸、救回了雅典市的自主權

  從此文獻告訴其依賴者四千年前的當時的克里特島是由霸君統籌的殘酷社會。大英辭典資訊本身又來自哪裡呢?它是依賴紀年前五世紀的雅典「史學家」Thucydides的說法:

─ 迷諾為克諾蒐斯(Knossos)市一位攻擊雅典的霸王,Daedalus子Icarus紀元前4世紀(圖源:網路)
─ 古代(即神話時代的)希臘王Theseus 之敵
─ 也就是說就迷諾王是希臘人之敵
─ 如同當代(紀元前5世紀)波斯之霸君Darius 於紀元前488 及 480年進行海攻雅典之戰
─ 迷諾王曾掌握著海洋上的霸權 (thalassocracy) (如同當代波斯王所欲)

  在這個時候,此傳說普遍畫成神話了,藝術品也被製造出來,如同羅馬時代對雅典建築師 Daedalus與其而兒子Icarus的「肖像」。

  此講當然是鼓勵雅典市民必須要全心團結控制海盜,準備防止波斯海軍侵入。

  這兩千多年,全盤依賴文獻的人都對克里特島迷諾王有極壞的印象與成見。在廿世紀初1900年,當英國探險家Arthur Evans挖掘到了克里特島東北部的克諾蒐斯(Knossos)市遺址時,它們發現的證據都是一個極溫和、極度平等的社會:沒有任何如同當代商朝華人或同時鄰近埃及王朝那種大規模的殉葬墓,沒有都市的圍牆,沒有大量的軍器,也根本沒有如同迷宮labyrinth的設施。但因為過渡依賴文獻的學術界,堅持要把此文化歸納到它們所讀到又相信的「暴君、慘酷」印象裡,英國考古學家們多數跟著這位帝國主義時代活躍的Evans,至今還稱著Knossos遺址所反射的文化為Minoan即(暴君、迷宮的)迷諾王朝時代。

  諷刺的是,考古出土文物完全推反了希臘古典時代(紀元前5~4世紀)以來錯誤文獻的誤導:Knossos之宮神殿及同文化的Santorini (Akrotiri)島上的Thera遺址裡的若干大規模宮神殿類所發現的壁畫都充滿著歌頌大自然的圖案,清楚地實現了一個驚人的、世界文化史裡獨一無二的最高等的文明證據:指出一個極有美感、愛自然、有群眾進行儀式與神靈溝通的社會,一個和平、平等、富有、又尊重所有生物(不論它們多麼的普通)的文化與社會機制。但是目前歷史還沒有改正波斯─希海戰時代Thucydides為激動民眾的抗爭心而造出的假「歷史」。

〔圖〕迷諾文化之典型壁畫,四面歌頌著大自然、當地生物,山水花草、動物等。圖檔來自Thera遺址、筆者拍於雅典國立考古博物館。

  我們現在可以隨回四百年更早的荷馬名下所編輯的Odyssey大詩史來看他對克里特島的迷諾王如何地說:

- 克里特島曾為一個公正與美麗的海島
- 人口極高
- 有九個大都市
- 用多種不同的語言
- 有一個偉大之城市 Knossos
- 迷諾王是祖神Zeus之子
- 每九年與父Zeus會議審定公正的政策 [2]   

〔圖〕迷諾文化象牙雕? – 兩愛人(筆者拍照於Heraklion博物館)
〔圖〕迷諾時代宮殿中庭跳牛祭,來自Knossos宮殿壁畫。(筆者拍照於Heraklion博物館)

  從二十世紀考古所挖掘出來的實物證據來看的話,親眼能看得到那遙遠的謎諾民族對大自然的熱愛、崇拜與喜悅。所畫、所雕的母題都充滿著愛與生命力。不同於我們當代所認識的「鬥牛」機制,其目的為把牛殺死或污辱,Knossos宮殿理的鬥牛祭世人和牛一起玩,要合作才能成功的把戲。

〔圖〕迷諾時代海豚母題陶容器 筆者拍作於雅典國立考古博物館
〔圖〕迷諾時代雙蜂金佩 (筆者拍照於Heraklion博物館)

  今天我們在各遺址到處都看得到當時當地的「土產」:燕子、海豚、春天的小花、小兔子等令人惜愛的生物。沒有絲毫的自我龐大、或如同商朝銅器上有威脅性、目的為壓抑他人的權威標誌。

〔圖〕謎諾時代墨魚陶扁壺。筆者拍作於雅典國立考古博物館

  在此我們也可以提出藝術史學者與純歷史學者之不同。因為前者(應)依靠實物證據來做分析來形容某一個時代、地區或人物,他們的「故事」很可能與後者只依靠「文獻」而研究出來的「史事」有差異。這是因為藝術史學者能從容器的造型和裝飾對其時代、社會、人情都會找出一些線索。我們只要比較迷諾時代和商朝的容器, 就可以看到前者的繪圖完全配配合了陶器的外型的事實,它左右不對稱、繪圖自由,卻達到整個構圖的內在平衡,所表達的氣氛是自在、和平與善良。 後者不然:把器型分成上下四層,各以不同的母題來布置,圖面分成重要、次要、邊界等不同價值的層次,又以嚴謹的左右對稱、可充滿威脅性的饕餮來呈現物主的權威,明顯地反射著一個不平等、多階級層次的暴君機制,與銅器時代克里特島的開朗文明截然不同。

  即使一百年前大英帝國的考古家堅持他們挖掘的是迷宮暴君的宮殿,從以上的實物來看的話,很多現代考古學者很難應證大英辭典Encyclopaedia Britannica典或歷史家Thucydides「文獻」中所埋伏的謠言。但如果極小心地從河馬名子下經過數百年編輯者增減後的Illiad 與Odyssey去篩選出可能與真實有關的句子, 又大量地檢驗發掘的實物,我們還可以獲得點滴的訊索。這也是為什麼在中國文獻的世界,版本學是那麼一個不可忽略的大門檻!

  再回到商朝歷史:雖然「古代文獻」並沒有提到商代王朝殘酷的行為,連甲骨文的片段記載也不透露當代統治群對人民或動物生命之毫無尊重,然而挖掘出來的考古文物充分地敘述出了一個不虧於埃及王朝的多階級社會與專權機制的社會。

  以上的例子是「大騙子」冰山的極小顛峰而已。各種「歷史」記載,尤其關於聖人的傳記,(如同耶穌或佛陀之生平歷史)都是為後來執政者的方便或需求而完全製造出來的。可惜的是:幾千年的各種信者都一代一代地位這些偽造歷史犧牲了無數的生命。嗚呼哀哉!在此我強力建議年輕學者視「古代文獻」如同佈雷區,搖及小心地進行「應證」。 最好先檢驗實物,加上不同的比較以便獲得直接的訊息,進而能一步一步地對拿實物、其實帶風格、習俗等來建構一個較可靠的假設或推論。如果我一代一代繼續重複(某時代的)古人所製造出的謠言或更變的「歷史」,我們到今天還相信謠言而真史則永遠埋在「假作」之下。的確,至今還有許多人相信迷諾王及其王朝曾是一個如同埃及、兩河或商朝那種暴君制度。

  當然,華人經常自騙的例子也不少,他們也同樣地以文獻大權威來自欺,甚至於大膽地利用文字的權威來欺騙天子。我已在《沒有大師的藝術史》一篇,可以看到清朝宮廷畫家欺騙乾隆皇帝的兩個案子。可想應有其他無數的例子吧!

  地球上的其他生物尚未製造出騙自己、騙別人的「文獻經驗膜」,也都遠比人類有原始而自然產生的智慧、有自我生存和與萬物共存的經驗。它們不以文宣煽動同夥與另一物群決戰,也不破壞其所生存的環境。當地震、洪水降臨前它們早已靈敏地逃逸,而我們卻還緊盯著電腦螢幕並且深陷於文獻的淤泥漩渦中、無法解脫。其實文獻常含著不準確的紀錄、狹隘的觀念、不徹底的「研究」。我們對待文獻的態度,應該如同在布雷區行進,是必須經過小心翼翼地檢驗,而且只能將之做為補充用的次要參考。在此強調的不是拋棄文獻,而是謹慎地,具有一手經驗後,以智慧性與判斷力來充分運用之。換言之,研究絕不能被文獻所帶領,而相反地、是知道如何來運用文獻,把它當參考工具來用。

文字的侷限

  文字非自然現象本身,而是如同化學物:對人、對大自然萬物同時具有正負兩面作用的人造物。由它衍化而成的文獻無法像自然界中的萬物一樣能夠被眾生同時體驗並共同感知。文字是經過三次「轉車」的間接符號:透過造聲、賦形,再不斷地賦予詮釋或誤導的價值標記。如同貨幣不能代表食物、文字也不能取代食品的味道與質感,遑論形而上的精神現象。當文獻逐漸變成了一層人工的概念膜以後,使用它的人類便逐漸拒絕與大自然直接相處,反而以此不透光的概念膜作為隔斷自己和大自然真象之間的介面,以及人們彼此間的介面,從而隔絕了活生生的直接體驗與經驗。一昧地依靠觀念與傳說、卻懷疑著真實體驗,不亦悲乎?

  宇宙包括人類心靈現像是無限的,活的,它會引起我們「體驗性的感知」(Φαινομαι,phenomenon)。文字則是有限,無生命,不啟發經驗的。我們必須再透過思考和概念來獲得「頭腦性的瞭解」(Νουμενο, noumenon)。二者之差異是絕對的。

  人類當經驗生命中最密切─進入永恒無限領域─的精神現象時,不用思考模式,而透過以無形的直感。如同萬物,都用各自的感官去體會宇宙共用的「全通」震動,而由直接體會、立刻反應的自然能量來表現與傳達形而上、只能從感官出發幷只能由感官吸收的「一手經驗」(primary experience)。換句話說,心靈世界無侷限的感受是不能用文字來傳達的。

  文字能充分地叙述二手、三手「概念」,但不能取代一手「體會」與一手「經驗」。因此心靈的感通經驗都以直接的方式來表達:音樂、舞蹈、繪畫和塑形的「左腦」世界所形成的「無言詩」。 [3] 直接啟動聽覺、視覺、感覺來體會啟發共同感知的一手心靈經驗。這些元素被文明社會歸納成「宗教」與「藝術」,也就是本次研討會所立基的考古學與藝術史之所在。考古出土墓葬品與公私收藏中的傳世品既是我們研究的對象,同時也是精神世界與自然現象的交流經驗幷且最形而上却最具體的精神表現。

  令人質疑的是,當學術界在研究這些一手經驗的心靈產品時,往往以大量的二三手文獻為依據。大部分的學者僅憑藉文獻概念或傳說來「認識」與「命名」考古發掘品,或者依賴收藏記載、標題、印章、題跋在美術館裏進行書畫鑒定。這不但偷懶、不負責,也肯定會犯錯,並將誤導後人。

  心靈的溝通必須超越文字概念─即大腦思考模式─而回到與宇宙顫蕩共鳴的元素:色彩、聲音、以及大自然節奏之中的舞蹈。這種表現也成為了「宗教」最强有力的溝通工具!我們在探討這類精神性藝術品及埋葬品時,必需先以「全然空無」毫無成見的心靈本身來「體會」並「體驗」原物,然後才到書桌前參考文獻或文字報導。第一手觀察、檢查、再觀察及再體會的經驗過程,是考古、藝術學者不能忽略的第一重要過程與首要責任。不能完全透過文獻繞圈子,而「子曰如此,余亦曰如此如此」。繼承上一代的錯誤、又以威權的方式將迷糊、錯誤的假歷史傳到清白的下一代,其實一點不值得我們驕傲。

  不充分地運用自身一手經驗來「研究」所面對的一手心靈產品,雖然是無心之過,卻也是一種嚴重的罪惡,因為它能造成極大的浪費。例如例如乾隆皇帝為了乾隆皇帝為了當一個被漢人喜愛、全然漢化的「文人」皇帝,便盡量蒐集漢人傳統所最愛的『古』書畫。然而即使他曾學習中國書畫多年,幷具相當程度的鑒賞力,却囿于文字及概念的强大控制力,以致搜集了無數當代工匠所偽作的「古書畫」,繼承至今日的故宮收藏。

  身為藝術史學的研究者,如果先憑文獻等外在元素來「鑒定」書畫或詮釋出土器物,都可能會染上上述的「繞圈病」和「文獻疫」而使真相無法揭露。吾等皆應自我警惕!

______________________

註:

[1]即使我們承認,《史記》到今天的國家白皮書或媒體報導─那些被撰寫、被發行、上檔的歷史著作─幾乎全部代表統治者的看法與記憶。也就是說,世界上大部分名為「某國歷史」的著作,充其量只是「占某國人民極小比例的少數統治階層」之紀錄。我們不知道紀錄者所記錄的內容是否都言之有據,或是在仔細研究、探討之後才忠實地記錄下來。因此,完全基於文獻資料的歷史著作未必能夠名實相符。司馬遷雖然為後世讀者留下了他那本驚人的偉大啓蒙之作(seminal work)《史記》,然而它的內容主要是《古今諸家奪權記錄》,因此顯非華夏廣大人民的共同歷史。然而因為司馬氏書名之誤導,以致兩千年來華夏民族史一直無法擺脫「從各代霸主的角度詮釋一切」的迷思。

[2] “There is a fair and fruitful island in mid-ocean called Crete; it is thickly peopled and there are nine cities in it: the people speak many different languages which overlap one another, for there are Achaeans, brave Eteocretans, Dorians of three-fold race, and noble Pelasgi. There is a great town there, Cnossus, where Minos reigned who every nine years had a conference with Jove himself.” Homer (紀元前8世紀),The Odyssey, Book XIX, trans. Samuel Butler. 註:英譯者還是用時代較近羅馬人的拉丁文稱呼Jove,而與原來希臘文的名字Zeus已表現(太長的文化)距離。

[3] 唯一能表達宇宙心靈經驗幷具有絕對、永恒價值的人造符號,只有數學與音樂符號。它們在二度空間「寫出」宇宙的N度空間之無限能量及其無限的運作,因此直接蘊含絕對、不走樣也不會被誤解的「全通」價值。

在我台灣生命裡的漢寶德 —由台北、新竹到台南 翻譯:羅時瑋

原載:阿尾的落地窗 我與漢寶德初識於1981年除夕夜,那時我家樓上鄰居童虎一家人邀我全家一起慶祝。童先生當時是新竹科學園區管理局副局長,正負責園區的規劃與設計; 而我那時服務於加拿大英屬哥倫比亞的大維多利亞美術館,正進行為時一年的故宮博物院古畫鑑定研究,同時也在台大兼課,就住在長興街與童先生為鄰。 當時根本沒料到我後來竟然辭去美術館工作,而留在台灣繼續我的研究。那時童先生邀我給些點子,吸引在歐美已有成就的科技公司來台成立研發部門。

三十年前的台灣還處在低度開發狀態,為了吸引科技族的太太或成長中學童的媽媽,我建議園區應該要有綠蔭環抱的環境,設有網球場、泳池與騎馬設施,還要有高級餐廳與糕餅店、美容按摩沙龍、全區安全的單車道、或甚至騎馬路線。最重要的是要有一所步行距離內的優質雙語學校,可以對那些國外出生並受教育的孩子,提供不中斷的良好教育,並有機會學中文與中國文化。最後,為了讓那些在羅徹斯特或伯恩擁有家園的科技族絕對難以抗拒,我向童虎建議興建一處直升機坪,可運送園區住家外出購物或娛樂—這是他們原來生活中缺少的便利。我與童虎為了這園區計畫案經常一起討論,加上我們兒子同在士林美國學校就讀,所以我們兩家決定一起出外過除夕,也就在這晚上我首度遇見漢寶德。

台北初遇漢寶德伯伯
他外表英俊,談吐幽默,但又顯得持重老成。 那晚他跟我們聊到對一件博物館建築競圖案的不滿,有個參選案子為大部分展覽空間設計了大片玻璃窗,完全違背博物館需要氣候控制的基本原則,所有展出物件將受日照威脅而受損。漢寶德堅持這案不夠格該被淘汰,但最後投票結果竟然選出這個案子,而他還是評審召集人。經過這次教訓,漢寶德決定若下一次參與競圖評審,他要建議業主先僱用三家未參與的建築師事先過濾所有參選案子,先淘汰那些違反基本原則的案子,這樣可以節省時間並提升品質。

後來他參加競圖評審時就如此要求,以為就不會有太差案子出現。但還是讓他懊惱萬分,又是很差的案子贏得競圖。 他搖著頭無奈笑說:「你能想像我的感受嗎?又一次在我手上決定一個沒價值的建築設計。」我們一同嘆息,墜入沉默。我咆哮說為什麼我們竟讓這些惡質設計傷害未來的使用者,我說要讓壞建築師受到懲罰,因他們的設計會產生長遠傷害—不停的內部噪音、溼氣、黝暗,或展示品因光害而變色。

寶德溫和地中斷我的話,向我說出他的口頭禪:「唉!小虎啊!你到了我這個年紀你就會懂了!世界不是那麼簡單哪!」突然,他讓我想起我去逝的爸爸—徐道鄰,他也常在政府中做事,對抗一批「小人」。「啊!漢先生,我敬佩您,也喜愛您的精神。未來若有任何事情我可以效勞,請讓我知道。我將為您工作,用我生命幫助你!」我向寶德深深鞠躬,相信他是屬於我父親那一代的人物。

那晚情景深深在我心中留下烙印,我離開中國社會三十多年已漸減弱的「忠孝」意識,在我心中重新燃燒起來。寶德成為我的偶像,即使此後我很久沒再見到他。那晚之後我曾想過,為他工作或與他一起工作,也許會像是與父親工作一樣—我來不及好好認識的父親,青年時即失去他,使我強烈渴望要讓父親驕傲與快樂。

好多年後當台中科博館同事慶祝寶德的六十大壽,我受邀參加時才大吃一驚:「我跟漢伯伯原來是同一年生的,都是屬狗的!」但這幾乎十五年來,這位同年一直以理所當然的態度接受我給他那種對老長輩的尊敬與鞠躬,他即使沒有偷偷地笑我笨,而我可是氣死了!

主持科博館時的漢寶德
在牛津與墨爾本待過七年之後回到台灣,我任教於新竹的清華大學,那時寶德正在台中負責眾所矚目的國立科學博物館第二期的興建。1992年有一天我特別下台中造訪他,看他有多愛他的新職位。「新職位?我在這裡好多年了!我們早就開始這第二期工程!」他讓我看他的計畫與模型,後來帶我到樓下已開張的博物館餐飲部,裡面幾張桌子已坐滿館內員工,當他們見到我們時,全都站起來,像是迎接皇帝駕到一般。「寶德,這是怎麼回事?你說,你在這裡已那麼多年,你跟同事還保持那麼遠的距離!」

寶德決定我們到外頭用餐,我們走出博物館,在博物館對街上選擇一家小館子。我們進到燈光暗淡的店內,在角落有一群人立刻站起,又是博物館員工啊?我們找了離他們遠一點的桌子坐下,但是那群人其中一位走過來鞠躬,並悄聲說他家人來參觀他工作的地方,他帶他們來用餐。後來,當寶德結帳時,櫃檯告訴他剛才那位職員已為我們埋單了。寶德只能搖頭。我為我的朋友如此孤單而感到悲哀。依我在美國與加拿大的博物館工作經驗,我知道為了經營效率,管理階層與職員必須在緊密和諧與會心幽默中攜手工作。我規勸寶德:「你是說這些年你都沒有以朋友相待你的職員嗎?你沒在科學中獲得新見解、或從你的職員中學到以前不知道的宇宙趣聞?」他沉默地看著鞋尖,我猜到他從未到同事家中造訪或聚餐,也從未邀過同事到他住處。

這真可怕!」我後來說:「你需要一個中間人,一位你所信任的、又熱愛科學、與人友善的人。我正好認識這樣的人,他應會是你的超級副館長,他能將你的單調生活變成更溫暖愉快!」這人就是李家維,清華大學分子與細胞生物學研究所教授,當時擔任劉兆玄校長的主任秘書。那時清華大學剛成立藝術中心,我因為是中心的主任,常跟校內各種規定奮戰,激怒各單位職員,這時劉校長只是安排家維來調停我與任何職員之間的衝突。這樣讓我能夠張羅一些有創意的展覽與音樂會,帶給大家許多歡樂。家維那時已蒐集各種的化石與海洋貝殼、以及活的植物,他家就是一座生動的自然科學博物館,佔據家裡中心位置的是超大的綠色蕨類植物,訪客還必須繞過它走動。 他曾經向我吐露說,希望自己在五十五歲時能在博物館工作。現在正是時機,雖然距離他五十五歲還早一些。但對家維來說,這是多麼理想的職位—去溫暖與活化科博館內館長與職員間的彆扭氛圍。

後來我在藝術中心主持一項極精彩的黑白攝影展,關於放射蟲的單細胞微生物,由科博館的年輕科學家葉貴玉與程延年拍攝,他們正研究這些放射蟲的類型與分佈,以計算地球表殼特殊區域的年齡。 展出這些照片與借助放大鏡來看一些微小的放射蟲標本,使我們的展覽將科學轉變為可親手操作的實況藝術,我們於是邀請寶德來清華參觀這展覽。我請家維擔任接待與導覽,但到了約定見面時候,我正在市區遇上塞車而動彈不得,家維急忙代為迎接寶德的座車。他倆在清華藝術中心相遇,立刻就互相喜歡對方,這之後就是大家所知道的發展了。

未辦成的科博館展覽—青銅時代的克里特生活
為了科博館的開幕,我籌劃一項大型生態展—「青銅時代的克里特生活」(與中國夏朝同時期),在這展覽中將足尺重現克諾索斯宮(Knossos)的一些房間和阿克羅提利(Akrotiri)的某些房間,加上耀眼白光與海上風浪吹拂過橄欖枝椏的清新音籟。這種氛圍式的光線與聲音會隨著人們走過展區而變大或變小。我說服曾因「星際大戰」獲奧斯卡獎的設計家哈利藍吉(Harry Lange)加入,一起到雅典考察阿克羅提利(山多里尼)與伊拉克流(克里特),俾有利於展覽的設計。為了節省協商版權及保險的費用與時間,我們自己拍攝當地一些物件與壁畫,希望將它們以逼真方式在科博館開幕展中呈現。我計畫只向克諾索斯及牛津的阿喜摩陵(Ashmolean)博物館商借很少的考古真品。我還與青銅時代克里特島考古學家擬定一項十座博物館合作的巡迴展覽計畫。

克里特島曾經發展出人類有史以來最高度的文明,同時也是最具生態意識的文明。漫步在這展覽中,台灣觀眾將不只是看到、還會感覺到這些美麗的古代人類對地球及生物所抱持的深刻敬意。這是空前絕後的文明,沒有城牆,沒有強大軍隊,那裡的「皇冠室」比外邊的儀典空間還要低下,那裡的神聖密室只是一個小房間,位在地面下,得經過層層迴轉的樓梯通達,神聖又隱密,像是子宮,而不是高聳公共又政治的空間。

後來我到美國華盛頓特區史密森國家歷史博物館,我將哈利藍吉的草圖與計畫給策展人們過目,他們都很驚喜。有一人激動地說:「Joan!這就是我們這裡一直想做的「實體互動展示」(living and touching exhibition),去創造一種氛圍式身心環境!假如你們真能在台灣實現,我們願意向漢館長借展,經由史密森移動展覽服務機構的安排,到美國巡迴展覽。一路上每一站展出將付給台灣科博館至少12萬美金,需要扣除一些開銷,但還沒計算所有副產品的門市銷售呢!」有位很有經驗的史密森職員就坐下,按照藍吉初步估計的60萬英鎊複製與建築費用來計算總共成本。他們加上保險、裝箱、公關、教育資料、每個展間特殊活動的3-D電腦虛擬影像、還有可能的電腦遊戲等成本,總共是350萬美金。我當時為他們的熱心而欣喜若狂,高興地想著台灣的展覽可以輸出到美國—關於歐洲文明的大地之母;也可能輸出到歐洲,因為西班牙已聽到展覽消息而正在詢問展期。這可使台灣科博館顯得多麼精采優雅,多麼地幹練與慷慨啊!

實際上漢寶德經常問我,為什麼不籌備一項每個人都知道的古典希臘的展覽?為什麼辦一個這裡沒人聽過的古代克里特展?我不斷回答他,這地球正在災難中,台灣尤其蔓延著製造垃圾的消費主義,現代人需要知道其實存在著一種健康優美的另類生活方式。希臘人直接關聯到歐洲人的父性直覺,導向後來的工業革命與資本主義,他們循著直線的理論,而這種理論並不存在於自然中。但兩千年前的克里特人是歐洲意識的母性那一面,他們知道去榮耀自然,與土地和諧相處,他們從不像驕傲的希臘人那樣地「比上帝還聰明」。

幾個月過去了,寶德再度問起我:「你說過那預算是多少啊?」我說:「三百五十萬—美金!」「啊呀!小虎啊!—我以為你說的是台幣啊!我們哪裡有三百五十萬美金的預算哪!」那麼,在所有平面圖與各種圖面都已完成,就在藍吉工作室的物件製造要開動的前一刻,我們叫停所有進一步行動。至今我還保存著哈利的藍圖。

國立台南藝術學院
過一陣子寶德又說:「小虎,你這個怪人回來了!你來看看教育部要我在南部辦的一個藝術學校!你覺得怎麼樣?」他從書架上取出一疊空照圖,顯示茂密樹林中一潭美麗的湖水。「這基地美極了!」我說:「在科博館正式開幕後你要去做這件事?」他嘆口氣:「唉!他們一直要我做這事已經問了八年了!但我想預算正縮水,台南又熱得要命。再說,我們在台灣已經有四個藝術學院了。」「這不應是我們的考量」我說:「而是,我們應該問:現有的機構是怎樣的水準?它們是否缺少某種活力,而新的藝術學院是否可能提供這種活力?」我建議讓我到台北四個藝術學院勘察一番,再回來向他報告。我邀清華藝術中心的能幹又有創意的大助手與伙伴張蕙蘭同行,花一天時間走遍台北四校,它們與我1980年代台大時期記憶相較,似乎沒改變太多,像大部份台灣的大學,它們顯得格局不大,正需要一種全球性的意識。

所以我向漢寶德建議繼續規劃未來的台南藝術學院,並催促他開始進行校舍與校園設計,還有課程規劃。開始時只設研究所,每一所設五位職員,我問寶德他最想要的是怎樣的研究所類型,好讓我在全世界朋友中幫忙找到每一學科最好的教師來,如此每一所可有五分之一教師是外國籍,來自世界各地。我們可以特別去找到對教學與創作的熱忱高於追逐金錢或權力的教師,那麼我們或可從中國傳統官僚體制的腐敗自私中解放出來,而成為一群真正的教師!我們於是可以生產出一群富有公民意識與全球責任感的學生,他們將帶領台灣更愛惜與關懷自己這美麗但生病的島嶼。

寶德卻很猶豫。他已經花太多時光在公部門服務,遠離他個人的建築事業。他覺得倦怠,尤其他要應付很多政府會議,要為實現他的任務去爭取預算,他要應付許多他不認同的政府官員。他的美麗、智慧又活潑的妻子—蕭中行,也是他的伴侶、摯友與司機,尤其反對他再接任公務。她說,夠了,夠了!讓我們共度餘年,一起享受、去看我們孩子、四處旅行、去做我們多年來想做卻沒空去做的事。

很好的勸告,的確。寶德開始時也接受了。一年過去了,他對台南藝術學院沒有更多進展。我從清華寫信問他怎麼了?他說出他的理由,我於是說:「看,我們離六十五歲退休還有三年,在這三年中我們能做些偉大而漂亮的事,在文化上讓台灣進步,或許還教育出更好的公民。我們可從國際視野來啟動,我們可促進台灣藝術作品更現代化,達到世界水準。」或許,那長達三頁半的信發揮效用,寶德立刻開始為台南藝術學院工作,首先開辦四個研究所:音像紀錄研究所、博物館學研究所、造型藝術研究所以及藝術史與藝術評論研究所。

周末我從清華回台北加入規劃工作,晚上就睡在辦公室—敦化北路與民權東路口的財政大樓十一樓,大樓屋頂成為寬廣的活動露台,我們的辦公室有三層,要走狹窄鐵梯上下。這裡可眺望遠山和松山機場起落的飛機。寶德將自己辦公室裝修得很有中國文人味,背後是成排的傳統手工線裝書,案前陳列文房四寶。

「我們開學後學校沒有廚房、沒有廚師、沒有足夠水電,還要學生暫住教師宿舍,學生們可能要造反,你既然這麼調皮,我想你很適合來擔任學務長!」1996年9月開學後不久,寶德笑笑地對我說。可是,我不想離開可愛的風城新竹的環境,那裡有舒服涼風、寶山水庫的月圓景色、還有我校內辦公室裡滑動書架與老樹近景。我尤其害怕潮濕少風的氣候。寶德於是激我:「啊!你看?你不願意離開你尊貴的清華,來屈就我們這窮鄉僻壤的學校!」

但讓我遷到台南的最大理由是我的罪惡感與責任感—由於我說動寶德放棄與心愛妻子共度時光的計畫。因為,如同晴天霹靂,香港傳來噩耗—蕭中行因為突發的腦部栓塞而昏迷,她作為妻子與母親的夢想乍然粉碎。在那要命時刻寶德正外出考察,中行遭受腦部劇痛襲擊時只有她妹妹在場陪伴,而中行再也沒醒過來。中行一向活力充沛,她的聲音如鈴鐺,常伴隨一串笑聲,她的眼睛因為愛而閃亮又慧黠,她用心幫寶德打理出安定有序的時間與空間,她照料他的健康,包辦他從領帶到襪子的裝扮。事實上在她生前,寶德完全依賴她;在他的事業上她處處與他分憂,也經常給予睿智的建議。她確實建議過—事後回想起來是正確的—與其來回奔波在台北、台中與台南之間,他們應一起享受離開科博館之後的自由,共享恩愛餘年。她的意外離去,真是非常殘酷的考驗。

現在寶德落單,失去了他的另一半。我對他的悲傷逾恆感同身受,我也自責若非我硬把寶德拉往台南創校,過去的兩年將會多麼不同。我記得站立黑暗中等候從香港運回的靈柩,那天濕冷,我的視野盡是無邊的灰暗。陪著我的是家維—已是科博館的副館長,和南藝籌備處主秘。我們的悲哀是那麼沉重,我們心痛如割,如同墜入深淵,無從著落。寶德站在那憂傷的永恆裡,我走向他,將我的頭埋在他胸前,失控地啜泣:「為什麼?為什麼是中行?為什麼是現在?」我只能哭問蒼天。「喔,寶德,我真對不起…」我心裡掙扎的是:「都是因為在南藝工作使得你倆過去數月分隔兩地,現在你永遠失去與中行共享生活的願望…」我不能理解、也無法接受中行的離去。 太殘忍了、不公平、完全沒道理…當中行的靈柩抵達,被放在禮壇上,奇怪的事情發生了,突然那地方變得光亮而美麗,好像中行來到我們中間。我不知道這如何發生,但暗淡的無邊慘霧變成了光明多采,中行的煥發氣息確實沒有完全離開我們。

但是對寶德失去他的核心生命力量,我所感受的悲傷與痛苦持續好長一段時間。最後我想通了,我告訴他:「我終於了解為什麼中行要離開大家,因為她已完成她的工作。現在該你學習自己倒咖啡、區分你自己的藥片和襪子,也許還要去學會開車。中行一直是完整的,你一直只是一半,現在是你學著成為完整的時候了。」然而,我心中萬分過意不去,我因此決定答應寶德的要求,辭去清華大學職務,到台南藝術學院擔任學務長,並遷進校園住下來,當時我們的坡頂校長公館還沒完成,寶德住在沿溪的教師宿舍裡,我要求分配到他隔鄰的宿舍,以便任何時候都可幫上忙。那可怕的罪惡感一直在我心中迴旋不去,直到許多年後寶德再婚,也變得更能料理自己,我感覺他生命獲得了新的平衡與快樂才逐漸釋懷。

湖邊餐廳
現在學生來了,每四到五人分配住到空著的教員宿舍,內部有廚房,可自行烹飪。座落在小人工湖邊的學院餐廳,光亮而優雅,有良好視野與內部佈置。 做為學務長我曾發言要求一個大吧台,學生與教師可以點些快餐與飲料而圍坐一起。「啊,你想到酒吧,你這酒鬼?!」寶德這麼說我。雖然我相信好酒的教養效用,所有藝術家應學習優雅清醒地品酒,大學也該允許學生在餐廳一角喝酒作樂;但我要求一個四面吧台的想法,卻是觀察到像香港大學內類似空間帶來的民主與社交功能:人們可自由地坐下加入各方談話,因為大家會覺得是坐在同一吧台上。這使得各不同領域的教師可互相交換情報與共同關心的問題,透過這種輕鬆非正式的交流,有些重要決策非正式地在口頭上做出決定,可節省冗長的正式會議以及公文旅行。這只是一個特殊空間結構可節省時間的例子吧。

我們第一屆五十九位新生都願意承受校園未建完的各種苦境,也沒任何躁動的跡象。當較高區域缺水時,我就要求在公廁裝設淋浴設備以解決洗澡問題。但是我的另一番善意,卻意外地惹來學生抗議。

起先,我發現台灣稻米都有過度使用農藥的問題,查看校園四周的稻田時,我看到一片死水,沒有青蛙、蚯蚓,像鏡子般反映出靜止的天空。殺蟲劑殺死水中所有生物,這毒性也經由稻梗注入稻粒裡。天啊,我們一定不能讓這種米進入校園。 第二學期時學院餐廳即將完成,我們需要雇用一位廚師。正好寶德兒子從美國回來,大夥們一起被邀到省道上的一家商務度假飯店去聚餐。餐會中我看到一位廚師戴著高高白帽站著切出細緻的烤牛肉,以及讓人驚喜的烤鴨,兩者肉質都烤得好極了。一時興起,我說我們應該聘請這位廚師到學校為我們煮食,因他也做歐式料理,他可為我們餐廳供應非米食類餐點。「絕對不可能!」寶德嘲笑我:「沒人會放棄六星級廚師地位來為我們的五十九位學生作菜的,他永遠不會來到我們那鳥不生蛋的地方!」

「我卻來了,寶德!我從清華、從加拿大來到這,這就是為什麼我可以說動任何地球上你想要的人來這裡!」於是我走向切肉台邊的年輕人,跟他聊起來。這位了不起的何師傅,曾經花六年時間在日本學校學做歐式料理,當然他也會日本料理。「這樣吧,親愛的何師傅,你的創意在這裡太委屈了,只能每天每週地重複同樣菜單。」我耐心拉攏他:「來為我們學院工作吧,我們的餐廳跟廚房剛蓋好,你可以訂購你想要的烤爐,我會買給你。我想要你每天供應有機新鮮的蔬菜沙拉,用馬鈴薯來取代白飯。」他頗感興趣地回答說,他會做六種馬鈴薯料理:薯泥、烘烤、填料、快炒、油炸、清煮,加上各種醬汁。「啊,太棒了!加入我們哪,一起來發展你的未來!你要供應低於每人35元成本的餐點,又不要使自己吃虧。你將創造出健康、不含農藥的食物,我們也將集合所有附近有機農夫來提供他們的產品。」

出乎我們意料地,這位極端高明的何師傅同意來當我們的學院主廚,他服務那段時間裡提供了絕妙的烤肉,與日本料理如拉麵或烏龍麵。何先生也精於雕塑,以冰塊、紅羅蔔與小黃瓜雕出各種動物,很快地他成為本校國際雕塑大師與米蘭院士屠國威教授的好朋友,還成了他的用功弟子。

但是學生們現在卻群起抗議,他們都很憤怒—不是為停電或停水問題,而是因為我的馬鈴薯餐使他們整天都處在飢餓狀態。我解釋說我們希望保護他們不受毒米殘害。「我們吃了一輩子這樣的米飯,我們以後也將繼續吃!」他們憤怒叫喊。寶德止不住地笑我:「你終於自作自受了,哈哈!看你的長年素食!」

這是1996年到1997年初的一個年輕、成長中、帶點實驗性的校園群體的幸福時光,同時也漸清楚看到台灣已是地球上毒害最深的地方之一。有些農人農藥用量已超過美國最高用量的百倍以上,難怪台灣的癌症罹患率居高不下,甚至出現年輕化趨勢。但台灣人喜歡以「每個人都這樣做」來自求安慰,以為如此事情就是對的。

在幾乎三十年間,我與寶德為知己朋友,後來還成為他的屬下,我可能是唯一敢冒犯他、敢堅持說真話的人,也就是他的忠臣、諫臣,這是考驗他耐心的職位,而我的激烈犯諫還惹出他的心臟肥大問題。這是我們自願為各自信念所付出的代價,我們倆為各自設想的南藝最佳利益而奮戰。他從不是一位自以為是的官員,因此我們之間的尖銳歧見從未傷及我們的友誼,也未曾減少我對他的欽佩之情—對於他的嚴格標準以及他與所有美好精緻事物的驚人關聯。國家文藝獎的公開獎勵與台大頒授榮譽博士學位,都是對寶德在國內地位的難得肯定。恭喜了,寶德!

何謂書畫斷代?

何謂書畫斷代?

徐小虎

中國書畫創造、模仿以及偽造,至今已有近兩千年的歷史。至少從「書聖」王羲之(321-379)的時代就已有人偽做其書作。歷代的文獻都談到贗品的嚴重問題,但是至今仍未能找出一個比較客觀而廣受認同的方法論來解決這個華人文化遺產中的痼疾或「癌症」。

紐約大都會博物館在1999年曾經舉辦過一場轟動一時的國際研討會,邀集全世界的中國書畫研究名家,針對《傳董源溪岸圖》的真偽進行論辯。結果雖仍無定論,但是已引起世人對中國書畫研究的注意,甚至懷疑「中國書畫史」是否夠格被視為一個學門。

中國大陸的學者近二、三十年來積極地進行各種書畫鑑定工作,也有相當數量的成果報告出版;甚至公開講授「鑑定課程」,以極高的報名費招收學員,其中不乏收藏家、藝品商和外國學生;授課內容包括各種鑑定細節,如文獻、各代紙絹的特徵、印章的刀法與其真假、題跋內容、創作者落款的筆法和年代等等。這樣的教法其實只是把中國自古以來的傳統鑑定方法以比較有系統的方式公開,其目的也僅為辨別真偽而已,它對書畫史本身並無明顯貢獻。但是,我們必須知道,即使最縝密的傳統鑑定法也都一直無法突破贗品遠多於真跡的困境。這個悲劇到底是如何地形成的呢?在探討這個問題之前,讓我們先來看看華人在書畫蒐藏方面的典型「症狀」:
1. 收藏家一旦有錢就想要買書畫作品以「附庸風雅」。
2. 書畫收藏在傳統的富有人家是社會地會的一種表徵,因此具有社會性競爭 的意涵,每人都想盡辦法想要買到別人買不到的大師名作。
3. 在蒐購過程如有機會選擇美雅而無名、或者未必美但有名的作品,他們通常會以名氣為主要考量。
4. 因應市場需要的書畫商努力搜購並為之促銷的,通常不是美雅高級的藝 術原作(即使小書畫家或無名氏),而是具有大師落款的作品。
5. 因此,自古以來贗品市場的熱絡一向遠高於真跡市場。
6.一旦贗品製造成為有利可圖的事業時,造假技術也日益高昇;大師的生平、文集、詩作、印章及題跋等,對鑑定家或收藏家來說,如同對造假工作坊一般,也都變成了與大師書畫原作風格一樣重要的參考資料和因素。

當敬重的前輩們在進行書畫鑑定之後,他們告訴你的往往只是「這不是真的」這一句話而已。或者,在兩、三件極為相同的作品中,他們會用銳利的眼光以及豐富的經驗來檢驗和比較,然後告訴你,「這張是原本,那張是模本」。但是在許多情況下,那件所謂的某大師的「原本」有可能與他活躍時的時代風格有著數百年的距離,更遑論其個人風格。這又是為什麼呢?因為華人進行鑑定工作時,不考慮西洋藝術史學所研發出來的最重要的研究工具:「時代風格」(period style)分析法。

在台南藝術學院的藝術史課程,不像一間珠寶店,陳列著一系列的「大師名作」並同時敘述該大師的生平小傳,如同博物館講解人員、被動性地介紹館內陳列品一般。對藝術史的問題探討來說,最重要且唯一要分析的元素就是作品本身。我們研究的是作品在時空的雙軌上,其內在的基本元素(即結構structure與型態morphology)如何演變。此內在元素的演變史,就是藝術史學的關鍵,也是比較踏實的藝術歷史,可成為斷代研究上最為客觀而最可靠的工具。

但是,目前國內外的學者專家大部分都還徘徊於考慮「真假之別」,卻對「假書畫」本身的製造時代與歷代假書畫的演變尚未有太大的興趣。很多都還緊貼著在書畫史中之「里程碑」大師的個人上,而不注意書畫藝術本身在該大師之前後風格連續的演變史。因此,到了二十世紀末,還是只能無力地堅持「此作品為五代大師董源所畫」,或「不對!那是二十世紀著名的仿造大師張大千先生畫的!」 他們幾乎不曾思考該書畫作品(不管傳說或落款)可能出自什麼時代。這是因為時代風格(包括整體的結構分析及母題的型態分析)這種研究方法與無成見的客觀態度在中國書畫史學當中仍未盡成熟,但是它是絕對不能缺乏的關鍵研究工具。

我們如果沒有培養出斷代的能力,就無法有把握地判斷出一件作品的創造或製造的時代,更遑論是否出於某大師之手!這也就是為什麼多半學者至今還必須先看作品旁邊的解說,或仔細讀其上落款的名字,而跟著說「那是某人作於某年某月的作品。」這樣不是從頭就已經落入陷阱了嗎?總之,沒有斷代的能力就不能知道書畫作品風格在歷史的長河中,一代一代演變的過程;這也是為什麼中國書畫史在國際藝術史學界中,還是一門那麼落後、那麼可笑又可悲的「學門」。

採用一個比較有用的書畫斷代方法

要想知道某個時代的風格特徵,就必須先蒐集許多該時代的真跡並一一檢視箇中內涵。遺憾的是在公、私收藏的「傳世品」中都沒有可靠的證據說明它們原來的創作時代,也就是說,「傳世品」絕大多數是有疑問的。因此,我們在檢驗某大師的作品時,最好能把它放在和它同時代的出土墓葬的壁畫旁邊來比較,或者參考從敦煌壁畫有記年的相關資料來作仔細的比較與結構、型態分析。這種以真跡來說明時代風格,又運用時代風格的特徵來檢驗傳世品的研究方法就是我們採用的,但也是蠻複雜且有難以預料的內在因素的一種活的工具,此即潘諾夫斯基Panofsky所謂被視為「惡性循環」(vicious circle)的測驗方法,其實是一個蠻有邏輯的呢!這就是說,一旦某一代的「時代風格」被很清楚地認識了,我們就能判斷該時代中的某大師名下的某件作品是否符合其時代風格,即是否能納入其真跡小組內。可是,每個時代的風格特徵都是需要從極多真跡的特徵裡慢慢distill「蒸餾」提煉出來的。換句話說,真跡與時代風格是兩個互相增加、互相應證的「未知數」,從我們目前學術水準與成就來看,如果能專心在斷代、鑑定這方面專心努力的話,我們還要蠻長的時間才能達到一個如同西洋繪畫史學門一般的清晰度。

我們發現在檢驗某一位大師的書畫作品時所採用的方法,每次都得依個案而作調整,可能需借重某一部分或再加上其他新的考量。目前每個案子的過程都有其不同。譬如,尋找元代大畫家吳鎮(1280-1354)的真跡和找出沈周(1427-1509)的原作,這兩個研究的性質與過程就有極大的差異。冒著吳鎮名字的造假人中最有影響力的一位(即收藏於上海與華府的兩幅《漁夫圖卷》、美國著名的《風竹圖》的藝術家「甲手 ,Hand A),他的活躍時代大約比吳氏至少晚了150年,相當於明代正德、嘉靖年間。而最被現代學術界稱讚的、收藏於台北的《墨竹譜》則為一件典型新創的、與大師的原作風格、人格無關的清朝「造假工作坊」所製作的一種劣質、缺乏藝術價值的「累積品」(accretion)。更荒謬的,它是由卷本和冊頁合併起來的。那時的造假工匠早已經不認識吳鎮的真面貌,而是學習那位風流而具有新創和想象力的明人「甲手」的作品,因該贗品在明朝一出爐便立即發生「真跡作用」(functional authenticity)。也因此,在尋找吳仲圭名下的真跡時,具有元朝繪畫的結構、型態與風格的作品佔極少數,而大多數則反映了明代中期到清朝中旬的現象。整體而言,若與認定吳鎮真跡與找出沈周的原作這兩項研究相較,找出吳仲圭原跡是比較容易做到的研究。

相對的,在檢驗沈周的作品時,我們發現有相當多的贗品都來自同時的明朝前半期。有些繪畫或書法作品甚至於比沈氏自己的要更好、更美、更整齊和乾淨!此舉則牽涉到另一層次的研究困難度:要在同時代、使用同樣的紙、筆、墨、色彩的繪畫作品中找出只出於沈周之手的原作,不但要熟練地運用我們對沈氏活躍時期中的時代風格(結構和型態)特徵的認知,也必須強化對沈石田氏本人的性格、情緒、用字等的熟悉。如此我們發現了活躍於沈周同時的贗品、甚至於比沈周繪畫、書寫得更精彩(更「專業」)的贗品,但是它們都缺乏沈氏個人的獨有特徵,意即都不符合沈氏在用筆、力道、重量和速度方面的特徵。這些因素都牽涉到沈石田的「心印」:他的心靈和他對生命的基本態度。從這項研究我們發現,不同於懸盪約150年的吳鎮的情況,沈周這位名人的書畫贗品在他活躍的時代就已經大量地產生了。

此時,也就是說我們達到能夠對作品本身的研究告一段落的時候,才開始第一次打開書籍來參考文獻,也就能從中發現對我們的瞭解、或疑問有所印證的文獻:沈石田在世時,冒其名而賣畫者的確甚多。我們把文獻這項工具視為充滿了陷阱潛能的研究工具,它是我們必須對作品本身進行過相當完整的檢驗之後才能開始面對的。書畫史之未能如同西洋繪畫史一般進步的原因,極大因素就是文字(包括名字、落款、印章、傳說及收藏目錄等)對我們所造成的成見、先見和偏見。一旦自己已經在作品上有了把握,文字和文獻就能正面地來答覆那些真正關鍵而且是由書畫作品本身所引起的疑問。這與首先讓文獻提供我們某種概念或信任的「學習」傳統是大不相同的。

如果能找到某大師的真跡原作,那真是一件值得慶祝的大喜事。但是,我們見到的某大師名下的大部份作品通常都是後人模仿或新創的「累積品」(accretions)。因此書畫史研究者的責任,不但是找出大師的真跡、接著列出其獨自的特徵,而且也包括在找出真跡的過程中應順便完成的龐大工作,即把那些後加的、極大多數的「贗品」及「累積品」,仔細地歸納入其各個不同的製造時代。

在這種研究過程中,我們發現贗品因為是來自不同的時代,所以能幫助我們分別出一個朝代中的若干(因其他大師真跡或墓葬壁畫的演變而形成的)段落。它們彼此不同的特點與性質:在結構、型態,甚至於在用筆,長達三百年的明朝或清朝,都能在風格演變上反應出不同的特徵。換句話說,要找出某大師的真跡,我們必須對其時代特徵有所瞭解;而一旦找出了真跡,我們又能因此對該時代的特徵再給予相當多的補充或修正。因此,懂得時代風格的結構與型態分析能為我們在初步認定真跡的過程中有極大的幫助。但是,一旦蒐集了一組符合該時代風格、結構特徵的某大師落款的作品後,第二步就是從那組作品中檢查到底有沒有該大師本人的原作。

這又是更進一步的研究過程了。在此時,我們在符合時代風格的作品中找出構圖最自然、筆墨最佳的作品,暫時定之為「大師原作」,而再加以更仔細的分析,看這些暫訂為原跡的作品中彼此有沒有同樣的、獨特的─足以讓我們歸為大師之個人習慣的─構圖、用筆及筆觸等各種特徵。一旦在這些小組內的作品中發現了從年輕到衰老,這些小組內的作品都具有彼此同樣的個人特徵,而其他作品(即小組以外的同代作品)卻都沒有,我們就知道大師的真跡終於找到了幾件。有了大師的真跡,我們就應該馬上從頭再來檢驗剛才所運用的時代風格的條件:我們當時對其時代風格曾有過誤解嗎?哪些誤解可以於此改正?在目前能報告的是,的確,我們對時代風格的瞭解,幾乎對每一代的預測都不對,都有驚人的「時差」。也就是說,我們對每一代的風格的心理準備或預測都太「摩登」了。因此,每當某大師的真跡水落石出時,我們總是發現,該大師原來是「那麼地保守!」這就指出了我們目前對各大師的認知都來自極大多數後人所造的贗品和累積品,導致學者能把吳鎮唯一存世的墨竹真跡《竹石圖》(1347)視為「一件例外的作品」。

譬如說,一旦找著了明朝十五世紀中旬以來和十六世紀早期沈周所作的書畫真跡,再找出其弟子唐寅(1470-1523)與文徵明(1470-1559)在十六世紀早、中期的真跡之後,我們就能夠很肯定地說:「所謂的典型元朝空間與地平面一致的延伸這個特色,一旦進入明朝洪武之恐怖環境,雖然繪畫中有突出的壓迫感(包括前後景距離似乎突然有所萎縮),但在明朝早期一直到沈周之歿(1509),仍然多少還有在地平面上往後一致地延伸之狀況。」回顧沈周的真跡,看起來都相當「保守」、都多少保留著一種(與其贗品相比時)引人注目的「元朝繪畫氣氛」。

談到這裡,我們就有必要調整前人對明代初年時代風格的瞭解:明朝繪畫一直到十六世紀初還充滿著許多元代繪畫的空間結構的因素,而非如大多數學者所想像的那麼「前進」、那麼地沒有空間或水份、那麼地「前景蓋著中景,中景蓋著後景」,以兩三層垂直面往後疊的狀況。就此明白,那種的確缺乏透視的「典型明朝」的結構,整個十五世紀都還是看不見的,而是在十六世紀中晚期才開始出現。但是沈周在一生的繪畫裡所表達的的結構型態及風格都是與元朝繪畫風格息息相近的。

拿整個時代來作一個「沒有大師的藝術史」

當我們面對某一個有極多真跡原作的時代時,如果清朝康熙、雍正及乾隆時代的朝廷用具、服裝、陶瓷漆器以及版畫、書畫卷軸冊都能從北京來台展出時,我們就能以諸多可靠的作品來作一個籠統的時代結構、型態風格的歸納。在這種情形之下,一旦某個時代的特徵能被辨識出來,我們就能夠把該時代製造出的各種贗品認識出來。以同樣的方法我們運用乾隆時代的作品所呈現的風格特徵,也找出若干所謂隋、唐、宋、元、明的大師的贗品多張,也因此發現了乾隆皇帝對漢人「文人畫」傳統的熱愛與無知,又因此而受騙的情形。此種研究方法的結果不僅收穫豐富而且非常有用。歡迎讀者參加筆者個人網站中所載的研究與討論。

圖檔:
1真跡 吳 鎮(1280-1354)真跡《竹石圖》(1347)台北故宮博物院藏
2贗品 HAND A(活躍約1500-1550) 《風竹圖》(1350)美國華府Freer Gallery收藏
3 累積品 HANDs X, Y, and A-1 (活躍約1700s)《墨竹譜》(1350)台北故宮博物院藏

見羊欣(370-442),《採古來能書人名》,中田勇二郎編中國書論大系,(1977-)。文中敘述了活動於晉穆帝時的一個名為張翼的人,非常擅於模仿他人的書法,他曾臨過一件王羲之作品假冒成真跡而沒有被檢驗出來。原文為「晉穆帝時,有張翼善學人書,寫羲之表,表出,經日不覺,後云『幾欲亂真』」。(頁153)。
請參見.Judith G. Smith and Wen C. Fong, eds., Issues of Authenticity in Chinese Painting, 320 pp. New York, The Metropolitan Museum,1999
譬如明代人的俗語說,人們判斷江南家戶的雅俗,是在於它們的收藏品中有沒有元代大師倪讚(1301-1374)的作品。而根據明代畫家沈周(1427-1509)說,他自己熱愛倪讚的畫,但一生僅見到四十件作品。可是值得注意的是,進入了20世紀,依著學者容庚於1948年的調查,倪讚作品已增達到376件了!今天可能又多高了。
“To correct the interpretation of an individual work of art by ‘history of style’, which in turn can only be built up by interpreting individual works, may look like a vicious circle. It is, indeed, a circle, though not a vicious, but a methodical one.” Erwin Panofsky, Meaning in the Visual Arts. London 1955. Penguin Reprint, New York: Doubleday, 1983. p.66.
請參考Joan Stanley-Baker, Old Masters Repainted, Wu Zhen (1280-1354): Prime Objects and Accretions. Hong Kong. 1995. Hong Kong University Press 270 ff.
請參考〈中國繪畫中的贗品〉《洞悉》網站: HYPERLINK “http://art.tnca.edu.tw/joan/index.htm” http://art.tnca.edu.tw/joan/index.htm
Joan Stanley-Baker, Old Masters Repainted. Op cit. pp 297-355.
Vide supra. Op cit. pp. 4,9,10, 35-37, etc.
請參考徐小虎,〈沈周「黃公望《富春山居圖卷》無用師本題跋」真偽再探:鑑定方法上的若干問題〉《台灣美術》53號 台中2003.7, 國立台灣美術館。84-97頁
請參考本所蘇盈龍著,《沈周山水畫風格之探真》,國立台南藝術學院藝術史與藝術評論研究所碩士論文。台南2003年。(未出版)。
請參考徐小虎,〈文獻的霸權必須全罷〉《洞悉》

如此地進行研究幾十年,可以說找出了幾位大師的真跡。放在贗品旁邊,它們的確讓人竦然起敬。從型態和筆墨運用,都能見到大師的心靈最深處,而其超越性把中國水墨藝術帶上了一個國際上無敵的表達成就。
Sungmii Lee Han. Wu Chen’s Mo-Chu-p’u: Literati’s Painter’s Manual on Ink Bamboo. 普林斯頓大學博士論文。1983. (未出版)。
《2003大清皇朝北京故宮博物院盛代菁華展》於2003年從二月到八月連續展出於高雄市立美術館,台中港區藝術中心、台北國立國父紀念館。
參考〈沒有大師的藝術史〉“Art History Without Names”載於作者之網站
洞悉Authentic Art Experience.

中國繪畫贋品研究方法論

徐小虎, 中國繪畫贋品研究方法論(英1986,中2002)

英文原版 ‘Forgeries in Chinese Painting’ 出版於Oriental Art 1986, (Spring): 54-66

*中譯版曾發表於2002年《藝術觀點——史評所專輯》第23期(七月刊) 國立台南藝術學院發行

中國藝術史的研究今日正處於一個更新、更寬闊也更具動態的臨界點上,歷史不再被視為是一組靜態的里程碑 ,而是一個彼此互動、持續變化的複雜關連網絡。這些關係很少建立在一對一的靜態基礎上,而較常發生在一 對多的變化與轉換過程上。變化不僅發生在「繪畫風格」上-即我們此處的研究主題,也標示著在每一代藝術 家、收藏家以及作偽者的眼中,其認知過程所具有的特性。

當中國書法與繪畫成了收藏的標的後,它們也變成學習與模仿的對象。西元四世紀時,書法藝術發展到 了顛峰期,成為藝術收藏中最高等的品類,而繪畫則緊次其後。約在此時,收藏本身成了一項精緻的藝 術:探討這兩種用筆藝術中的美、精神與技術的嚴肅論述開始增加,將藝術品按照優劣排列等級的系統 也出現了。也是在此一時期前後,作偽的藝術不僅變成有利可圖的行當,也成為一種具有正面性的行為 與仕紳們的休閒活動,他們以幾可亂真的技巧模仿當時的大師之作,來挑戰自己時代中眼力最鋒銳的鑑 定家。野心勃勃的人開始將自己的作品假冒為王羲之-這位在自己的時代便已被尊為書聖的書法家-所 作。[1]

自此,這種作偽運動與商業交易就逐漸興盛,至今未曾中斷過。E.Zurcher在1955年時針對此一事 實發表了一篇嚴謹的論文:<中國書畫中的模仿與作偽>(Imitation and Forgery in Chinese Painting and Calligraphy )。[2] 他發現,雖然米芾(1052-1107)與趙希鵠(約1250)認為唐代的作品極少有真跡,更 遑論是唐以前的作品了,但在另一方面,徽宗的宮廷目錄中卻充滿了從遠古以來毫無根據的作品。Zurcher 說,幾乎如同對米芾此一懷疑論提出反駁一樣,後來者如鄧椿、湯垕等人的評論都表達出相當保守的看 法與傳統主義的反應,而此種保守、缺乏質疑性的態度一直持續到後來的明代與清代。Zurcher可能也暗 示了這種保守主義在今日還延續著,他引了趙希鵠《洞天清祿集》(約1250)中的一段話來提醒我們: 「古人遠矣!曹不興、吳道子(比較)近世人耳(約距五個世紀),猶不復見一筆,況顧(愷之)、陸 (探微,距此七個世紀)之徒,其可得見之哉?是故論畫當以目見者為準,若遠指古人曰:『此顧也, 此陸也。』不獨欺人,實自欺耳。」

顧與吳相距於趙希鵠的時間,和南宋與明初大師距離我們的時間是一樣的長。在為一位離我們這麼久的 藝術家定出其可信的作品,並為它們建立起周遭的背景脈絡時,我們所做的正是藝術史家的主要工作。 許多著名的學者在學術討論中常理直氣壯地對這種真偽問題的不時出現感到不耐,因為它打斷了梳理中 國藝術史的主要工作。他們很有理由地指出:(在當代學術上)從未有任何一次對真偽的討論曾讓任何 一個人信服。

這裡我再次將它提出,並不是因為我認為這是本領域中最重要的議題,而是因為我深信在中國書畫名作 尚未被徹底地研究、在它們每件的真實製造年代尚未被正確地歸結以前,對如此一群「可信作品」的定 義是缺乏任何基礎和意義的。

我覺得我們還沒開始去問正確的問題,並且尚未試圖去建立一個真正可行的分析系統。我認為,去了解 任何一位特定大師的作品的第一步,是去建立一個研究框架,一個能讓我們找出他的真跡-George Kubler 所謂的「Prime Objects」即無前例、由第一手「創造」出的作品-的框架,而由此框架更肯定地把他的真 跡辨識出來。而下一個步驟不僅是「贗品的辨識」,還要辨認出它們各自的製作時期,而如可能的話, 還有它們的流派來源。唯有以這種方式,藝術史學者才能將傳統上被接受為某一特定大師的所有作品組 織成一串時間/傳統的系列,並勾勒出其「面目」在後續世代中的演進與變化。那麼,在陳述了「這是一 件贗品」這種純粹的鑑定後,我們就會、而且也能說:「這是在十六世紀時對一件十五世紀作品的卑劣 模仿,而後者則是對一件十四世紀大師作品所做的具有創造性的偽作。」這個程序符合了日本學者在做 室町(Muromachi)藝術研究時的方法,也使我們更接近於藝術史的主要工作。
因此我請求讀者們忍耐一下,讓我再次仔細地檢查這個議題。但必須先聲明的是,我並不堅持我的研究 是絕對正確的,我盼望的是這個議題也許能在此一領域中獲得第二次的機會,並激發一些同仁去做冷靜 與系統性的重新思考。

關於中國書畫的作偽藝術與技術, Robert H. van Gulik 的《鑑賞家眼中的中國圖像藝術》(Chinese Pictorial Art as Viewed by the Connoisseur)[3]是相當有用的研究,其價值無可取代,對中國繪畫史的學生而言, 這當然是件必讀的作品。西方繪畫也未能避免中國書畫中的這種災難,但並沒有中國複雜的這種與收藏 和作偽普遍關連、與文人畫特殊關連的社會交錯性。Otto Kurz教授所寫的《贗品》(Fakes)[4]一書一 直是研究歐洲繪畫的經典作品,其他探討戰後偽作的專文也很多,而且每十年都持續會有作品出現。只 有在中國藝術史這個學術領域中,贗品或偽作這個課題才一直被有效地列為禁地;當然,它未曾被當作 中國社會裡的一種心理現象(如果不是一種必然性的話),也未曾在中國書法或繪畫史研究中被當成重要 的角色來進行徹底的探索。

1962年時,方聞在其<中國畫中的贗品問題>( The Problem of Forgery in Chinese Painting )[5]一文中,從一 個收藏者的觀點介紹了這個主題。文中列出了傳統的學習-複製方法,並舉出了例子:它們是臨(以徒手 來複製眼前的原跡)、摹(透寫複製)、仿(模仿,不必要有原跡在面前)、造(創造性的發明)。傅申 對這些傳統的方法做了更深入的詳細論述,其1977年的《筆跡》(Traces of the Brush)[6]一書可謂是研究 書法藝術與其問題的典範。他於此處加上了第五個複製步驟:刻帖(將書法刻在木頭或石頭上,以及後續 做出墨拓本)。對收藏家-鑑定家而言,確定他想要去擁有的這件作品是出自於大師親筆的真跡,是至關 緊要的事。基於這個原因,傳統的鑑定對這些可能的複製方法都瞭若指掌,並且能很快地將一件贗品剔除 掉。

然而,現代的藝術史家可能會關心相當不同的問題。他想要辨認藝術中的演進與變化過程,其不僅針對的 是一位特定大師的作品,也針對著歷經了數個世紀的特殊傳統或流派之風格。對於這種較新的探究,在某 大師或流派的風格-面目中所發生的演進或改變上,贗品具有無法衡量的指標價值。我的這篇文章是一個 嘗試,試著以正面的方式來看待這個迷人、古老且相當真實的問題,並對它的類型與使用提出新的評價。 中國人在擁有物上蓋收藏印的習慣,為畫作的源流描出了有用的輪廓。在同時,複製藝術家和收藏家的印 章並將它們蓋在偽作上,也讓辨偽的問題更形複雜。仰慕者與後來的鑑定者之題記,同樣也為藝術品收藏 增加了一迷人的面向。由於這些東西,收藏家的焦點超出了個別的藝術作品,而涵蓋了充滿互動的特定文 化社群或系統的整個小世界。從十四世紀開始,繪畫與書法就變成了真正的時光隧道,透過它們,同質的 心靈穿越了數世紀的時間,在活潑而動態的交互作用中互相呼應著。 當特定大師的作品評價上升以及作品的供應量下降,其導致的需求上升創造出市場的條件,極有助於將有 才華的藝術家轉往作偽的方向上。二等或中等的藝術家在這裡發現了一個成為不朽的機會-雖然是隱藏在 一位古代大師的名字之下,當然也是一個立即獲得金錢回報的機會。雖然拙劣的偽作很快就會被發現與剔 除,但具創造性的、品質高的作品卻能在人們的心中與收藏中贏得一席之地,並且很快就成為文化遺產的 一部分,透過持續的收藏傳承下來,被後代的仰慕者與作偽者所模仿。偽作以這種方式獲得了與真跡完全 相等的價值與影響力。而且基於這個原因,它們不僅需要被找出來,還必須被分析,這樣,它們在大師面 目的認知變遷史中所處的位置才能被確認出來。對一位著名大師的作品來說,在經過數世紀之後,會因為 新的創作加入到其原本的作品中,而獲得許多面目。有時越「現代」的新增作比其真跡更吸引它們的觀眾 。這在所有的時代都不知不覺地發生著,但當社會狀況受到改朝換代的動盪影響時,則會顯得最富於戲劇 性。

到了十四世紀後期,評論家們已將焦點移向那些將會享有不朽名聲且會代代被模仿的元代大師身上,即我 們所熟習的黃公望(1269-1354)、倪瓚(1301-1374)、王蒙(1307-1385)與吳鎮(1280-1354)。前三位在 他們去世之前居住在蘇州,互相仰慕,常為對方的畫題詞,在詩中留給世人一段關於他們的友情與個人感 情的傳奇。然而,吳鎮是位住在嘉興的真正隱士,他與其他三人並無交往,雖然他們可能知道他的作品。 在他死後的十年中,一位仰慕他的官吏孫作(活動於1350年代至1370年代)剛好移駐到嘉興,他在這一地區 的仕紳與藝術愛好者家中到處搜尋,希望能一睹當地畫家吳鎮的手筆。在三年的密集搜尋中,他只發現了一 件竹畫(非常可能是幅手卷),他在這件作品的尾端寫了一段很長的題記,描述他所付出的努力,並表達 他對這位大師的仰慕之情。[7]然而,到了下一個世紀-1400年代中期時,就再也不見任何提及吳鎮繪畫或 書法稀少的說法出現。很顯然,他的作品已因為市場的需求而增多了起來。今天,在六百年之後,全世界 的公、私收藏中有將近四十件作品上有他的落款,或以其他的方式與他結合在一起。很顯然地,魚目被混 到珍珠之中了。

一些基本的假設 我們可以在此暫停一下,來重新檢驗這個現象。傳統主義者都是把贗品丟在不利的位置上-但這只是在它 們已被揭露為贗品了之後,那些仍然保持在大師名下的贗品,卻還是繼續被熱情地崇拜著。很明顯的,「 露出馬腳」的畫作所遭遇到的這種命運改變,反映出來的很少是作品本來價值的受到確認,而多半的是收 藏者那種發現到自己被愚弄了的心情。雖然金錢與美學上的價值一直都是、也應該保持著一種完全主觀的 態度,但在被接受為一特定大師作品中的每件偽作,其製作的年代卻是一個完全客觀的事實,去發現與闡 釋它是藝術史家的責任。想要將自己從這種主觀限制中解放出來的中國繪畫史學習者,或許可以將真跡與 高品質偽作的這種引人注目的發展視為相同創造性過程的兩端,這樣我們也許能夠較清晰地將焦點放在這 個現象上。在這種考量之上,我們可以提出幾個基本的假設:
1.在一位畫家成為知名大師之前與之後,收藏者對其作品的反應有極大的差別。
我們在看一件不知名藝術家的作品時,遠比在看那些「偉大」的-特別是那些去世很久的大師作品時更嚴 格與保守。因為一位畫家能獲得名聲,他的作品一定是比其同時代人的作品更優秀。也就是說,其潛在的 顧客或畫院的審查者會將他的作品與找得到的最佳古代傑作相比較。一旦這位藝術家通過了這一嚴格的檢 驗,而他的作品也受到有力顧客或評論家的推崇,並且他被認為足以挑戰那些最棒的人:一位新的藝術家 於焉誕生,而且聲譽鵲起。

然而一旦他的名聲增長,相反的狀況也會發生。不熟悉其風格細節的收藏者對他的作品產生了一種好奇心 ,通常也產生一種得到它們的慾望。這種慾望,特別是在藝術家去世以後,而且當他的作品已變得稀少的 時候,會形成一種將贗品接受為真跡的決定性傾向。收藏者的直覺通常有一種特徵,即對完整性、全包性 -對每一位著名大師至少擁有其一件作品的慾望-有一種無法抑制的衝動。

2.對一件上有知名大師落款的作品,收藏者比較不會太嚴格地檢驗。
由於這個原因,在中國繪畫的收藏中,佚名的作品通常有相當高的水準。相反地,與偉大名字連在一起的 作品雖然常常數量龐大,但可能品質較差。如果從幾世紀以來的雜錄中搜尋某位著名大師的作品,很快就 會發現其作品的數量是與日俱增的。很明顯地,其數目是同市場對它們的需求一起成長的。

3.很大量的偽作是在大師生前或其死後不久作出來的。
這樣的作品在此處被稱為準原跡(見以下所述)。
a.走進為一位最近過世大師辦作品特展的一間台北畫廊,他的一位得意門生發現展覽中的畫大 概十之八九是有問題的。
b.南宋-元初的文人畫家錢選(約1235-1301後),據記載在生前他的作品被偽造的數量就相當 驚人了。不久前,有一以純墨線所畫的荷花手卷在一死於1389年的早明皇子墓中出土。在一首絕 句之後的自題中寫道:「余改號霅谿翁者,蓋贗本甚多,因出新意,庶使作偽之人知所愧焉。」
[8]雖然此畫本身也不無疑問,是從這位藝術家死了約八十年後才形成的一個收藏中而來,但此一 題詞仍強調出當代的藝術品偽作在中國的交易興隆。
c.有名的挑剔和心志高亢的元代詩人畫家倪瓚(1301-1371),其作品在生前就被那些想要進入 公家/社會的人認為是適當的呈獻禮物(這引起他的一個窮困的年輕朋友偷了他的一件作品)。一 個世紀之後,著名的明代文人畫家沈周(1427-1508)說:「江南人家以有無雲林畫為其清濁。」 這樣的一個宣言對藝術市場所造成的衝擊是可想而知的。沈周自己曾列舉出不超過四十幾件有倪 瓚款的畫作。當代學者容庚以可找到的紀錄做出了一份清單,並且發現倪瓚的作品已經膨脹到376 件![9]

這些典型的例子突顯出在中國收藏所特有的一些因子:

-贗品具有相當高的水準。

-收藏家對有款作品的接受相當不嚴謹。

-理論家一向不願意對贗品的類型與功能做出研究與分析。

-理論家與現代學者不願意擺脫對一位大師風格先入為主的成見或關於他的「典型面目」之普遍概念。

在較晚的明清時期,作品的數量遠大得多,而且也更可能包含著對名畫家的真面目可靠的反映與確實的真 跡;而宋與元代的作品,由於政治與軍事上的大亂,也由於另一個五百年的距離,因此無法合理地期待它 們會有一相當的比例。如果在一群傳為一宋代或元代大師的作品中可能有一件或更多的真跡,那麼它們可 能完全顯得像是個例外,而不是從一個一致的意見推演而來的「典型面目」-在這一群作品中顯露出來的 多數面目的一個平均。雖然它們當然是最古老的樣本,但因為佔著最小的少數,因此非常可能看起來「不 典型」,並且可能因此受到忽略。這是因為趨勢是要以全部的這些證據來形成一個「平均」,讓每個候選 者都有一票,並從多數中尋找這個「典型面目」。收藏家經常受到較近代候選作品的吸引(假定它們具有 頗高的水準)-很簡單的原因是它們更接近他自己的時代,也更令人熟悉,其語言與內容更易於掌握。 如果這個假設對於鑑定家與收藏家而言可以成立,對於作偽者應該也能成立,因為後者同樣也對更近代的 演繹有更直接的反應,相信那些贗品是真跡,並以其做為自己偽作的基礎。因此,我們可以考慮下一個假 設:

4.一位越古老的藝術家,他的面目的演進與改變越會嚴重。

5.一位越古老的藝術家,後人做其贗品時,對他風格就會與他原本的面目距離越遠。

要從事對一特定古代(宋和元)大師的系統性研究,那麼去思考下面這種可能性似乎有些敏感,也令人有 些疑慮,即與其名字連結在一起的作品可能沒有任何一件是出自他的親筆。比較安全的說法可能是:我們 可以肯定,他的作品中包含了很大比率的摹本、修訂本、仿作或捏造之作,藝術史家必須將它們辨認出來 ,並置入時間的序列中,而如果可能的話,也放到區域或流派的脈絡之中。

為了釐清對藝術的歷史過程之了解,我們必須重新評估我們對贗品的觀點。很顯然地,在中國的收藏史中 ,由於古代大師被當成模範,而且畫作具有如此獨特的一種社會功能,因此特別是對中國人來說,贗品一 直扮演著一個明顯而關鍵的角色。這並不是說收藏家故意容忍或訂製偽作,相反的,每一個世代都有許多 鑑定家在辨偽上加入新的技巧。

才智、學識與狡詐 然而,作偽者常常和鑑定家一樣的聰明,每當思慮周密的收藏家-鑑定家發展出一項新的辨偽方法時,他 都有辦法找出一種能讓他自己的偽作「證實為真」的新技巧。他研究古代收藏家的文集,記下某一特別畫 作被紀錄下來的特徵,而如果此畫已經不存在了,他就會創造一幅來符合這些描述。對某些他專精其風格 的畫家,他會去熟悉他們的生平,也會去熟悉他們朋友的書法與詩詞風格。他創造畫作時會附上令人信服 的題跋,這會為這些畫增加許多的價值,因為它們變成了「真實的文獻」,也就是說它們證實了從古代紀 錄中蒐集而來的說辭。

寶繪錄》的例子 1633年(明崇禎六年),有一個想像力豐富的商人張泰階為他的財物建了一棟藏寶樓,名喚「寶繪樓」, 並訂製了一批偽作以為收藏,它們的年代從六朝一直到他自己的時代,囊括了中國繪畫史中最有名的大師 。然後他為他的「古董」出版了一份目錄,名為《寶繪錄》。[10]翻開它的書頁就像在看一齣古裝歷史片, 而且讓人充滿了快樂與憧憬。在各式各樣的所有偽造交易紀錄中,令人敬仰的大師們活了過來,並且在銀 幕上昂首闊步。它讓人讀起來很興奮,也讓那些輕率的收藏家對這些畫作無法抗拒。其中典型的一份紀錄 如此寫道:

「梅道人(吳鎮,1280-1354)為危(素)太樸(1303-1372)二十幅

-吳鎮戲墨作春林過雨圖

-梅道人戲仿北苑(董源)筆

-壬寅四月二日梅道人戲墨

-喬林高士梅道人鎮作壬寅十一月二日」

二十個標題都是這樣的寫法。

接著有一篇動人的自識:

「鎮僻處窮居,寡營斂跡,孑立獨行,謝絕世事,非有意存乎其間,懶性使然也。暇則焚香誦書,游戲翰 墨,時作短幅小方,稍不愜意即投之水火,或交知見而愛之,遂以相贈,當於人心者,十有八九矣。往歲 太樸先生以佳紙二十幅索圖,豈以予畫為足重乎,予何敢辭,不謂淹滯二載,而先生亦不我咎,真有以知 我也!今年春乃竟其冊為書若此,先生略其妍媸,而并忘其罪愆,則鎮幸甚。至正甲辰三月下浣梅道人吳 鎮識。」

其次是受畫者危素的一篇讚辭。危素是位相當著名的文人與歷史家,他的交遊圈子中包括了幾位知名的畫 家。這篇讚辭是如此寫道:

「吳梅庵吾之至友也,有高世之行,書無不讀,而繪事尤精,所謂魯之原憲,晉之陶潛,殆其儔乎。予固 愛其畫,而更愛其人。每有所請,無不應之,而悉佳妙。就中畫冊,種種入神,即使王洽復起,董巨再生 ,亦何過焉?梅庵自謂久淹自道也。大抵書畫貴於舒徐,而不貴於欲速,奚必以二載為記哉。書於冊後, 使梅庵見之,必以予為知言。臨川危素識,是歲四月十有一日。」

第三個引人注目的題詞如此寫道:

「元季畫家不勝指屈,雖散漫四方,而惟江左為最,若吳仲圭其一也。仲圭居諸大家之右,獨得董巨正傳 ,至於竹石寫生,又稱妙絕。所謂淡而不厭簡而文,仲圭有之矣。然未能見知於人,故處室屢空,而松柏 後凋之操,未嘗少謝,又為元季第一流人,誰謂繪事之事,足以盡其生平梗概乎?此二十幅昔為危太樸所 作,傳至今日又屬吾友某所藏,觀其畫想其人,畫固可重,而人尤足重。後之覽者,若止以畫視之,其亦 淺之乎。知仲圭矣!嘉靖十一年壬辰秋七月望後二日,文徵明書於悟言室。」

從上述的觀察可以引出更多的假設:

6.社會因素左右著收藏的判斷。

在單獨的這件作品中,一整個文化的環境都被裝入其內。而且,對中國人而言,它不只是一件文化遺物而 已,它體現了最高的社會階層-文人。擁有了這樣一件東西就走進了所有時代最知名的社會圈子之中。在 中國,這種的交往是無時代限制的:一個人可以自由地與古代詩人吟詩聯句,打破時空的界線,並在未來 會出版的詩集裡加入到他們的行列之中,而最令人興奮的是可以活在後人的心中。張泰階的書記錄了晚明 收藏中的這種追求社會、聲望價值的傾向:「那些僅止於看畫面(而沒有使其創作者的精神再度復活)的 觀賞者,其(對此件作品之)所知確實會相當的膚淺。」與擁有最高文化知名度的人之作品有所關連,就 是與最高社會階層的成員有關係。擁有一件知名的作品將一個人提升到社會的重要位置,它吸引其朋友的 欣羨(與嫉妒)目光,並保證其在中國的文化(亦即,社會)史年譜中佔有永久的一個位置。因此,一件 繪畫或書法的取得常不是一個單純的藝術行為,而同時也隱藏著很多的社會野心。如果去擁有一件知名大 師的作品是一種社會性的必要行為,那麼製造它們就是一位優秀作偽者在經濟上無可避免之事。對包括了 皇帝的傳統收藏家來說,要他在一件優秀但無款的作品與一件平庸但有知名大師款的作品間做一選擇,幾 乎不會有什麼猶豫:他最常選「有名字」的作品,在這裡洩漏出典型的喜歡社會名聲勝於純粹的品質。中 國的藝術品味在近六百年來已逐漸轉向與名字的關聯。當一件藝術品的製作是為了成為眾所讚美的對象, 「誰作的?」是最受關心之事:其本身品質的視覺吸引力只被給予其次的重要性。在這種關係中,收藏家 加入了文化精英的行列:他與古代的文化英雄發生了關聯(也會被後來的精英所關聯),也與他們的人格 、才能與聲望發生了關聯。這已然變成了最主要的關係,成了收藏的目的。畫作僅僅只有做為媒介工具的 功能,做為啟動這種關係的「時光機器」。每當有一件身世不凡的畫卷出現,收藏家就已預先認定了它的 真偽。現在他可以把自己的章蓋在那些大收藏家的印章旁邊了。這件作品甚至可以呈獻給皇帝,以得到立 即的利益與永恆的榮耀。

7.感情因素左右鑑定。

沿著這條推論的路線下去,讓我們想像有個人生活在晚明時期,有錢但沒什麼社會聲望(他不屬於進士這 類的文人階級)。通往社會聞達的大門離他不遠了,但讓我們假設他打算去收集這種文人圈子成員的筆跡 :水墨畫奠基者詩人王維(699-759)的一小幅山水、以細線勾勒為主的卓越大師李公麟(1049-約1105)的 一件人物卷、文人畫改革派的創始者趙孟頫(1254-1322)的一幅冊頁、或最有吸引力、最受到喜愛的文人 畫家倪瓚(1301-1374)題獻給第二讓人崇拜的大師黃公望(1269-1354)附有詩詞的十幅冊頁,上有後者的 一篇長長的題記以及文徵明(1470-1559)所題的一篇更長的讚辭。由於它們非比尋常的文化內涵與文學性 質,近千年來這些文人所做的畫享有著西方世界無法想像的崇高價值。基於相同的原因,這類作品的市場 不但大,而且供不應求。有關這樣一個收藏的消息不脛而走,這些菁英份子絡繹不絕於通往此擁有者大門 之途,競相在這些無價之寶上加上自己的讚辭。除了能夠進入到官方的年譜中,這樣的收藏是贏得不朽性 最確定的方式。

顯然的,知名作品的擁有在中國人間具有一種獨特與高度的情感吸引力。當一件知名大師所做的稀有古代 繪畫或書法變得可以得到,其上有米芾、蘇軾、黃庭堅、趙孟頫、倪瓚、吳鎮、黃公望或王蒙的落款,就 會令人如此地難以抗拒,以致有希望的收藏者都想相信它是真的,因為他會想去擁有它,想以某些方式與 它產生關聯。在此,「名名」顯然大重於「品質」。

大師之作具有聖物般的功能。

相信好的藝術品是真跡的這種強烈意願使其達到了聖物般的地位,這情況與基督教的歐洲,特別是義大利 ,如出一轍。在幾乎所有的教堂中,甚至偏僻如西西里(Sicily)或伊歐里斯島(Aeolian Isles),其最珍貴 的財產中幾無例外地都含有一根從真正(耶穌殉難之)十字架上來的真正釘子。它是提供那座教堂地位 與權威的一件必要聖物。原始十字架上的五根釘子是如何增長到現在的幾千根呢?答案是一樣的。對聲望 與權威的需求驅使它們出現,而信仰的需要使它們成真。多少個世紀以來,這幾千根釘子中的每一個都銘 刻著百萬真誠、熱切信徒的崇拜與敬慕。這些釘子因此獲得了真跡的功能性與真實性:它們啟示了後續世 代的信徒,而他們的信仰也跟著啟發了更後面的世代。類似的真跡功能性也被加諸於散佈全球數以百萬計 的佛陀舍利或佛骨上。中國仕紳最高的精神目標是能名留青史,並與其(歷史的、文化的)偶像並列在一 起,而古代藝術品就成了他的真釘子、真佛骨。

對於有才能而且用功的作偽者來說,這是一種無法抗拒的、雖然是替身式的成功。張泰階的收藏出版於1633 年,當時著名的南北宗畫論正對收藏與出版界造成一深遠的衝擊(見董其昌、陳繼儒與緊跟其後的畫錄出 版者之文章)。一個世紀以來,家中沒有一件倪雲林(瓚)的畫對一個自認有文化的家庭來說,在社會上 是難以容忍之事。亦即,這位十四世紀大師的作品已被公認為真釘子、真佛骨了。現在,董其昌再一次鞏 固了倪瓚[11]與所有所謂南宗或文人畫派畫家的偶像地位。對於想要尋找晉身之階的家庭們來說,去蓄積能 證明自身文化造詣的證據是必要的,也就使這種需求更加擴大了。而張泰階的藝術虛構再也找不到比此刻 更好的出現時機了。

十七世紀理想的證明文件

晚明收藏家在張的《寶繪錄》中,發現了一個夢想不到的、代表著南宗文人最高理想的文化天堂。畫一幅 接一幅地被親切的描述著,遠古的作品有宋徽宗(1101-1126在位)的題字、趙孟頫或文徵明的讚辭;有許 多是被獻給重要的文人、收藏家或評論家,更增強了它們的社會-政治聲望。在以社會取向的收藏家身上 ,(而其中會有多少收藏家沒有絲毫的社會野心呢?)這種影響必定會產生出名揚天下的美夢。透過單獨 的一件作品,去與這麼多的古代重要大師之精神「同在」-即使必須要付出等同於一棟豪宅的代價!去加 入-即使是間接地-那個如此大量聚集於此的古代知名精英與雅士群體中。此類作品對收藏者產生的情感 效應,不僅使他們產生出相信它們每個聲言的欲望,也使他們想不計任何代價去得到它們。被這種渴望所 淹沒的收藏家傳染了一種「蒐集狂」;對其而言,沒有任何畫看起來太新、價格太高或交貨的日期太快。 正是因此、在供應著名大師的贗品上、如同真跡一樣,提供一種串年歲的連接橋樑給不同時代、具有類似 教養的人們,幫他們忙建立了一個持續擴大的「鑑賞家」俱樂部,將這些收藏者的名字與歷史上的偉人都 連在了一起,且被永遠銘記在中國精英的名人錄之中。

在此張氏之作乘為了一艦珍貴的文獻,充分地代表著十七世紀的收藏者的理想和慾望,陳敘著後董其昌時 代「南宗、文人畫派」之最高權威。誠懇、透入的學者不能拋棄此書,或任何高級(特別是有真實清皇宮 或有鑑賞力收藏家之印)的假書畫,嚷著,「阿!此贗品也!」。相反地,我們應該珍惜它們,視之為其 製造時代的正確影子,也是該造假者對某位古代大師面目的理解和詮釋。

二次的閱讀

深入地閱讀張泰階的書,我們或許能發現到其所用語言已完全抓住了其時代的收藏與鑑賞遊戲中的各種典 型觀點。書中更有一種仰賴於贊助者的藝術家所慣有的典型阿諛、諂媚語調(雖然對─歷史上那位─吳鎮 是相當不適當的),而有力的贊助人在題寫自己訂製或強索而來的作品時總是發出喟嘆,讓那些仰慕早期 大師並留意其作品傳承的後來藝術家-鑑賞家聽起來以為是真的。

然而,一隻靈敏的耳朵能在這個目錄中聽出其用詞上有一種令人不安的相似性,並因而懷疑在這件「吳鎮 」冊頁上的全部三篇跋文都是出自同一人之手。現代的藝術史學者通常會依據西洋曆法將干支紀年轉換為 相對的西洋年代,而在這裡的第一個題獻日期就會因此而使我們發現異常:「壬寅」年不是被轉換成1302 年-此受畫者出生的前一年,就是1362年-畫家死後的第八年。「壬寅」出現了兩次,而且後面還跟著「 癸卯」-下一年(1303/1363),雖然這些年代有明顯的邏輯次序,但這題詞(以及整件作品)顯然是假的 。更顯然的是,這個作偽者連吳或魏(受畫者)的生卒年都不知道。

持懷疑論的書籍解題者

有少數富有批判力的書籍解題者已經指出了此書的這種可疑性質。編纂大叢書-《四庫全書》(1782年序 )的這些皇室編書人,在他們的摘要或提要中陳述了對《寶繪錄》的意見:

「張泰階?萬曆己未(1619)進士?其家有寶繪樓,自言多得名畫真跡,探論甚高。然如曹不興畫,據南齊 謝赫古畫品錄已僅見其一龍首,不知泰階何緣得其海戍圖。又顧愷之、陸探微、展子虔、張僧繇,卷軸累 累,皆前古之所未睹。其閻立本、吳道玄、王維、李思訓、鄭虔諸人,以朝代相次,僅廁名第六七卷中, 幾以多而見輕矣。揆以事理,似乎不近,且所列歷代諸家跋語,如出一手,亦復可疑也。」

當代的書籍解題者余紹宋在其《書畫書錄解題》(1931年序)引了上述說法與吳修(1764-1827)的一段評 論,吳在其《青霞館論畫絕句》(1824年序)中寫道:

「崇禎時(1628-1644)有雲間張泰階者,集新造晉唐以來偽畫二百件,併刻為寶繪錄二十卷,自六朝至元 明無家不備。宋以前諸圖皆趙松雪、俞紫芝、鄧善之、柯丹丘、黃大癡、吳仲圭、王叔明、袁海叟十數人 題識,終以文衡山,而不雜他人,覽之足以發笑。豈先流布其書,後乃以偽畫出售,希得厚值邪?數十年 間,余曾見十餘種,其詩跋乃一人所寫,用松江粉黃箋居多。四庫全書提要收此書,亦疑其出於一手,未 之信也。」(6:12ff)這樣的評論洩漏出一種感情性與主觀性的反應:攻擊、高傲與拒絕。然而,如果我 們能以真正的客觀性與

學術上的無私來檢驗《寶繪錄》,那麼它做為某種十七世紀收藏家理想的一份真實文件,這樣的獨特價值 就很快變得明白。就像《偉大的美國夢》(The Great American Dream)證明了二十世紀中期時的美國價值 一樣,《寶繪錄》同樣也反映了十七世紀中期某一部分社會的美學價值觀。

對過去範本的依賴:古代主題的變體新面目

一幅畫或一種風格在歷經歲月之後會得到新的意義與新的圖像。在這文人的傳統中,中國書畫家「創造」 時,常常在演奏著過去大師風格的變奏曲。在這麼做時,他們並不對古代作品做直接的模仿或複製,他們 萃取出古代大師的精神,在加以吸收與重新詮釋後,新的形式會在新的世代中出現。這個過程非常類似西 洋音樂,像布拉姆斯(Brahms)的《海頓(Haydn)主題之變奏曲》或貝多芬(Beethoven)的《莫札特 (Mozart)主題之變奏曲》:海頓與莫札特提供了靈感、骨架,這些後來的作曲家在其上構建他們自己的 樂曲。從不同世紀的文人畫中,學習者們能領會出這些鼓動著持續性詮釋、「變體」的「時代風格」。類 似地,在不同時期的贗品中,作偽者-藝術家想要創造某大師令人信服的圖像。在這麼做時,他們為我們 留下了自己的個人與時代特徵,以及當時對上述大師的認知;在這裡我們看到了對那位古代大師的認知在 數世紀中的變化。基於此一原因,好的贗品不僅值得傳統收藏家(如真跡一般)的珍惜,並應該被藝術史 家如同對待那些已被證實為真跡者一樣認真地加以研究。這些長久以來一直為人所接受的贗品提供了我們 有價值的與客觀的歷史資料。

如果把這些質疑的反對論點放在心中,那麼在讀《寶繪錄》時不免會發覺到,揮霍在每件作品紀錄上的這 些敏感、關心是頗值得我們玩味的。它們在創作出來時所被灌注的熱情,和一位真誠的收藏家耗費在其目 錄上的並無二致。對當時的口味以及過去對主要大師的描述做仔細研究的結果,喚出了一個理想的收藏, 而這樣一個收藏就按照著、順應著十七世紀的喜好被建立了起來。在此一情況下,這些新創造出來的贗品 能比那些從模糊過去而來的真跡更完美地符合於他們的時代,因為那些古代的作品已完美地符合了它們的 時代:遙遠與不同的時代。張泰階希望(而且知道所有的藝術愛好者都希望)這樣的一個收藏會確確實實 地存在,他的目錄指出了「從過去而來的親筆片段」受歡迎的程度:到了他那個時代,收藏家已經不再滿 足於擁有的僅僅是繪畫,他們更喜歡上面有許多偉大文化精英成員所題辭的作品;將時間壓縮、裝進一個 膠囊-裝進單獨的一件手卷中,已經成為一種社會習俗。它突顯了帶有社會趨向的收藏家間對這種「集合 作品」的接受具有強烈的感情傾向。

以內在的證據來作分析工作

中國繪畫的研究者逐漸將焦點放在藝術家的風格與用筆上,這種內在證據受到了強調。而題跋、印章、文 字中的訊息構成了外在的證據,材料(墨、紙或絹、顏料)則或許可以稱為材料證據。讓材料接受一套各 式各樣的分析來探究它們的年代,以及製造地區(如果可以的話),在今日的科技上已有可能。 藉由科技的幫助,我們將可以探知一幅聲稱為宋代的畫作,是否實際上是以明代的材料所繪製的;或者一 件被認為元代的作品,可能全是以宋代的材料製作出來的,類此等等。在第一個例子中,我們知道自己看 到的是一件不早於明的作品,這指的是它可能是明或更晚。在第二個例子中,我們知道這件元畫有很大的 機會是真的,而它或許是件南宋作品的機會也並非不存在;但是,它仍然有可能是元以後的作品。然而在 這兩個例子中,總是存在著這種可能性:即一位後代(明、清或現代)的藝術家以老材料來創造作品。也 就是說,一位後代或甚至現代的大師,擁有宋代的紙與宋代的墨,對宋代的樣式又頗為專精,就能夠(而 且無疑經常)製作出一幅畫,而其材料在我們現代的科技分析下會被發現是屬於宋代的。

然而,在這樣的分析中,我們卻完全無法確定其製作的日期或此藝術家的身分。正是因為這點,學者或鑑 賞家只好回來面對單獨的這幅畫、這件作品,全然地從它的內在與外在證據來做考慮。何惠鑑教授曾對克 利夫蘭美術館的一幅傳巨然畫做過研究,他首先在一種正面的態度下帶著合理的肯定性判定了「尚書省印 」這枚官印的北宋年代,但對藝術家身份的辨認,他則仰賴於一種傳統歸屬的組合、文獻對巨然面目矛盾 處的消除、與早期紀錄者對其繪畫風格的描述。在此例中,何氏引述了沈括(1031-1095)的評論:「江南 董源僧巨然,淡墨輕嵐為一體」(《夢溪筆談校証》,1955,I:567)。何氏藉由確認1)此畫可能的製作日 期,與2)當時對此畫家的描述,此一雙支的研究程序,將此一巨然問題拉近放大,並繼續以合理的肯定性 建立起《溪山蘭若》的作者歸屬。[12]雖然沒有任何證據能毫無可疑地證實這件無款畫作是出於巨然親筆 ,而不是一位當代的追隨者或同事,但我們卻能相當確定它所呈現的巨然風格與年代是從一個相當接近巨 然的時代而來。

遲早,當我們對特定大師們的真跡不再只是有合理的肯定,而是能確實的掌握後,我們或許可以將他們的 特徵與用筆習慣輸入電腦,並讓這些機器來判定尚未經驗證的作品之真偽,使藝術史家們能從鑑定工作中 解脫出來,這樣他才可以繼續去從事定義一個風格、風格歷史,與一群作品在其中產生的歷史的、社會的 、和文化的脈絡。但從目前我們準備的狀況來看,我怕這還有很長的一段路要走。對某些學者來說,我們 還沒開始做出超越「合理肯定性」的基礎系統性研究,更遑論去定義個別大師的特徵。對於古代的證據, 我們能倚賴多少?當它們說「淡墨輕嵐」時指的是什麼?有多淡?多輕?是如何施加的?是以什麼形狀來 表現的呢?

在巨然的這個例子中,這種將他與南唐院畫家董源連在一起的一般做法,是只有米芾一人在離巨然活動時 期一個多世紀後這麼寫了之後才開始的。晁補之(1053-1110)的《無咎題跋》中寫到,其收藏中的巨然畫與 他那時檢驗過的董源畫並不相似。而米芾也宣稱學習一位古代大師的主要做法是於「師其心」,那並不是 單純地想於外在形狀上效法大師。也就是說,巨然可能已經脫離了這種董源面目。

早期畫家的早期文獻

唐、宋畫家會把自己侷限在單一種類的繪畫上嗎?他們會只使用一種皴法或用筆嗎?我們讀《宣和畫譜》 (1120年序)中對董源作品的描述時,會發現他在此時被認為同時使用著與唐代大師王維(699-759)有關 的水墨渲染風格以及李思訓(651-716)具有雄渾氣勢的畫龍及著色山水風格;他也畫人物畫,例如抓鬼的 鍾馗。在皇家收藏的78件作品中,我們不僅發現到山水與龍,還有牧牛、垂釣、水禽與儒釋道三教聖人的 畫像。另一方面,對於巨然風格的描述則顯示出他對山水的專注:「巨然山水,於峰巒嶺竇之外,下至林 麓之間,猶作卵石、松柏、疏筠、蔓草之類,相與映發?真若山間景趣也?巨然雖瑣細?」最後這句認為他有 些小心翼翼、步步為營,可能與先前提到的淡墨輕嵐形成對比。在畫譜中提到的136幅畫,事實上全都是山 水畫,某些可能是近景特寫的樹、石,許多裡面有漁舟或建築物,而有一個畫名指的應是牧牛圖。這些畫 名提示了描繪的主題,但卻很難使人了解它們的實際外貌為何。宋代作者將這種寫實感歸於董、巨,除了 說明他們的作品使用了一種大氣透視法與一種陽光在遠景上的遊戲外,並未準確地告訴我們它們在何種感 覺上是真實的,而許多不同種類的圖畫可以符合這樣的描述。更讓人不安的是,以董源或巨然之名進入徽 宗收藏的作品很有可能包含了極大比例的贗品,米芾的話當然暗示了這樣的情況。《宣和畫譜》準確反映 給我們的,是十二世紀初期的徽宗朝所認為的董巨畫之面貌。

一些新的考量與假設

在現存的小畫家作品與傳為知名大師的作品間,不僅在「時代風格」上,同時在品質上也存在著顯著的差 別:但卻與他們的聲望相反。一件由活動於徽宗朝、沒什麼名氣的十八歲畫家王希孟所作的畫-《千里江 山》卷,有讓人讚嘆的高古壯偉感、空間開闊性與實體感,以及令人驚艷的美麗(這件有款的山水卷除了 在他的年代,約1119年左右外,不可能屬於任何其他的時代)。其中的空間具有這樣的真實感,讓人彷彿 能聽到在山谷間迴盪的聲音,長長的小徑蜿蜒過深遠的距離,瀑布都有自己的源頭-所有的這些賦予了宋 畫與「宇宙觀」Weltanschauung一種感覺,但這在絕大多數年代被定在同一時期的名作中卻找不到。 同樣的話也可以用在北京的一件無款手卷-《江山秋色》上,它在洪武時期被歸為趙伯駒所作。(將此卷 與同一收藏中傳為趙伯驌的手卷做比較,立刻就顯出對空間與量感存在著兩種無法調和的認知,亦即它們 具有不同的時代風格。)

另一個小畫家,北宋晚期的張擇端,他的《清明上河圖》現在擁有無與倫比的評價,其在描繪與筆墨中都 讓我們看到了立體性與實體感,與同時期的許多華麗畫卷之表現不一致。然而,張的作品像王希孟與趙伯 駒的一樣,都屬於最少數裡的一員,比起絕大多數今日被嚴肅認可的傳宋畫,它們帶有遠為多的「宋代的 」重量、空間、深度與體積感。傳為這一時期的作品很少具有同等的重量、空間結構或藝術水準,大多數 的作品都缺乏王、趙、張三人手卷中的「宋代」感。那麼,藝術史家是否被期待著要服從於「佔壓倒性優 勢的間接證據」?如果真是這樣,那麼他是否會認為這三個手卷是非典型的,並將它們指定到一個不同的 年代?如果我們重新去檢驗這整個問題,並開始去問:「如果這三個手卷屬於十二世紀,那麼許多與之無 法調和的作品又出自於何時?」這樣是否會更具有建設性?在這麼做時,我們並不「移除」或「遺失」任 何東西,我們給了宋代畫家他們應得的對待,也發現了較晚時代所具有的這些聰明才智與認知的變化。 少數服從多數的民主做法可能並不具有啟發性。說今日這些佔絕大多數的傳宋、元作品其實反映的是後來 的時代,正確的機率相當的高。也就是說,如果我們將「時代風格」奠基於由佔大多數的圖像所引證出來 的一致意見上,我們肯定會誤解了中國繪畫史。如果像短命的王希孟、現在被當作趙伯駒的那個無名畫家 或張擇端這樣的小人物,都能做出這麼高水準、以及在風格與空間上具有如此一致性的作品,難道我們不 該期望這一時期的一般畫作中也具有風格的一致性?我們不能期待出自這些偉大名字的作品應該要更優秀 ?知名大師會做出比這些名氣相當小或不知名的人所作的這些手卷更偉大的作品,這不是更合邏輯嗎? 某些知名的學者可能會反駁說:「這樣的懷疑論可能會把我們僅存的幾件古代大師作品給奪走。」但我必 須請問:「如果讓這些知名大師留在一代代演化性與創造性贗品的覆蓋之下,並且拒絕將他們真正的原始 面目從這堆歷史衍生物下挖掘出來,那麼對於我們致力要研究的這個中國繪畫史與我們想去崇拜的這些真 正大師們,不是造成了更大的傷害?」

對目前被視為古代傑作的作品付出更高程度的謹慎與重複的檢驗,難道不是對中國繪畫付出更大的關心嗎 ?藝術史家間的根本爭論或許可以完全歸結到一點上,即是要接受未經驗證但現存的傳稱之作,還是要小 心地、穩固地來重建大師的本來面目(然而其中某些可能已不再存在)。對收藏家來說,第一個選擇看起 來顯然會是較受歡迎的,當然,對於藝術史學者而言,這樣的選擇是不存在的。

現在不正是將數世紀以來累積在偉大大師們周圍的這些誤解的與常常是較差的面目加以揭露,以及,如果 可能的話,試著去發掘或重建他們本來面目的好時機嗎?這似乎常常只是一個態度上的問題:如果我發現 自己最喜歡的一幅吳鎮畫原來是件十五世紀的作品,並且帶著嫌惡的口氣大叫:「贗品!」而把它丟掉- 那麼我其實從未認真地把它當作一件藝術品來看待,「愛」的只不過是這個觀念:我欣賞與了解一位傳奇 性的元代道家隱士。

另一方面,如果我深入地去認識到它的卓越品質,我就會毫不猶豫地說:「這是一個十五世紀時對吳鎮面 目的優秀再創造的例子。」那麼,這件作品就沒有遭遇到不幸,它的真實年代受到了確認,而我們也因為 它的確實身分而看到了投射在這位元代大師身上的這種新的面目。沒有任何東西可能會因此失去(除了學 者的尊嚴與想要賺取的金錢),但歷史的圖像卻可因此而更為深入與清晰。我們必須要問:金錢的考量是 最重要的考量嗎?我們要避免去對那些據稱是重要大師的作品做詳細、嚴謹的檢驗,以免破壞了名譽、權 力或價格嗎?一件作品完全不會因為它是十一、十四、或二十世紀的,就顯得較不美或降低了本質上的價 值。如果我發現年代影響了我對一幅畫的感覺,那麼我珍愛的就不是這件作品,而是我個人對它的年代與 據稱其作者的感情。這樣的感情是混淆的,並且可以是代價高昂的。一個比較進步的態度是將主觀的執著 排除掉,並對贗品產生一種科學上的興趣。從以上所述,我們繼續提出一些基本的解設:

9.大多數的傳統收藏家被作品上的簽名牽著鼻子走;很少人會用自己的眼睛和經驗嚴格地檢查這些畫;更 少人能不在乎作者之名字。而仍然純粹因為美學的目的來欣賞作品的人更少。對中國的收藏家來說,這種美唯 美的享受是不完全的,因為自從明代以來,在人文脈絡的收藏習慣已經不能缺少與古代大師和其題詞所進行的 同時性精神交流。在缺少了來自於擁有一件名作的文化/社會提昇感時,這種美學經驗對明代以來的收藏家是不 完全的。

10.著名大師的作品在他自己活動的那個時期就受到了大量的學習、模仿、複製與偽造。

11.如果他的名聲在接下來的數十年或數百年中仍能持續或增長,贗品的製作也會同時成長。
如果保守的估計掛在台北一家畫廊裡的近代大師作品,有超過百分之五十以上是贗品(台北是他最後三十 年的定居之處),傳為古代大師的作品是贗品的機率將呈指數性的上升。

12.一位重要藝術家與其收藏者相距的時間間隔越大,在其收藏中是贗品的機率也會更大。
想想看一位像吳鎮這樣的元代大師,他的作品沒辦法在他死了十年之後找到,即使孫作在他的家鄉做了三 年的努力搜尋。如果保守的估計,可以說時間的變遷摧毀了半數實際存留的真跡。然而,在一個世紀之間 他的名聲急速上升,鑑賞家開始去列出與計算「吳鎮作」的作品。這些很容易就包含有百分之七十五的、 在吳鎮死後一世紀之內作出來的贗品。由於到1362年時吳鎮留下來的作品已經如此稀少,十五世紀時的產 品因此有機會自由地脫離了這些原跡。現在,更多的作偽者製造吳鎮的作品,但他們大多數是從「新範本 」-那些已經過一次背離的作品-為基礎。他們對吳鎮的認知不僅會是十五世紀的,而且也已偏離了原貌 ,誇張這個或那個方面,又杜撰出其他的東西。

到十六世紀時吳鎮的評價仍高,贗品的需求與製造也更多。有可能實際上沒有一件反映出這位藝術家的原 貌,而已經變成了他的影子的影子的影子。如果作品之上簽有「以吳鎮筆法作」,那麼它們可以被視為是 其變體的變體的變體:那些由不同藝術家以各自認知的吳鎮樣式所創作的原創性作品。在作偽者與創作變 體的藝術家之間的基本差別,是藝術家打算藉著某些古代的筆墨精神來表現他自己,而作偽者想去製作一 件不是他自己的、而是吳鎮的作品。但不可避免的,他留下了洩露他自己時代的線索,藝術史家只要稍微 留意就能將它們辨認出來。

由累積下來的贗品所產生出來的這些偏移的、破碎的面目,被反映在收藏家紀錄他們所見或所買作品的雜 錄中。當我們在文獻之中追查一位宋代或元代大師的作品時,可以看到那些在他在世期間僅有的資料較具 有一致性,而後來觀察者的那些紀錄隨著時間的延伸而日漸分歧。這些後來被紀錄下來的是大師被新加入 的作品。當然,並不是所有的新作品都會被接受,較差的通常很快就被剔除掉,但高品質的贗品似乎自很 久很久以前,就因有利可圖而廣為流行。

對於一畫多本的問題,首要的開放態度是不要將它視為一個問題,而是去了解它的普遍性,特別是關係到 好的或有名的範本。以下的這些普遍、立即性的反應除了會造成誤導外,並沒有任何的建設性:

(a)品質較高的版本是真的,而其他則是假的。

(b)這(些)假的版本與這件真本有直接的關聯。

(c)這個作偽者是某某人。

這些是危險的假設,將我們的探究限制在一狹隘到可笑的二選一局勢中。比這甚至更糟的則是一種心智上 的懶惰,只願意在兩個固定點之間做動作:亦即(a)一定會導至(b)或(c)。或許我們可以考慮下面 這些假設的可用性:

(a)全部都是真的。我們知道藝術家會重複他喜歡的公式。

(b)沒有一件是真的。這原始的版本就是偽造的。

(c)這兩個或更多個版本之間並沒有直接的關係。

(d)在某些版本間有直接的關係,但其他版本間則無。

(e)此作偽者的身分並未被限制在這少數幾個已曝光的、或眾所週知的名字上。

就如在佛像畫裡一樣,多重版本是工匠量產繪畫的標準程序之一。母型會被拿來複製,然後分配到有關 的寺院中。例如,當中國福州的禪院萬福寺(Mampukuji,1661年成立於宇治)在日本的聲望漸增,許多 分寺被建立起來,日本的畫家也加入了中國的團隊來從事複製工作。狩野探幽(Kano Tany u u , 1602-1674 ) 的那些作品在品質上超過了福建佛畫師逸然性融(1601-1668)原本的品質。狩野曾經看過日本幕府將軍 或僧院收藏中最好的中國畫,而這位原畫的作者逸然卻是個見識有限的鄉下人。[13]雖然笨拙、不自然 與猶豫確實可以辨別出一個作偽者,但認為反過來同樣也會成立,那就不免是一廂情願的想法。自然、 生動、甚至精采並不能保證真實。它們只能確認這是一位以輕鬆態度在工作的有才華的藝術家。我們應 該要了解:

(f)最好的版本不見得就是真的版本。

(g)較差的版本不見得就是(較佳版本的)摹本。

(h)二者可能都是(不同)摹本的摹本,或一遙遠原本的變體。

這樣的假設對山水畫也同樣成立,只是其方式較未系統化。有名的構圖,如名為王維的《輞川圖》或黃 公望的《富春山居圖》存在著許多不同世紀的版本,它們的作用非常像被刻在石碑上、並拓印成碑帖的 佛像或書法傑作。任何稱職的藝術家都想以臨摹方式來體驗那些唯一的、不朽的神聖畫卷(雖然它可能是 經過校訂或摹寫的版本)。他竭盡所能地去借某人的版本來複製至少一次,不但為了讓自己的收藏中有這 件構圖,同時也為了體驗與古代大師交往、以及一筆一筆地重新創作其不朽作品的這種高貴經驗。就像 一首好詩,好的結構會被所有大大小小感興趣的藝術家複製,一旦找到了一個可能近似真實的版本。而 且他們每個人都至少會作出一個摹本,通常更多(為了他們自己的樂趣),而這些摹本又會成為後來藝 術家複製的範本。對藝術史家而言,認為偉大的畫作存在著多重的版本而不認為它們的其中之一必定是 最初的真跡,會是較為實際的。只有當這些摹本、版本與變體中的落款受到替換,顯然的偽造問題才會 出現。但多重摹本/贗本/版本的存在,即使不是宋代以後中國繪畫的基礎,也是其長久存在的事實。 一特定大師按年代排列下來的一系列品質好、被普遍接受的[14]贗品,告訴了我們原始面目在時間之中進 行的這些演進、變形與(類型上的)增生的許多本質。這些項目反映了與原跡間逐漸增加的距離。關於 演進,我指的是緊緊地以原始面目為基礎而得來的面目,如果後來的世代也使用這同一個範本,也具有相 同的意義。對於變形,我指的是由於後代藝術家的某些誤解或錯誤記憶,造成了原來面目的稍微改變-不 同的方面受到了加強,而原本重要的方面受到了忽略。至於(類型上的)增生,我指的是後代的藝術家自 由地創造出某些相當新的東西,與原本的面目無關,因此在大師原本的作品上加入了一個完全新的部分。 這可以是在外表上的一個新構圖形式,或甚至是一個新的裝裱格式,例如冊頁或手卷等。當這發生後,原 來大師的作品不僅會在數量或風格上增加,在作品的種類與項目上也會增加,在傳記的細節上同樣也會變 多。對於藝術史家來說,光是將珍珠從魚目之中分辨出來是不夠的,充其量,這只是出於收藏家-鑑賞家 的一種關心而已。藝術史家必須儘可能辨認出每一件增生作的原作,並將它按年代次序排列,這樣不論是 一位藝術家面目的類型或時間架構、是原來的或增加的,都能被描繪出來。它是我們研究一般風格史時的 一個必要與關鍵的部分。在這個方面上,百分之百地確定我們找到了一件真跡並不是那麼重要,但我們必 須百分之百地確定我們面對的是關於一位藝術家本來面目的哪一個層面。

對一本來面目在經過時間後的認知之層面

排除掉沒有根據的、粗劣的或差距甚大的贗品後,藝術史家致力於將儘可能在當代證據的脈絡中來嚴肅地 研究所有合理的傳稱之作,而且,除了本來的面目外,在以下的四個層面上來思考它們。

本來面目(TheOriginal)[15]:雖然我們能夠較為肯定來確認較近代的大師們,在其名字之下的一堆作品中 ,有些可能是原跡,然而,對於十世紀的大師如董源、巨然與李成,其本來的面目幾乎已遙不可及。這些 空洞幻影的重建阻礙重重,因為他們的風格自十世紀以來就持續地演進,沒有中斷。想要透過二十世紀的 眼睛並且不帶任何預設立場地去回顧與穿透對這些古人橫亙千年的品味與認知變遷,可說幾近於不可能。 以下的討論包括了門人與被傳統接受的作偽者[16],因為在此例子中二者都具有優秀的藝術才能,他們的 作品已被後代鑑賞家關連到此大師的原來面貌。偽造的大師落款經常是商人所為,有時是在數個世代之 後,他們將晚期藝術家「以此位古代大師筆意」或「仿此位古代大師」所做的作品去掉了真款,然後再 加上的。如果我們要研究在時間行進中的大師面目-以及它的(類型上的)增生,那麼區分是門人或作 偽者就不是這樣的重要。亦即,在畫作尾端的名字,其重要性不如任何特定面目與大師本來面目之間的 關係這一議題。從時代與個人風格來看,對於其作品已不復存在的遙遠大師,接近的摹本與當時的偽作 可以當成準原跡來看。被傳統所接受的贗品具有相當高的價值,我打算在以下的項目中來研究它們。 1.虛擬原跡(Quasi Original):我們可以從兩個方面來得出一本來面目的準原跡:時間性的與個人性的。

(a)當時的證據:由當時的同代人,同仁與門人所作的作品。對藝術史家來說這些可做為準原跡,因 為它們提供了可能是此原來的時代風格最接近的反映。同代人有著共同的世界觀、時代風格、型態學、 用筆習慣,以及相同的工藝材料。例如,對於董源的時代和區域風格的一個想法,我們有一件手卷-在 台北故宮的趙幹《江行初雪》。趙幹是董源的同代人,或許年紀稍輕一點,兩人是同樣任職於南京宮廷 中的同事,畫著相似的景緻,也最可能使用著完全相同的材料。一位商人是否曾把趙幹的落款換成董源 的,在這麼遠的時間距離下,可能永遠也不會有人去懷疑有這種作偽的可能性。幸好事實並非如此,而 且藉由趙幹的作品,藝術史家對與董源相關時代的繪畫獲得了一個相當清楚的概念。有了趙幹的作品在 手上,我們缺少的只有董源的個人面目。由於趙幹並未成為董源的追隨者,我們不能期待能從此幅手卷 中看到太多董源的個人風格。在另一個千年之後,我們現在感覺起來仍相當不同的倪瓚與王蒙的作品, 將會顯得有多得多的共同點(就像趙幹的作品與董源已失的作品對今日的我們可能做的一樣)。但倪瓚 的作品不應被讀做是王蒙個人風格的一種合理代表,只能放心地將其接受為王蒙的時代風格與繪畫材料 的一個反映。例如許多當代製作的、而且持續被製作的傅抱石、齊白石、吳昌碩、溥心畬、黃賓虹等人 的贗品,在將來大概也會成為準原跡。其中某些會較準確地反映出其相關大師的個人風格,而當然所有 的作品都會反映出他的時代風格與材料。對一個特別的時代,或有時對一種特殊的區域風格而言,這些 是具有關鍵性的證據。

(b)個人的證據:觀察細緻的作偽者對原跡進行逼真的複製或臨摹,會得到接近的臨摹本或線描本, 例如現藏台北故宮、黃公望《富春山居圖》清朝人製造的「子明本」。如果原來的「無用本」已被摧毀 ,那麼儘管畫中有笨拙的筆墨及某些特徵無法避免的重複,「子明本」不僅仍會被當作是黃公望時代空 間結構風格的一個可靠指標,也會是他個人筆墨的形式(皴法)特徵的指標。在這本後來複製的面目─ 如同王翬(1632-1717)的臨本(現藏於華盛頓)與準原跡之間的主要差別,在於筆墨行為的演變─皴筆 形式之減化、其運用上之繁複化─為避免不了的時代映特徵;品質絕對是其中之二:失去的是原作 中的光彩、創造性的強度,但大部分的風格特徵都被很好地呈現了出來。在這麼接近的摹本中,臨 摹者自己的時代風格與個人的筆墨特徵都被縮減到最低限度。擁有一件原版作品對收藏者而言可能 具有最高的主觀價值。但對於時代與個人的風格來說,這類的準原跡提供了藝術史家有關這位大師 面目正確性最高的客觀證據。2.演進的面目(Evolved Image):以對原跡或(大師本來的個人風格之) 準原跡很深的熟悉度的基礎所作出來的仿本與改動較小的變體。這些反映出了大師構圖形式與筆墨技巧上 的一些東西,而每一代的學習者與作偽者會在不知不覺中留下他們個別時代與個人特徵的印記。在這裡 ,不論是刻意的偽作或單純的仿效,都明顯地具有共同的時代與風格特徵。藝術史家把它們當作是此大師 風格在數世紀間演變的證據,並將每一世代的認知變動按時間先後加以紀錄。例如,對於那難以掌握的董 源面目來說,藝術史家或可將黑川古文化研究所所藏的《寒林重汀》視為是由一位與董源派有關或無關的 江南大師以十一世紀晚期構圖[17]所作的一件十二世紀摹本,並當作是十二世紀時從董源傳統中演變而來 的一種山水風格類型的一個範例。對於在此一傳統中再往下的風格演變,我們可以將台北故宮1342年的吳 鎮「漁父意」[18]當作此一類型的十四世紀演進面目的一個範例。或者我們可以改用同收藏中、訂為 巨然或吳鎮的《秋山圖》,將之當作是一種從巨然傳統[19]中演變而來的十四世紀早期山水的保守 範例。我把有款與無款的作品都放在一起,因為在研究個人風格或較大的流派傳統之演變史上,它們具有 相同的功能。台北故宮的1328年吳鎮《雙檜圖》,畫上現有一正確但卻是偽造的款,[20]我們完全可以相 信它曾可能會遭遇到一個不同的命運。如果它不是被保存在一座道觀-可能是這件作品本來被奉獻的地 方-的收藏中,而是落到一個藝術品交易商的手中,它很可能已經被重新落了一個更古老的「款」。例如 在同收藏中的設色畫《龍宿郊眠》,是從同一個時期而來,卻落著董源的款。而與王履同時期的十五世 紀,也有像《洞山天堂》一樣被標為董源的可愛作品。最後這兩件作品並不落在演進、而是落在變形的 類別中,因為新的結構與型態學上的成分出現了。這類的增添作與變形作促進了大師面目之風格範圍在 時間中的成長。

另一方面,四王對董其昌的關係(不知他們是否有任何作品被標為董其昌的)也會是演進的,因為四王 仍清楚地被董其昌的理念與方法所主宰著。

3.變形的面目(Altered Image):藝術家以大師為其作品的基礎,但並未試圖去壓抑自己的靈感。他在 此創作行動中或多或少地與大師同在,但清楚地保留了(如果不是強調的話)自己的個人面目。沈周 以黃公望風格所作的作品,唐寅、文徵明以各個元代大師風格所作的畫,都屬於這一類。同樣的,石 濤、八大與董其昌作品間的關係也是如此。

刻意的偽作包括像沒有年代、有吳鎮款的《秋江漁隱》(台北)這樣一件作品。這件絹本的大畫來自 十五世紀早期,與戴進同時,保存了大師的這類特徵,如密集的披麻皴、平行的垂直苔點、在表現明 暗時使用相當多的渲染,但從自己洩露出時代的認知中,他另外加上了一艘過大的船、一個戴帽子的 搖槳人以及華麗的涼亭,[21]以一種熱鬧的社會取向取代了這位元代大師寧靜的內省性質。 王季遷認出了清代作偽者張培敦的手筆,他曾以唐寅在《夢遊圖》(現藏佛利爾美術館)中的風格作 出一些變形之作。[22]在其中許多唐寅的特徵還保留著,但在十七世紀的一種密集堆積的表現法下, 相當偏離了唐寅個人的與其時代的那種輕盈、快活風格與較為正面性的畫法。

4.(類型上的)增生、全新的面目(Typological Accretion):在此類中,藝術家自由地發明構圖形式 與筆法,不讓他們對大師本來面目的概念(任何有的話)妨礙了製作。在這種方式下,一些非常有趣 與高品質的作品出現了,例如王翬的許多極佳的創作。方聞已經辨認出題為十世紀大師許道寧的《關 山密雪》。[23]這是一件相當有吸引力且多采多姿的作品,然而卻與許道寧的特徵沒有任何關係,但 它描寫出了在十五世紀時非常流行的北宋式雄偉構圖。在吳鎮的這個例子中,與沈周同時的一位十五 世紀藝術家創造了一整個系列的(類型上的)增生類新作品,其原因不在於對這位大師風格的無知, 而是因為其本身的創造性具有無法抑制的動態感。在全世界有明顯數量的這類作品中,包含了現有的 兩個版本(:)分別在上海與華盛頓特區的《漁父圖卷》,以及另外的許多作品,它們實際上已經取代 了這位大師的本來面目。更晚的傳稱作品幾乎完全是以這類(類型上的)增生作為基礎的演進版,而 不是以吳鎮的本來面目為基礎。無論(類型上的)增生作在何時被加入到一位大師的全體作品中,恐 怕後面的追隨者會支持它們,因為它們更接近他們自己的世界觀。就這點來看,嘗試藉著接受由大多 數現存作品或最大數目仿作得出的面目,去猜測一位古代大師的本來面目,是過度危險的。我們必須 留心這些已經沿著此路線匯入這條溪流、並可能取代了原跡的新面目。對於虛幻的古代巨人,例如董 源(或王羲之),已經沒有任何的原跡了,只有二手的或三手的修訂本,亦即,變形作與(類型上的 )增生作。如果幸運的環境提供了一件存留下來的準原跡或一件新挖掘出來的此一時期的類似作品, 我們就能夠開始試著去重建這位古代大師的時代與區域特徵。

在此我並不能確定以上是否為修訂類型分類的最佳方式(而我們必須在每個例子中為這些修訂本附上 適當的製造年代),但我希望如果能將這些在構圖、風格與類型上與原跡之間的距離牢記在心,或許 我們就能不再重蹈「A是B的摹本」之覆轍。例如,對於一套曝光過度、但仍未被適當利用的臨仿冊頁 -被歸於王時敏或王翬的《小中現大》冊而言,只是簡單地將「第X頁是一件M大師的Y畫之摹本」這 樣的題詞改寫當然是不夠的,因為它只是做了一個直接的引述,或者說它是在十七、十八世紀與第十 、第十一世紀(王時敏【或王翬】認為這些範本中有許多是出自這些時代)之間做了一次巨大的跳躍 。藝術史家必須要做得更好,他會問:在第X頁中,王時敏(或王翬)使用的範本表現出M大師的哪 一類修訂本?它與一可能的本來面目間有多大的距離?也就是說,王的範本是一件原作、演進之作、 變形之作或增生之作?而它是出自何時?只有這樣我們才能從這種收藏家-鑑賞家的觀點轉換成廿一 世紀學者的觀點,並且能開始去定義中國繪畫風格的歷史。

*此文原以英文 Forgeries in Chinese Painting 刊登於《 Oriental Art Magazine 》 32.1 (1986 春 ): 54-6 頁。今獲得該刊物同意,由前碩士畢業生劉智遠先生與現研究生黃捷瑄小姐幫忙翻成中文,在此表達無限的感激。

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[1]見羊欣(370-442),《採古來能書人名》,中田勇二郎編中國書論大系,(1977-)。文中敘述了活動於晉 穆帝時的一個名為張翼的人,非常擅於模仿他人的書法,他曾臨過一件王羲之作品假冒成真跡而沒有被檢 驗出來。原文為「晉穆帝時,有張翼善學人書,寫羲之表,表出,經日不覺,後云「幾欲亂真」。(頁 153 ) 。
[2] Oriental Art N.S. vol.4, Winter, 1955: 141-146.
[3] Istituto Ita;iano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente, Rome, 1958.
[4] Faber, London, 1948. Dover edition 1967. 並參見 Hans Tietze, Genuine and False, Copies, Imitations, Forgeries , New York, 1948.
[5] Artibus Asiae , XXV: 95-140.
[6] Yale University Art Gallery, 1977.
[7] 對於吳鎮的個性與繪畫特徵的一篇動人的證詞可以在他的<墨竹記>中找到,收於他的文集《滄螺記》 (參見《 欽 定四庫全書 》 , 子部卷六: 6a-7b 。
[8] 報導見山東省博物館之<發掘明朱檀墓記實>,《文物》, 1972 , no.5:25-36 。亦見於《文物大革命紀年 出土文物》,北京, 1972 ,頁 135 。
[9] 容庚,<倪瓚畫之著錄及其偽作>,《嶺南書報》, vol.8, no.2, 1948 。
[10] 《知不足齋》版之照相平版印刷版,見 《 藝術賞鑑選珍 》四輯, 漢華文化事業股份有限公司 ,台北, 1972。
[11] 董如此地解釋倪瓚的神秘魔力:「迂翁(倪瓚)畫在勝國時,可稱逸品 ?/span> 宋人中米襄陽(芾)在 蹊徑之外,餘皆從陶鑄而來。元之能者雖多,然稟承宋法,稍加蕭散耳。吳仲圭(鎮)大有神氣,黃子 久(公望)特妙風格,王叔明(蒙)奄有成規,而三家皆有縱橫習氣,獨雲林(倪瓚)古淡天然,米癡 後一人而已。」 《畫禪室隨筆》, 1798年版, 2.18a-b。
[12] 其透徹的論證見 《八代遺珍》中 對此畫的記錄。 Eight Dynasties of Chinese Painting , Cleveland Museum of Art, 1980: 15-19.
[13] 見我筆者對早期南畫的某些問題之研究, Joan Stanley-Baker,he Obaku Connection, One Source of Possible Chinese Influence on Early Tokugawa Painting?in Proceeding of the International Conference on Sino-Japanese Cultural Inter Cultural Relations at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1979 (1985: 99-154).
[14] 品質佳的贗品不僅是在今天被普遍地接受,在傳統中國裡,當真跡的供應耗盡與需求衝高,它們也始 終都會被接受。此處的討論所針對的偽作,是從可接受與已被接受的平庸仿作,到第一等、富創造力的 偽作。
[15] 對以一種高於平均程度的肯定性來辨認一特定大師作品的這種綜合性方法論上,請參見 Joan Stanley-Baker, Old Master Repainted: Wu Zhen(1280-1354), Prime Objects and Accretions , Hong Kong University Press, 1995. 它提出一種結 合了西方藝術史技巧、傳統中國鑑定法與日本在漢學研究上之技巧的綜合性方法論。不消說,光是技巧是 完全不能取代對作品原件極近距離地反覆與長期研究;而任何帶著一種認為在大師全集中的作品必是真跡 的成見所做的探究,同樣也很難得到豐碩的成果。
[16] 亦即,其作品上有眼力不錯的收藏家真正的題跋與印章的作偽者,而他們大多數到今日仍不為人所知。
[17] 此作為一件摹本,在樹叢、渡頭與其他地方都顯示出一種「抄寫上的錯誤」。藉著黑川的這件摹本, 我們可知道它的範本會顯示出十一世紀構圖上的特徵:如同范寬之溪山行旅圖軸之三段空間的結構原則, 《寒林重汀》的藝術意志(artistic intention)在技巧上有很大的描繪性、在山體上顯出正面性、在近景與遠景元 素的表現上很缺乏差異性、有光源從左上方來的古老明暗塑形方法、樹對石、房子對樹有合理的比例關係 ,等等。
[18] 被誤稱為《漁父圖》。此作表現一文人斜倚在一小舟中,欣賞著湖上的月色。他並未費力地搖著槳,也 未像後來的衍生作中那樣假裝從事著一種漁夫之類的活動。吳鎮自己給的畫名是「漁父意」。
[19] 然而,許多巨然原來可能曾經發展出來的山水風格-包括克利夫蘭的這件作品所示範出的一種大量渲染 的風格,在十四世紀的認知中開始將董巨的筆法面目融合成一種以索狀的大披麻皴所作出來的湖景山水。
[20] 相對於其他有年款的作品,這個年代是很早的,支持了認為此題詞是以真跡為基礎的說法。這題詞本身 是被畫上去的,並超出了原本右邊緣的絹。這個印章是十七世紀晚期加上的。詳文請見我的博士論文。
[21] 此作在我的博士論文中有詳細的討論。米芾為了或為了刁難他的朋友所作的這許多偽作可能常是屬於這 種變形作的類別。米自負能掌握原跡面目的本質特徵,但如果不是沒辦法,必定不願意去把自己的活潑個 性完全壓抑在對此位古代大師的偽裝下。
[22] 見我們在《畫語錄》中的討論。連載於《故宮文物月刊》( Vol.1, no.8, Nov, 1983-Vol.III, no.5, Aug, 1985)。此相關的段落在 Vol.II, no.11, Feb, 1985: 134 。
[23] 見 Fong Wen, et al. Images of the Mind , Princeton, 1984: p.190.

Transmission of Chinese Idealist Painting to Japan 中國文人畫之東傳初期研究

Joan Stanley-Baker. The Transmission of Chinese Idealist Painting to Japan: Notes on the Early Phase (1661-1799). University of Michigan Occasional Papers in Japanese Studies 21, Ann Arbor, (1992). ISBN 0-939512-49-1.

徐小虎 《中國文人畫之東傳初期研究》已絕版書,由美國密西根大學出版,現已上線。

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Triadic Cello In Chinese Music 中國音樂裡的三和弦大提琴

Letter to Mr. 陳樹熙 of the Taipei Symphony Orchestra 2008/09.05 – never answered

Dear Mr. Chen,

I address you as conductor of the Taipei Symphony Orchestra as you had so kindly invited me to do after the White Snake performance last Sunday where, by the way, the very jazzy drumming was a most pleasant addition to the otherwise too noisy and repetitious music. The extravagant production was to my mind rather overdone in non-essentials, losing the elegance of sparseness that has usually distinguished traditional Chinese opera productions.

This letter is about importing ‘cellists to “modernize” traditional Chinese music events. It is a disaster to hear the ‘cello doing arpeggios琶音in a triadic三和音 framework to music that is not harmonic和音式 but modal調式的.

I think each of the cellists I’d heard must have had only Western music training and is ignorant of non-harmonic world such as modal Chinese music.

Sadly, it seems that no one in the Chinese groups has trained them to read the traditional gongchi 宮尺notation of Chinese music. And none of the cellists I’d heard has shown the slightest sensitivity to modalities.

On the contrary, each has tried to twist the music of Kunqu崑曲, Nanguan南管, Beiguan北管 or Jingxi京戲into harmonic music和音式節奏 by obtrusively embellishing what they must consider finales or codas結尾, in outrageous flourishes of gliding or even using descending pizzicati 撥奏曲in dominant sevenths七和音. This is because they impose a harmonic西洋和聲音樂式的 resolution in tonic triads三和音. (Resolution “由不諧和音轉變為諧和音”是17世紀以來西方音樂的主柱)

In recent years that I have listened to various forms of Chinese operas I have been driven to distraction each time by the mindless cellists making obtrusive sounds like a “continuo” (巴洛克時期提供連續低音的大提琴), seeking resolution via entirely inappropriate notes like descending in si-la-so-fa-mi, ending a sixth below the last note of the voice. (NB, in endings, the last note sung is rarely really a “tonic do” in its Chinese mode but often a re or la wafting upward in reflex fashion from the more emphatic end note of do-re— or so-la—–.)
But ending a sixth below and setting up the virtual harmonics of a major triad in our ears is completely fallacious! It is reprehensible, even punishable! How can listeners have tolerated the intolerable so silently? Even the musicians themselves?

In all Chinese operatic forms a phrase is never ended in a big post-Bach harmonic triad in a bang, but a mellifluous modal, floating note with a delicious “left-over silence” 餘韻 reverberating in the air long after the last note has died down. Much as Chinese landscape hand scrolls, where islands end in spits over the waters on the left bathed in gentle wash, and the painting continues reverberating for a few inches in quiet breathing space – at least 4 bars worth in music! Never in solid triadic bangs!

Once during a Kunqu performance I nearly rose to shout “Kill the Cello!” Afterwards I approached the leader who said “Nowadays everyone believes we should add deeper sounds to make our music more compatible with the times.”

That is like saying, “Let’s put some heavy-weight chocolate ice cream into our酸辣湯 to make it more cosmopolitan or modern!” What nonsense is this??

Do these musicians only have voices, but not ears? May listeners with ears here seek a voice?

A perplexed and distressed fan
Joan Stanley-Baker


徐小虎 Joan Stanley-Baker MLitt DPhil Oxon
牛津大學博士 中國文化大學 駐校藝術家
11191台北市 士林區陽明山大亨路六巷15號
Artist in Residence, Chinese Culture University
Emeritus Professor, Tainan National University of the Arts
#15, Lane 6 DaHeng Road,Yangmingshan,
Shilin, Taipei 11191 ROC
T +8862 2861 6873 C +886(0)928370357

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Physiology and Anatomy of Chinese Calligraphy

The Physiology and Anatomy of Chinese Calligraphy

Joan Stanley-Baker

Sacred Communication

Since earliest times when humanity began to socialize in tribes for survival in a changeable environment, people became deeply sensitive to the pervasive influences of seen and unseen energies around them, from celestial bodies to meteorological forces of wind, rain and thunder, to spiritual powers of animals and plants. These appeared to possess different qualities and were perceived variously around the world as deities, spirits, daemons, goblins, essences, angels, tribal progenitors or familial ancestors. Early peoples sought from them protection, and devised ways to propitiate, to please them with kinetic rites of dancing, with aural liturgy of chanting, loud blowing on conch shells, striking stone chimes and drums, and with visual offerings of powerful forms, floral arrangements, colourful and often mimetic paintings, etc. They also offered culinary celebrations in carefully prepared feasts, culminating with the libation of living blood drawn from animal or human sacrifices. With each offering of thanks and praise, there were petitions or entreaties concerning the welfare of the tribe, and the oracles would be interpreted by tribe members especially trained for the task.

The Chinese, practical to the end, or from the start, early devised writing for divine communication to ensure their appeals and queries to ancestral spirits were understood exactly, without mistake. Even more to the point, the written word guaranteed a correct “reading” of the answer. In fact, the script as developed in China embodies all three aspects of sacred offering, being a combination of aural, visual and kinetic energies. In its synthetic nature it is unique among writing systems of the world. And as vehicle for divine communication, writing has since its inception occupied a special place in the Chinese psyche.

Since the beginning it was practiced as a sacred art. Ancient mythical kings, heavenly rulers, and ancestral spirits spoke, and continue to speak to the living through calligraphy. As talisman to attract good influences, as charm to protect against evil effects, to nurture wealth and health, calligraphy in various forms continues to this day to be pasted on doors, lintels, worn on the person, carried in the purse, or burnt in trans-worldly offerings. Children are still taught never to sit or step on the written word for respect of the life force contained in the configurations.

Physiology or Dynamic Principles in Time

As hand-written compared to printed script, Chinese calligraphy communicates on yet another, unique level which is psycho-visceral. Many would call it spiritual. For in “reading” a work of calligraphy, aside from lexicographic considerations and the multiple associations engendered by the “message” itself, there is another, more vital channel of communication from artist to viewer that transcends the image or verbal message. This is where the viewer partakes in the original creative process and experiences the very act of the calligrapher’s “ink-dance” in its choreography as well as performance.

Unlike a painting where the viewer may in the mind’s eye roam in and out of the landscape, portrait, or still life at will, a work of calligraphy traditionally begins with the first stroke usually found in the top right corner, and proceeds downward in vertical fashion, with new columns forming to the left. In a knowledgeable reading, the viewer can feel the calligrapher’s every charge of the brush, and replay the wrist- or arm-movement as the brush draws across the writing surface in attenuation, twists around its tip-hairs to create a substantial dot, sinks into itself and backtracks for a more powerful forward thrust, or leaps across the empty gap to land at some strategic angle to begin the next stroke, hook, or new character. We feel the calligrapher’s wrist-weight and poise throughout. For every hesitation, and each nervous twitch of the least finger, a confident, leisurely drawing out, or animated brushing, of a stroke is left – non-correctable – as an ink trace on the writing surface and is readily translated as part of the viewer’s own visceral experience. Such intimate sensation of the artist’s minutest reflexes is like feeling the pulse, hearing the breathing, or sensing the xinyin or “heart-print” of the artist during the creative act.

What we seek in Chinese calligraphy is therefore not merely formal beauty in a composition of a series of interrelated configurations in space, but the palpable, living energy of the process of creation where we follow interconnected brush-actions as they move in time. The entire work, like a “score”, can be “heard” as music (or seen as dance) in real time. We “replay” the music (or reconstruct the choreography), replete with all the dynamic marks familiar to musicians whether legato, staccato, crescendo, diminuendo, rallentando, accelerando, sostenuto, or expression marks like allegro, cantabile, andante, maestoso, or con fuoco. Whereas dynamic marks in a music score are “instructions” to the performer, in Chinese calligraphy the performer is at the same time the creator, and we re-experience the creation and its performance afresh each time. The “dynamic marks” are viscerally felt, and can be deduced by a seasoned viewer. Thus rather than a score it may be more correct to liken a piece of Chinese calligraphy to a record or CD where the music can be played back with each viewing.

Calligraphy as a Visceral Experience

To the Chinese, calligraphy is the physical imprint of the action of inscribing one or a series of Chinese characters. The Chinese script itself has evolved over millennia without interruption and has acquired in the process a rich and complex inter layering of significance and values. This is because of its visual rather than its aural structure. In this sense we may understand the Chinese script to symbolize Chinese civilization itself. And, as inscribed by the calligrapher who transforms inspiration and energy into mass and form, calligraphy symbolizes the quintessence of that civilization.

It is the purest expression of qi or inner energy, and as such, it shares many features with the revitalizing art of Taiji’s qigong or energy calisthenics now being practiced by an ever-growing number of people around the world. For energy is universal in the literal sense of the word, coursing through particular, and controllable channels within the human anatomy, while drawing from the energy that is charging the universe. Ancient connoisseurs admired the energy-flow in calligraphy and felt recharged when “drinking in” an admired piece, in what can only be term a psycho-physiological or visceral manner, as if receiving a dose of qi-infusion from a gongfu master. And, like Taiji practitioners, calligraphers focus attention and energy inward when working for excellence, as powerful effects may be obtained only from a focussed, centred, one-pointed mind. Moreover, it must then flow unimpeded through the shoulder, arm, wrist and relaxed fingers to manipulate the Taiji-sword or the calligraphy brush – as if it were part of the mind. Any mental distraction would cause the muscles to shift, recoil or contract and disturb the transfer of energy into matter, of inspiration into form.

This essential life-process is accessible to all who cultivate inner centredness. It transcends personality notions of good and evil. The ancients were wont to say that one could glean a person’s character in his calligraphy, and point to that of the traitorous Northern Song master Cai Xiang as example of one that never reached the pinnacle of his art because of character flaws. But this is not due so much to moral failings, perhaps, as it may reflect differences in the depth of concentration, the totality of commitment and mental poise during the act of writing, (as in Taiji gongfu), and one may cite the universally admired calligraphy of Dong Qichang, who was in life less-than-admired as a man and bitterly despised as a landlord.

Anatomy: or Graphic and Historical Ingredients

Symbolic Function

The visual impact of Chinese script has always been to engender a potent sense of cognition and recognition. Reading, in its communicative function, is of course the same worldwide. But when written in Chinese, the character for each word emerges in a unique architectonic structure with its own particular combination of structural elements. Each character is a unique image with its unmistakable appearance and wholeness. The script is not primarily aural or phonetic, but a combination of pictographs and ideographs that may (or may not) be combined with elements hinting at a phonal value. It is foremost an image, and as such, of itself a visual symbol. In this sense, encountering a familiar word written in Chinese is more like that of seeing a photograph of someone we know, whereas the same word encountered in a non-Chinese, or phonetic language, is like hearing the sound of that person’s name. Here then, the impact of the Chinese script may be seen to be almost magical.

Thus images of words with auspicious meanings have become beloved ornaments in most homes. Common favourites include graphs for social desiderata like “Wealth”, “Nobility”, “Promotion”, “Longevity”; for nature’s benefaction like water (engendered by the supernatural Dragon) and air (represented by the majestic Tiger); or deified historical personages like the tempestuous but forthright martial hero Lord Guangong, or, in the celestial realm, names from the multiracial pantheon most popular among which are Buddha Amitabha Omitofuo, and the all-merciful deity Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara Guanshiyin pusa, among others. These propitious invocations, once written as characters, take on the penetrating reach of spiritual X-rays. For even more than an external “physical likeness”, they probe the essence of the specific energy invoked.

Structural Principles in Space

Visual elements of Chinese writing mutually balance each other in weight and thrust, and, as evolved into the modern printed form, all characters manage to fit within the same spatial unit, whether consisting of one, two, or thirty-six strokes, as in one, (hu)man, or stuffed nose {editor: nang- last character in the dictionary – unless you find a more complex one!} respectively. Some of the most basic words remain pictographs whose their present foursquare form had evolved from more descriptive ancient origins. “Sun” was a {hand-write these} circle (often) with a dot in the centre; “moon” a crescent with two dots inside; while “bright”, not surprisingly, was built of a combination of the two. “Water” was an {hand-written} S-shaped curve of three parallel lines with the outer ones broken, while “stream” sprang from a similar curvature, but with {ditto} three solid lines, etc..

When looking at an unknown character, the reader instantly perceives a herbal connotation from the “grass radical” (as in xiao, a herb and a proper name); a bamboo-related plant or woven object from its “bamboo radical” (as in its homophone xiao, a vertical bamboo flute); a ritual concept or object from its “ritual” or “altar” radical (as in xia, with a he element to the right, where he means joined together, and the complete character means the combined ritual offering celebrated once every three years with the entire multi-family clan gathered together). Emotional states are composed often with an “upright heart radical” {shuxinpang}, and intellectual concepts a “prone heart” {the heart radical writ in full at the bottom of the character} or “verbal” {yanzipang} radical. Social situations or interactions have usually an “upright human” radical, and animals of the canine family, thus bestial actions, feature a “canine radical”. Compared to a phonetic script, clearly, the visual charge of the Chinese script meets the reader on many more and richly varied levels.

Evolution of Medium and Form: A Symbiotic Relationship

The history of Chinese calligraphy begins with X-, V- and I-shaped lines traced with a pointed brush, in ink, along the rims of Neolithic pottery during the mid-fourth millennium BCE, but their “reading” is still being debated. Some time into the Bronze Age around the mid-second millennium BCE two script-styles appeared simultaneously even though both were ritual in function. Characters of the so-called Oracle-Bone or Divination Script were composed of thin and fairly even lines etched into brushed traces on animal bone material such as scapulae of oxen or carapaces of tortoises.{Editor, want to insert a couple of clear examples? For these and the following “scripts”? Using that character, written in that style, or selecting anything from the NIGENSHA series…}. The original brush-writing appears to have used cinnabar red, an expensive pigment reserved almost exclusively for royal, or ritual functions. But the divination had to be etched into the bone because the reverse side would be indented with evenly-spaced holes which, when subjected to intense heat over a fire, would crack in various directions, linking hole to hole, producing the ancestral “reply” as carved on the obverse side, and which should thus remain legible through the heating. Related in character-configuration but far more opulent in its undulating stroke-widths is the highly pictorial script found inscribed in intaglio (hollow form) on the inside ancient bronze vessels.

The reason for this divergence becomes clear when we examine the respective materials and implements used in their execution. Divination-bone characters are made with a sharp knife carving onto fibrous surfaces prone to splitting. They therefore tend to be “twig-writing” with fairly straight lines incised throughout. On the other hand, bronze inscriptions are the result of casting from pottery moulds, where first a rounded stylus was used to engrave character-forms onto malleable clay still in the leather-hard state. Here it is easy, and natural, for the blunt instrument to turn on itself and create richly rounded indentations in the clay. These markings were made on the observe moulds from which clay core-moulds were to be cast, core-moulds which would during the bronze-casting process be placed on the inside of the combined piece-mould arrangement, to decorate the inside of the final bronze vessel’s lid or body. Core-moulds bear the markings on the outside, in relief form, like present-day relief or “red-character” seals. Finally, through the reverse transfer process of casting, the graceful fully rounded markings emerge in intaglio (or hollow) form on the inside of the bronze vessel’s lid, or on the bottom inside the body. Proliferating in later stages, bronze inscriptions became increasingly longer texts.

As increasing numbers of words came to be used, replacing the clan insignia with historical accounts of clannish exploits, the need arose for adequate spacing of the words. Vertical columns became de rigeur, with increasing need for uniformity of character-size. Thus complex characters with their various protuberances like antlers and grasses began to “fold” or curve inward, creating a remarkable appearance unique to Chinese script. This was called the Greater Seal or dazhuan script. In time the doubled-up curves grew in length and grace, evolving their own majestic if labyrinthine beauty. Well over a millennium later toward the end of the third century BCE, with the first unification and formation of empire, the Lesser Seal script was ordained. This marks one of the earliest recorded examples of political control of the arts, where the First Emperor Qin shihuangdi ordered an empire-wide unification – and simplification of all units of measure, transportation and communication, including chariot axles and the script.

When the versatile bamboo was discovered as a convenient medium for writing, its segments were cut into strips of equal length, lined in parallel and string-bound at the two ends, forming long horizontal surfaces that could be stored in rolled-up form as scrolls. Here the scribe worked his characters within the widths of each bamboo strip, and the notion of “column” was naturally reinforced. Brushwork was limited horizontally but had ample room for creative expansion lengthwise. Indeed, we find the rich black ink graphs on bamboo and wood strips often graced with long “tails” that trail downward forming a bulge mid-stroke, and a point at the end. The scribe is thoroughly savouring the pleasure of drawing his wrist down the length of the slip exerting added weight to press down on the brush-belly causing the swell, and, as the wrist lifts off into the air, for the brush to resume its former pointed stance. Thus was born the so-called “clerical” or li script found in such plenitude on bamboo-scroll and wood-strip documents unearthed from distant corners of the empire’s once vast realm.

With the state expanding and its bureaucracy burgeoning, hapless scribes began to feel stressed by their mountainous workload. In doing their “paper-work” they began to save time by reducing the number of lift-offs of the wrist between strokes or characters, where the wrist usually rises to gain purchase for the next clean attack. This reduction of upward movement caused the brush-stroke to double back on itself, leaving loop-like ink traces of the wrist-motions originally performed mid-air. These came to be called linking strokes, as they linked consecutive strokes, also successive characters, resulting in a fairly cursive appearance. Thus was born the cursive script style, caoshu (often erroneously translated as “grass” script). In developing the cursive manner, many intermediate strokes were eliminated, radically reducing the structural elements of many characters. This became in time so hard to read that officials wrote protests “against cursive script” (fei caoshu) complaining that such scribbles had become idiosyncratic, mostly incomprehensible, and must be outlawed.

A more moderate mode, the “running” or xingshu script, emerged that retained most of the basic strokes while retaining some linking strokes to add continuity and fluidity to the flow. This trend seems to have coincided with the invention of paper around the first century CE, a splendid, fibrous and absorbent medium, unrestricted as to size or shape, being as long and as wide as the frame for the pulp-straining sieve allowed. The new “elbow-room” once more encouraged side-way expansion in stroke-formation. Although silk had long been used for writing in ink, cinnabar or black lacquer, its prodigious costs precluded extensive use. Paper, easily produced with bark, bamboo or rag pulp, quickly became a popular medium, replacing the bamboo-scroll form of bound strips. Here finally, was born the formal or regular script, the kaishu.

Brush-stiffness and Stroke-form

The Chinese brush-tip seems to have been shaped since the earliest Neolithic times to end in a point rather than lying flat along one plane. This allowed from the beginning the play of undulating widths within strokes or lines created by changes in wrist-pressure. The earliest brushes excavated so far already had tufts of hair bound tightly at the thick end, and were affixed to a rod or hollow tube by more string. The hair-tips were thin and short. The resulting strokes similarly, were short, and without too much variation in stroke-widths.

As the tips became longer, sometimes also fatter, brush-strokes began to show greater variety. When calligraphy as an art attained the pinnacle of Chinese reverence as the highest art form around the fourth century CE, brushtip furs comprised mostly of weasel hair, a relatively tough fibre with a strong bounce which the Chinese call “hard” or “stiff”. A major aspect of the expertise and astounding grace of the calligraphy ascribed at the time to the “Sage of Calligraphy” Wang Xizhi was the ability to create a softly pliant, sinuous but substantial “feel”, “touch” or bichu with such tough hairs.

In time the tips came to made of mixed hairs, including the softer hairs of goat. The mixed-fur tip allowed for easier formation of resilient strokes and graceful curves. Toward the latter part of the second millennium CE, calligraphers of the Qing dynasty took pride in the reverse ability to produce a fairly upright and firm feel with brushes made entirely of the white, soft goat hairs. There was especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries CE a major revival of interest in various ancient script styles, including Bronze Inscriptions, and a major calligraphy renascence swept across the realm.

Calligraphy Today

Artists nowadays use a mixture of brushes, from the scribe’s traditional weasel hair, to full-blown large tips of goat, rabbit hair, and an assortment of other animal hairs, all singly plucked and bound into various hair-mixtures and shapes. The four masters in the present exhibition have access to all the materials and traditions that Qing calligraphers had. And they are each heir to the richly associative visual tradition of the Chinese script. This is aside from the two-millennia history of Chinese calligraphy itself, with its many masters and script-style exponents.

But unlike the past, calligraphy today is no longer the basic vessel for communication. For the last century with the introduction of pencils, fountain pens, ball-point pens, eventually the typewriter and computer, let alone telephone and internet, verbal communication has relied virtually entirely on these, more “modern” means. Even most shop-signs, large and obtrusive in typical Chinese fashion, are mostly formed with characters off-set from a ready palette of commercial computer-generated “type-faces”.

But for New Years and ritual celebrations where spiritual needs predominate, hand-inscribed banners and scrolls once more flourish in the streets. In Japan more than in China, calligraphy as an art of hand-transmitted energy, continues to hold sway and many artists make a good living creating calligraphy as visually distinctive names for buildings, as decoration on folding screens, sliding doors, fabric hangings on shop fronts, writ-large on vases, plates, even personal attire including purses and scarves. Children continue to take calligraphy classes after school even as violin and ballet lessons have become common extra-curricular obsessions. But in Chinese society calligraphy has become more reserved, less utilitarian, elevating itself to a “fine art.” And as such, it has become even more exclusively a social commodity for cultural one-upmanship. This is in keeping with tradition, since painting, poetry and calligraphy had been “The Three Perfections” among the ancient elite, scholar-statesmen all, who themselves wielded the brush and were more than competent in turning out a good-looking manuscript. But among non-Chinese who love art for the aesthetic experience, Chinese calligraphy as it evolves more and more towards abstraction, is becoming ever more accessible.

We may well ask, then, with calligraphy a less common sight, but with literacy far greater than in the past, do we need to “understand” calligraphy to appreciate it? This is certainly no more the case than in music. The greatest idealist (literati) painter since the Qing, Wang Jiqian (C.C. Wang), and recently himself become a calligrapher extraordinaire, likes to discuss brushwork in terms of music.

Brushwork is like a voice. The painting is like the story which provides the narrative, the message. Those who don’t understand go to the Opera in order to “watch” the battles and the love scenes. But those who know, the aficionados, go with their eyes closed, to hear the singer and follow the voice. We go to “listen” to Mei Lanfang, not to “watch” acrobatics.

Clearly this form of appreciation had its origins in calligraphy, long before it was transferred to the “reading” of paintings. In calligraphy, the ancient Chinese read every nuance in the same way they enjoyed music, following the life-flow as the energy moved, now large now small, now high now low, twisting, swelling, leaping and settling. Herein lies the abstract, but palpable thrill of enjoying Chinese brush art. It has to do with the life force itself, and nothing could be more pure, and at the same time more universal, than the art of calligraphy.

For this reason one need not be conversant with the anatomy of Chinese writing or be able to decipher characters and understand the message. Rather, one need only to “listen” to the brushwork as it moves through time by following its progress in space, and reliving the artist’s creative act. It is like savouring the singing of an opera sung in a different tongue.

Let us consider the Four Masters of the Late-Twentieth Century we have here, for example. Coming from vastly different backgrounds and developing their art in contrasting environments, they have all arrived at a common point of no return in the evolution of their ancient art: they have transcended the utilitarian function of calligraphy and have given full play to its associative, pictorial and compositional potential.

In their own ways, they each explore the rich legacy of their tradition, playing on the meaning of particular words, the visual structure of particular characters, the double-meaning produced by certain imagery. This aspect is relatively new to Chinese calligraphy where tradition has focussed on evocation of certain Tang and Song masters or of more ancient script-styles like bronze inscriptions. Our four artists have China’s long cultural memory at their disposal but individually, and as a “phase” in the history of the art, they are opening up new horizons. Some explore the significance of isolated words as we see here in the works of Wang Fangyu and Tseng Yuho, or they lump the whole into one image – without sacrificing those essential qualities of excellence traditionally demanded of good brushwork, as a superlative “voice”.

On this point, on the criteria for brushwork-excellence, there has been remarkable consensus throughout the two millennia of empire. It is all the more remarkable because no one actually “explained” these criteria in verbal form as essays, poems or colophons, till the very late Qing dynasty when a Manchu artist like Tangdai discussed the problem. But when we check back on preceding times, though styles and contents change, we see that these essential criteria for excellence have remained constant. Tangdai wrote:

The principles of brushwielding (yongbi) reside in control by the heart/mind of the wrist-movements. There must be suppleness within firmness. One must be able to release and withdraw [energy in the brushstrokes] and not be ruled by the brush. Brushwork must be centered, zhongfeng. By zhongfeng I do not mean holding the brush upright. Feng is the tip of the brush: if [mostly] the tip is used [in a centered manner], then touching the [paper] surface, the resulting brushwork will be lively, rounded and mixed, yuanhun, and not dead, wooden, ban. On the other hand, using only the belly of the brush, [with the brush held aslant], the resulting brushwork will be either sharp like carving, or flat. To achieve a powerful expression merely by means of slanted brushwielding will result in [undesirable] angles and corners…

- Tangdai (pupil of Wang Yuanqi), in Huishi fawei (Suggestions on Painting) 1716.

What Tangdai points to is a sense of inner balance, and an inner reserve that does not “show off” with overt gesticulations. Rather, good strokes are drawn as it were will full breath but where little air is actually used, leaving most “in reserve”, etc. These criteria in fact are identical to those for good singing or dancing, where anything resembling “falling off-centre” does not make the audience nervous, but they can remain calm in the knowledge that everything is in the artist’s more-than-adequate control. A dramatic example of the “pure voice” quality of brushwork is C. C. Wang’s 93090817 which bursts with excitement as the brush (moving from the top right corner) begins the piece with a thumping attack of thick, black ink drawn downwards to the right where immediately -piano subito, – it softens and loops ribbon-like to the left and, whispering upward in a northeasterly diagonal like a muted violin, flips the tip back, pulling downward with more weight for the vertical. Here, taking a breath during the soft lower loop with the brush-hairs turned out, the brush dashes tempestuously left toward 7-o’clock past the original left-edge of the space, only to fly back with equal speed and urgency in a huge, scratchy oval that gathers momentum for the next attack – on the left-hand radical of the second character. The breathing, panting, and swishing animation of this work continues unabated to the end. Yet on closer look we see that all strokes are formed with deliberation, carrying each a full measure of weight and inner balance. “Good” calligraphy may look hurried or even frenzied, but in fact is always executed with inner poise and assurance. In 94052618 Wang achieves the visceral effect of the fabled Autobiography inscribed in “raving cursive” ascribed to the Tang monk Huaisu, using only a cheap felt-pointed marker pen. And in 950227 he lets flying furious swirls, forgetting even any formal evocation of Chinese writing, keeping only its primary criteria for brushwork-excellence. With bald daring, he further “colours” the loops and spaces so as to fill the entire space with “positive” significance, leaving no “leftover space”.

Like a gyroscope, excellence in brushwork resides in this inner centredness and assured balance regardless of the apparent “rpm” or axle tilt. This is what the knowing eye searches for, in exactly the same manner as the connoisseur listens to a singer, demanding that the voice be full yet reserved, rounded and not rasping, and no matter how soft a whisper for the finale, that the ending be never deplete of energy or out of “air”.

All four masters delve into the realm of creative play with structural components of the script, rearranging their inter-relationship and ratio with a boldness not previously witnessed in this tradition-bound art form. That is, they play with the history of Chinese calligraphy, evoking the ancient script-styles spawn in different media, now all on paper, using a soft pliant brush, but they also take far greater liberties with the rearrangement of parts. Tseng Yuho, like C. C. Wang, in certain pieces gives vent to sheer indulgence in “superlative singing” and runs pure melismas as it were, of the brush over the paper, without bothering to write any “words” at all.

And like C. C. Wang, Tseng Yuho has long been a consummate master of painting. From large screens to delicate frames, her work has always shimmered like jewels glowing in a poet’s garden. Yet in calligraphy her energy resounds with the power of a mountain and she proves herself a formidable master of this venerable art as well. Brought up in Peking, she had studied privately with Prince Pujin and thus learned the insider’s perspective of imperial art and taste, and the brushwork arts formed part of her earliest experience in appreciation as well as in performance. Her early calligraphy includes metres-long multi-columned scrolls with characters of enormous size, a feat difficult to sustain over any long stretch. After moving to Hawaii she saw first-hand the widely experimental modes of American art, and indirectly witnessed the birth of Abstract Expressionism. With characteristic curiosity,she lost no time in reconsidering her own choices in painting. However, from the start, she chose her own directions, creating her own innovations, not so much in order to please the critics, but to please her own emerging and broadening discernment of beauty. Her creativity gradually evolved into two remarkably separate spheres, where in calligraphy she provides as it were the yang hoariness to complement the ephemeral yin lyricism of her painting.

Wang Fangyu takes pleasure in redistributing the value and relative function of character-parts with specific reference to their respective meaning, as well as the meaning of the word as a whole. Most startling is his “design” for the two characters Baishi (white stone), where the two characters overlap and the whole resembles one large white rock, with a starkness evocative of a Mondrian. He enjoys combining two rods into one form, or separating a single character into two. In huanmeng (Illusory – or chimerical – Dream), Wang creates a labyrinth on the outside, tucking the “dream” inside the right-hand space like a startled Munch face with open mouth, screaming in muffled silence. Or he would pull a phoenix apart into its components wind (above), and bird below. Wang has long been fascinated by the 17-century royalist painter-calligrapher monk Bada shanren, as well as a knowledgeable collector and connoisseur of his works. The upward-staring and attenuated form of the bird-graph pays homage to the bristling energy of the Qing master’s eccentric works. And in his 1980 Turtle he infuses the character for this long-lived animal with hoary antiquity using tough, slow, even strokes in parallel, while jokingly evoking a Western mood by structuring the graph with an apparent one-point perspective, diminishing in size toward the right.

Wang Fangyu’s whimsical renditions are surely enjoyable in their own right, but the pleasure doubles with character-recognition since his work is alive with verbal and visual puns.

Youngest among them by nearly two generations, and a product of Taiwan culture, Grace Tung Yang-tze after a brief early spate in painting has been single-mindedly pursuing the challenges of calligraphy. In artistically conservative Taiwan, Tung is virtually the only one to “depart” from tradition, and to imbue the art with new vitality. Local critics, with little reference to the “world outside” of Taiwan, uniformly mention her “difference” and “newness”. In her work, unlike Wang Fangyu and Tseng Yuho, she avoids playing on a word’s associative image, but seeks resolutely to meet the challenges of each particular group of characters on purely formal terms, thus making of her calligraphy, like C. C. Wang’s, an abstract art like music without words, an opera without a story.

In this sense Grace Tung and C. C. Wang share the sheer delight in spirit-resonance with the ancient masters whose calligraphy was admired purely on visual terms without regard to “content”. Tung loves the play of textures created with different densities of ink, often allowing the brush hairs to splay as they move, creating the impression of wind-like speed; the play of light and dark when varying the water-content in each charge of the brush; and the abstract compositional possibilities for different groups of ancient sayings. Here, like C. C. Wang, she merely uses the “text” as a pretext for brushplay and, living in Taiwan among a mostly Chinese audience, her works have had to communicate as literature. For with her history-conscious audience and she cannot, as Tseng Yuho or C. C. Wang, indulge in the wordless delight of pure calligraphic brushplay. Nevertheless, in spite of, and through, her legible constructions and innovative character-size ratios and com-positions, the appreciation of vitality and energy is a central feature of her work.

At we peek across the threshold into the third millennium since cultural unification, we find in these four calligraphers a common voice that echoes the consciousness of our times. Threatened with planetary disasters, people the world over are beginning to bring to the surface humanity’s ancient understanding and appreciation of energy. Of energy as the source of life. All matter, all mass or form, is a physical manifestation of invisible energy. And here, in transcending verbal communication, these four masters share with us, in their distinct ways, their experience – and the universality – of this energy.

___________________

NOTES:

Ancient masterpieces ranged in “content” from the more formal dedicatory inscriptions for particular shrines, palaces and studios, to letters mourning a death in the family, and informal personal notes accompanying a gift of mandarin oranges, or complaining of a stomach ache.

See the modern evocation of this form in Tseng Yuho’s 1996 work in which the moon with splayed legs seems to bounce the sun on its head like a playful seal balancing a ball on its nose.

Note the seething waters in lang (wave) character in Tseng Yuho’s 1992 work, and the play of interactive spirals in the right-hand radical evoking rolling turbulence.

See Tseng Yuho’s work Marsh showing many stalks of “grass” rising from shallow water.

Here we can see that the bottom element, identical in both words, produces the sound, xiao, but the “radical” on top, leads us to the meaning – here arrived at aurally rather than visually.

Here with altar and joined, clearly, both elements contribute to the meaning while neither provides the phonetic value. Purists will argue that the he element is pronounced xia when combined with a “water radical” as well. But this argues for one or the other of these mutation xia characters having followed the phonetic-shift of the other. But this argument still leaves the original sound-change unexplained.

Consider Wang Fangyu’s Si (Thinking) where the heart is stretched out comfortably at the bottom to enfold or encompass the “field” element above.

In her 1996 work Tseng Yuho gives us three examples of the seal script in the character shou (longevity).

Wang Jiqian has been long (if reluctantly) acknowledged as a leading collector-connoisseur of Chinese painting. Since he himself is the product of the Dong Qichang-Wang Yuanqi-Dai Xi- Wu Hufan tradition of Orthodox wenrenhua, I sought to cajole, if not coerce detailed and concrete explanation from him of this mystique, and to demystify this central aspect of Chinese art, one which has for decades kept Western scholars at bay. Fortunate circumstances enabled me to conduct a series of intensive interviews over seven years (1971-78) resulting in an extensive dialogue which has since appeared in Chinese translation as Huayulu (National Palace Museum Monthly of Art, nos, 13 and 15-29, 1984-5). The original English version, which should be entitled What Everyone Wants to Know About Chinese Painting but Never Dared. Ask, due to its question-answer format, has to-date failed to gain acceptance for publication.

Anatomy and Physiology of Chinese Painting and the Pathology of Connoisseurship

The Anatomy and Physiology of Chinese Painting
And the Pathology of Connoisseurship

Sainsbury Conference on Chinese Painting
At the University of East Anglia
Norwich, UK 12-14 September 1994
Dedicated to Sir Ernst Gombrich, Keynote Speaker

Abstract:
The essay delves into the basic ingredients and living elements that form a piece of art. Beginning with the physical ingredients of brush-constructions, we proceed to the act of brushwielding, and finally enter the state of creation where a Master’s work becomes inimitable and unique.

* * *

Physical Parameters: The Anatomy of Chinese Painting

The time has come to review what has concerned many of us for years, and some of us for decades, in the wider context of World Art. One of the first adjustments we make when talking about Chinese painting as specialists is to don the spectacles of history. We plunge at once into an abyss of antiquity to cite the Neolithic Yellow River dweller who first fashioned the pointed painting brush out of animal hairs. A critical juncture in the evolution of this eastern branch of painting is that the tufts of hair were so gathered as to form a pointed-tip. This brush can and did create linear decorations on earthen vessels that show internal undulations in the line. Some of these lines form endings in clear sharp points, confirming that the ancestral brush was not too different from the implement used in China today. It was not, for example, like the stiff flat brush used for Western oil painting, nor even close to the nondescript watercolour brush with its languishing furs lacking in resilience or a firm point, that is better suited for washes than for sinewy brush strokes.

The Chinese fur-tipped brush, from the start, had a built-in resilience and bounce that gave rise to varieties of artistic expression. This, since the earliest examples, has been the backbone of Chinese painting and calligraphy and, as such, has had an inestimable effect on the entire evolution of Chinese painting down the millennia.

The red, black and white earthen pigments used for colouring the vessels can find parallels in other early cultures. But the Yellow River Dweller’s choice of burnt soot for black ink, and vermilion for red was indigenous and characteristic. The two colours assumed primal significance and since the Xia and certainly the Shang dynasties have become deeply rooted in the Chinese consciousness.

The colour red has special significance not only for the Chinese, of course. But in China, to this day, it has continued to exert a primary significance over nearly six millennia. It seems that red held some sacred if not magical function, at least in the highly structured social context of Shang society. Red was used to write the words of the oracle for divination, for supernatural (if quite frequent) communication with divine ancestors. The pointed-tipped fur brush was dipped in vermilion (a costly mineral containing mercuric sulfide), and the noumenal characters were inscribed with reverence (this can be seen by the fact that the draw of the brush was slow and deliberate). Little by little, the powerful words of augury took form, and a divining question was phrased. Once inscribed in vermilion, and propitiatory spirits having been invoked in the writing, the energized pieces were handed over to the carver who incised the characters with a sharp instrument, etching each stroke deeply into the bony substance for the final trial by fire.

Sacred Attributes of Vermilion in Antiquity

Why was expensive vermilion used for what may be considered only the “underwriting” of these documents?

Red continued to be endowed with significance in writing down through the Warring States period when treaties were inked in vermilion. In fact, throughout history red is used to mark auspicious or remarkable passages within written texts. The Seal of State as well as the personal seal were always impressed in red paste. Here again, this sort of quasi-magical writing – in the invocation of one’s Name – would twist and curve within a red border, in red – or in reverse on a red “ground”.

On the other hand, this colour is never used in connection with death or sorrow (during mourning periods, significantly, seals are impressed not in red but in black) – unless the deceased had enjoyed mountainous longevity past age eighty. Then he or she would have lived a long enough life for everyone to be grateful and happy. Such funerals may be framed as joyful occasions celebrating the triumph of life. And red is often be used.

We may conclude that red was in some way associated with blood, symbol of life. Blood courses only in a living body, and ceases to flow upon death. We can surmise that red had been associated with life, with the living, life force that renders something or someone alive.

To those officiating at Chinese rituals, the divine ancestors or heavenly spirits have always been very much alive, imbued with a palpable presence, a force that is para-physical. To rouse their attention, therefore, the supplicant had to impart an equally vital sense of life. Hence red banners, red writing. Hence firecrackers.

Animation in Chinese Brushwork

This brings us back to the writing brush. Its substantial resilience and its pointed tip enable this simple tool to produce, using different wrist-pressures and by wielding the brush-stem at different angles, all manner of brushstrokes. A single vertical or horizontal stroke can appear to breathe with such unique dynamics, – dynamics that translated into a Western cultural context recall the melisma in a vocalise, – that the trained Chinese eye actually perceives life in it.

In other words, whether it is in the colour, or in the form, a peculiarly Chinese requirement for a piece of calligraphy or painting to be perceived as a work of art, is that it speak of life, and transmits to the viewer a sense of being alive. This is the single criterion that is valued by the Chinese as excellent or desirable, in all forms of art. There are other desiderata that vary depending on the period and, within each period, on the viewer. But the presence of motivating life is sine qua non.

One last ingredient is the painting surface. This material has over five millennia evolved from (slip-painted) earthenware to (lacquer-decorated) wood, to (relief-decorated) cast bronze, (inlay-decorated) bronze, to (pigment-painted) silk and, (ink-inscribed) bamboo slips and wooden tablets, (linear and relief impressed) brick and, early in the first century CE, (ink-inscribed) mulberry bark paper. In each instance the symbiosis of writing or painting implement and surface material so conditioned the product that the appearance of the resulting art forms, painting or calligraphy, underwent radical change with each change of surface material. Yet we can detect throughout this period that essentially rather primitive instinct which continues unabated to imbue the work with life. In an almost magical fashion, the work tends to function as a talisman that has been enlivened by this life-evoking red, spiritually-potent writing, or with ritually-charged images that breathe with life that, – significantly, – transmit to the viewer the same apprehension of vitality, the sense of life coursing through the veins. The viewer experiences a spiritual or energy-transfusion, as it were, and the process of viewing acquires a temporal and psycho-physiological significance that may be lacking in post-primitive and pre-modern Western art.

Anatomically or physically, therefore, we have the implements, the images, and the brush-traces themselves.

The Physiology of Chinese Brushwork

We may also consider the brush arts of China in terms of physiology. If we dip into texts surviving from after the first century CE, we find that from the outset, discourses on calligraphy (and two to three centuries later on painting) refer to these arts in anatomical terms. They attribute to calligraphy veritable physical attributes including gu (bone), sui (marrow), jing (sinew), xue (blood), rou (flesh), mai (pulse), etc. This lexicon established an anatomical basis for Chinese perception of calligraphy and, by implication, a physiological framework for its application. These are the categories by which the strokes, curves, dots and dashes are re-viewed in calligraphy. They are subject to interpretation in organic, anatomical metaphor where the bone-structure of the character, the marrow of its implied or expressed temperament, the energy-tension of its sinew, the coursing of its blood, the resilience of its flesh, and the dynamics of its pulsation, are aspects that involve the viewer in the process of creation itself. By implication the viewer, too, must himself or herself be a member of the writing elite who practices Chinese writing, is experienced in brushwielding and familiar with the amazing transformative power of the pointed brush as it interacts with various surfaces.

It is clear that without a priori understanding of Chinese painting and calligraphy in terms of anatomy and, by implication, physiology, we may miss the essence of China’s ancient and living brush arts.

Moving from taxonomy to function or physiology (thence to quality), we have feng (wind or air), qi (pneuma, prana or breath-energy), yun (resonance, reverberation), shengdong (living and moving), bianhua (change and transformation), leigan (empathy), and the like. These terms come from a sixth-century text that focusses on the magic of painting, the Guhua pinlu (Evaluation of Ancient Painting). Figurative painting at that, where the spiritual presence and energy of the sitter was invoked by means of living brushwork.1_

The Six Laws of Chinese Painting

The central (and most discussed) passages of this brief text are the first two Guidelines, quintessential formulation heading the famous Six Guidelines (liufa). 2_ they are: 1. qiyun shengdong, living dynamism of energy (or life-motion) in empathetic resonance, and 2. gufa yongbi, brushwielding along [organic] principles of bone structure. These guidelines for quality-assessment are not only by comparison less tangible, less concrete than the ensuing guidelines, they function in essence as sole criteria which in China imbue a brushed artwork with value. Loftiness of expression resides in these life-factors: dynamic, psychic resonance or empathy that is channelled to the viewer.

The craft of achieving formal resemblance on the other hand has always been of lesser importance, and comes under headings hardly unfamiliar to Western readers:

3. yingwu xiangxing, formal representation in accordance with the subject.

4. suilei fucai application of colours in accordance with the category.

5. jingying weizhi management and placement [of elements] in accordance with plans.

6. chuanyi moxie copy [good paintings] for transference.

Painting in China, like calligraphy, is perceived (and experienced) as process of becoming. This approach differs fundamentally from a perception of calligraphy or painting as plain image or fait accompli. In the West the Word was with God and the Word was God where the Word, a nominal concept, is equated with God, also a nominal concept, in transference of two relatively completed phenomena requiring no time. It is an instantaneous and eternal equation. But in China the Word, as it were, is becoming God – and we, in watching the transfiguration, partake in the transferring and transforming process through a sort of visceral empathy. Significantly we too, by partaking in this temporal process, become God. We too are imbued with that life force generated by the artist in the process of creation. Unlike Western painting that we view as a completed statement from the outside, as detached observers, viewing a Chinese painting we replay its creation and become party to its evolutionary process. Here too the equation is instantaneous and eternal. But it involves time, experienced as eternity in perpetual transformation, in an eternity that is dynamic.

What we perceive and experience, in a Chinese frame of mind therefore, is a complex of psycho-physiological dynamics. But to the untrained eye, these dynamics may remain undetected and unsuspected.3_

Here I speak of an eye-mind that has been conditioned for centuries by an internalized psycho-physiological exploration of the movements of pneuma, prana or qi. Such movements are generated by the gentlest, subtlest flowing processes within the mind, and they can be initiated by the slightest exercise of will (what the modern Chinese call yinian.) Tremendous internal coursing of energy is summoned by this yinian, but it can also be triggered by the act of watching Chinese calligraphy or painting. The viewer participates, along with the artist, in the creative act and, as it were, paints the picture all over again. At the same time, he enjoys it as a completed work and enters the fluid, ever-shifting space to which the image alludes, and takes an imaginary journey tracing each brush-trace from inception to conclusion, from first to last stroke. Such journeys or empathetic participation were grounded two thousand years ago largely in figurative painting, especially portraiture that brought out the internal spirit or essence of the sitter. Around the 8-9th centuries focus began to shift toward more cosmic concerns where seasons are evoked, acting upon particular terrains, when artist and viewer join in participating in Nature’s creation of landscapes of different types, responding to different meteorological conditions.

A visual experience of such brushwielding creates in the experienced Chinese viewer a resonance that lingers long after the viewing. For in such this type of empathetic, creative viewing, the viewer experiences living qualities.

Let us step back from pat definitions, from idioms we have memorized and repeat without thinking, like qiyun shengdong – and imagine as visitors from outer space might imagine, what the Chinese of fourteen-hundred years ago were trying to encapsulate in this expression.

If asked what we might cite as conditions for greatness in painting, we might imagine the most important thing is to represent a three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional surface, and we might set the principal concern as yingwu xiangxing – formal representation in accordance with the subject. Yet this guideline in China was ranked third of six criteria. We would then ask, “What were the first two conditions, and why were they so important as to be ranked above physical resemblance?”

Spiritual Dimensions Beyond Visual Stimuli

Here we touch on the quintessence of Chinese aesthetics: which may be defined as “identification with living universal forces”. More than resemblance to any thing, it requires that the spirit or essence of the thing be recreated, as if alive. A special condition is that the life force be manifested by qi – personal or cosmic energy (micro and macro). This primary ingredient, qi, an invisible quantity, had long since transcended corporeality – yet reigns as the chief criterion for paintings the impact of which is transmitted through the optical/visual process of seeing. Qi is recognized in China as the causa vivendi, the reason nature’s is alive.4_ Clearly, qi in such a context cannot resemble the chaotic motion of debris flying in a typhoon. Rather, it must be a sequential, serial or pulsating manifestation of an eternally self-transforming energy whose sub-units interrelate to each other in a harmonic, rhythmic fashion.

Thus, in the second character of the first criterion we encounter the qualitative condition, yun. Wave-like energy that must be in empathetic resonance, where one set of reverberations in the universe will cause another to resonate in sympathy, in something resembling Kepplerian Weltharmonik.

So we have on the one hand the raw material of life itself in the form of energy and, on the other hand, this energy’s deployment as manifested in orderly, natural harmony, that is, engendering a sense of order. To put it in reverse, which is the Chinese phrasing, the “ordered series of dynamic life energies must be alive and imbued with motion.”

Put together, qi-yun, individual and cosmic energy that is resonant in harmony, is altogether quite a handful. It seems reasonable to suggest that such criteria can arise only in a highly civilized, complex culture that has enjoyed continued reassessment and confirmation of its values uninterrupted over millennia.

Thus we have a precariously balanced primary condition for qualitative supremacy in which the generative and the conditional are paired, where the dynamism of raw forces are tempered with the seasoned resonance of sympathetic, empathetic or harmonic vibrations.

Particle and Wave or The Chineseness of Chinese Painting

let us isolate the attributes that make a painting Chinese. Indeed, a central concern among twentieth-century Chinese artists has been the definition of “Chinese painting” for our day. Artists are preoccupied with reception of their works in the eyes of an ever wider, ever more modern and ever more international audience. By late twentieth century, it is no longer surprising to learn that one’s work has appeared in journals of far distant lands and is being discussed by strangers in unknown tongues. Many painters now feel that their work should be not only contemporary, but also recognizably Chinese.

These twin concerns reflect the cultural paranoia of developing nations which feel somehow ‘behind the times’, either as if self-worth could be quantified by GNP, or as if intrinsic value depended on stylistic considerations. What matters today to both artist and art-dealer is the image of Chinese art in the eyes of the “more advanced, more developed” cultures such as America or Western Europe.

Reacting to Western industrial hegemony, Asian cultures with relatively long histories like China and Japan have revealed their characteristic differences: while Japan rushed pall mall to assert her ‘modernity’ by hiding her ‘Japaneseness’ in her more publicized arts, Chinese artists took pains to ensure their cultural heritage be largely manifest in their art.

The definition of Chinese painting engendered bitter controversies among these artists, centering on medium and image. They insisted that failure to use traditional media or failure to produce recognizably Chinese images rendered a painting non-Chinese. They would attack an opponent for being un-Chinese because he painted with oils or acrylics on canvas or board. On the other hand, it was equally easy to put one down as antediluvian for painting images resembling traditional landscapes.

In thus defining – and confining – Chineseness, both schools commit the proverbial folly of focussing on externals like “pelt and fodder”5_, missing the inner essence.

For it is this internal life that sheds light on the nature of the artwork, its ethnic roots, and its values. But they can only be gleaned through the work. They transcend and permeate it, but they do not reside on the surface in the medium or even in its image.

Take for example, the works of the Jesuit Giuseppe Castiglione (Lang Shining 1688-1766), painter for the Qianlong emperor of flowers, trees, animals in landscape done with Chinese materials and executed in Chinese court style. Yet in fact, these paintings do not ‘feel’ Chinese. Why should this be so? Painting is the direct expression of an individual’s response to living which, like singing, writing, love-making or cooking, reflect the imprint of his consciousness, and from Castiglione’s paintings we detect no Chinese consciousness.

Why do we know without lab-testing its ingredients or appearance that what we are eating is Chinese food, for example? We recognize it as Chinese even if the ingredients are foreign. Like potatoes, tomatoes or sweet corn (all natives of America). For it is how the artist or chef deals with the materials, what values he assigns to them, and not the materials themselves, and even less their image, which determine the nature of the end product. Sweet corn boiled and served on the cob is typical American fare while stir-fried in its under-developed state with mixed vegetables, or floating its mature kernels in a clear broth with ‘egg-drop’, makes it Chinese.

In painting, how do we find that Chineseness? In painting, as in food, it is not the medium or subject, but the way of seeing, that conditions how an artist’s perception becomes re-presented or expressed in the artwork. And Chinese painting of the past millennia collectively points to a perception of the world that is generated by the notion of change: where change or transformation has been the single universal constant. This change or transformation is in essence immaterial and fluid. Western painting has tended toward faithful representation of the present moment and of the immutable, and appears by comparison corporeal. This was especially marked in the half millennium from the Renaissance up to the late nineteenth century.

To Chinese eyes much of Western painting has the effect of still-life. To them, the notion of learning portraiture by drawing after plaster casts would be as anathema as learning about the human body by dissecting a corpse. Studying musculature through autopsies cannot be more alien from the Chinese consciousness since the Chinese have never been interested in corporeality as such, but have always striven to capture and transmit the vitality and particularity of spirit of the subject (or the landscape, or the fruit or flower). To the Chinese, anatomy has been necessary merely to activate the physiology, but has hardly been of interest in itself.

In close parallel is medicine where in China the study, accumulated knowledge and understanding of diagnostics and treatment are founded on invisible, systemic energies that course through the body in the context of cosmic energies. In contrast, Western medicine is founded on the investigation of individual and separately understood organs. To computer buffs, it is the difference between operating systems that unite the whole and individual data folders that differ from each other in content and function. China’s most ancient text, the Yijing (Book of Changes), reflects a perceptual consciousness of the universe and its principles whose constant is continual transformation, yi. It is not surprising, therefore, that expression of this consciousness informs Chinese painting regardless of material, subject matter, period or style. The single constant is that the work reflects a transformation in energy that is apprehended by the viewer in an experiential manner, transcending image or material.

Knowledgeable Chinese viewers re-experience the artistic process. In superior works this span of creative, generative time of being and becoming is perceived and experienced as transformation, as dynamic, shengdong movement. James Cahill once made the acute observation that Chinese painting is a performing art. This is entirely true, as the Chinese viewer replays the creative process of the artist, from beginning to finish, as in a piece of calligraphy which is read and replayed as dynamic wrist/brush energy-deployment in time and space.

Western painting by comparison appears more focussed, like individual frames in a movie, re-presenting a specific moment caught in a particular slice of time, – but not occupying time. These two modes of perception are two sides of the same coin, one residing in energy and the other in matter. They parallel the twin perceptions of light, one as wave, the other as particle. The Chinese perception, as wave, is concerned more with energy; the Western perception, as particle or matter, may be concerned more with formal content. Matter and energy are, of course, two aspects of the same thing and interchangeable. They appear to us as distinct phenomena because of the difference in the manifestation and our perceptual faculties. When manifested as energy, we can feel it and be conscious of it changing us – but we cannot see it. It is motion that is dynamic. As matter, it is still but has form; we see it and feel it. In this light, when Chinese artists want to paint a landscape, they are not interested so much in rendering the likeness of a specific place in a particular moment in time, as they are in capturing particular dynamics of a season acting upon a certain type of terrain. They wish to present meteorological transformations where cosmic forces – energy – are perceived, and re-presented, as living forces or energy that can affect natural elements like mountains and streams – matter – and where the latter are seen to respond to these transformative influences. Matter in Chinese painting undergoes constant change as a result of the circulation of the energies. Thus while Western viewers complain that Chinese landscapes have no proper perspective, they often fail to see that this is because in experiencing a Chinese landscape we move in our mind’s eyes through the various vistas. The shifts in foci are part and parcel of the ever-shifting vantage point of the roving spirit.

On a microcosmic plane, man as both subject and viewer, is able to move within this interchange between energy and matter, to travel in it and become part of it. In this way man becomes unified with the Way or Dao. The experience is fluid. Our mind, our psychic and spiritual energies, and those of the universe, come together in this psycho-physiological experience of reading a Chinese landscape painting.

The Pathology of Connoisseurship

Identifying (with) the Artist’s Heart-Print or DNA

We enter the landscape and tune our spirit-energy to that resonating in the painting. The result is a process of harmony in rhythms that transcend words or visual images. In this process, matter is changed into energy: our consciousness of corporeality is momentarily suspended and channelled into energy. The same process takes place in us when we become absorbed (or lost) in music, in loving, in meditation, in prayer, etc. We occupy time, and we lose our sense of our finite self and become transformed in communion – in union with experience that has no boundaries.

As the centuries passed, the foundation from which this stress on living motion was perceived underwent several changes in focal point. In the Han dynasty early in the history of empire, focus was on portraiture, on didactic figurative work. Energy was perceived in the subject, especially in the dotting of the pupil. By the Tang dynasty, as portrait reached its apogee, a more philosophical need swung the subject to landscape, and cosmic forces were portrayed, and their energies described in the most minute and moving ways. By the Mongol Yuan dynasty, the focus filtered down to the smallest physical ingredient: that is, in the brushwork itself. External form came to serve as foil for one’s superior brushwork, which was scrutinized at close range as if reading a love letter. And here every nuance of the artist’s wrist – as it were the author’s breathing – came to be reflected on the increasingly sensitive painting surface: the paper that became more and more absorbent with each succeeding century.

And here I would speak of the DNA – or the artist’s “heart print” – xinyin – that inimitable manner of his brushwielding which distinguishes his work from that of all others. From the fourteenth-century onwards, compositions have come to bear increasing resemblance to each other as increasing numbers of later artists worked “in the manner” of progressively fewer ancient masters. As compositional schemata are reduced and simplified, increasing stressed is laid on individual yongbi (or wrist-dance) characteristic of particular Old Masters. And instantly the imitators, especially forgers, stand out in glaring light. For they are not like the best of later painters, copying with love and reverence, or creating variations of, a well-loved ancient composition which activity while largely passive, is kindled by the spirit of love and appreciation that imbues the work with however little, a sense of lie. Instead, forgers merely seek to identify that aspect of an Old Master’s brushwork, to memorize his favoured brush-motif, cunfa, and fill huge areas of his spurious painting with this “hallmark brushwork” so that people will readily identify it, and mistake his production for an ancient masterpiece.

Inimitable Qualities of Individual Old Masters

While it is feasible to imitate outer aspects such as the costume or choreography (medium or image) of a celebrated artist, it is impossible to imitate his or her involuntary characteristics such as breathing, heartbeat – or brushwielding.

From the fourteenth-century on, Chinese painting has been about painting of Old Masters. One sought to reduce their brush-mode to certain typical, readily identifiable manners, and to make variations on them. To take James Cahill’s analogy one step further, later Chinese painting is a “performance art that seeks to create variations on an Old Master’s well-known themes. And here it becomes not too difficult to distinguish those artists who can under such circumstances imbue their work with life, from those who merely perform their set pieces by rote. Thus, for later Chinese painting, it is those very few who had the gift of impromptu – like the great jazz musicians of our day – who become the great originals, while the rest survived as also-rans – or as forgers.

I believe that it is only through this psycho-physiological immediacy and such empathetic reading that we can truly enter the world of Chinese painting as the best of Chinese artists and connoisseurs have been creating and experiencing it. And by keeping our eyes chaste (in the sense that Krishnamurti would have it, unsullied by preconceived notions) that we can identify in later Chinese painting the Master from the forger.

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NOTES:

1_ on the living quality of portraiture, we may refer to contemporary practices in certain Indian Ashrams where statues or photographs are through chanting and other rituals brought to life. Unlike the living subject, the living portrait is imbued with a living presence, which can be remarkably powerful. Once linked to the power and the presence of the portrait, the devotee (and sometimes-unsuspecting visitors) is brought face to face with the consciousness and universal power of the subject, usually a highly enlightened being. In this case the devotees have imbued the image with the living energy associated with a particular master (the sitter), energy reinforced by the collective devotion of the gathered monks trained in this type of ceremony.

2_ The Six Guidelines are found in Guhua pinlu (Classification of Ancient Painters) which has been associated for over a millennium with the Southern Qi artist Xie He (active early sixth century). It is a typical reference on standards excellence in the creation (and in the appraisal) of painting, written as much for painters as for the elucidation of collectors.

3_ The Six Guidelines are found in Guhua pinlu (Classification of Ancient Painters) which has been associated for over a millennium with the Southern Qi artist Xie He (active early sixth century). It is a typical reference on standards excellence in the creation (and in the appraisal) of painting, written as much for painters as for the elucidation of collectors.

4_ Chinese recognition of this invisible generative force and acknowledgment of its value above all else, may have had a history of a millennium, and can be found in the early Han text Liezi.

One day Duke Mu of Qin (r.659-621 BC) said to (the famous horse appraiser Sun Yang, zi) Bolo, “You are getting on in years. Do you have descendants [trained in the techniques of horse-appraisal] who can be dispatched to identify the fleetest horse in the realm for us?” Bolo replied, “Ordinary good horses can be identified by their looks, sinews and bone structure, and by their behaviour and posture. But the best horses under heaven are swift and fleeting in their appearance and disappearance, sometimes seeming as though non-existent, and sometimes as if lost. In this way they transcend the ordinary worldly dust and leave no traces. Your humble servant’s descendants are all of the lower order of connoisseurs and can identify merely the ordinary class of good horse; but they are unable to find the best horses under heaven. [However,] there is a man who has been helping me carry kindling wood named Jiufang Gao whose ability in horse-appraisal is not inferior to mine. Would that your liege give him an interview.”

Duke Mu summoned Jiufang Gao and duly sent him off to find the (fleetest) mount. Three months later Gao returned and said, “The horse has been found. It is in Shaqiu (southeast of Pingxiang Prefecture in present day Hebei.” Duke Mu said, “What type of horse is it?” Came the reply, “A yellow mare.” Retainers were dispatched to capture it. The fabled horse turned out to be a piebald stallion. Duke Mu was incensed and summoned Bolo, saying, “You were mistaken! The man you recommended as a connoisseur of horses cannot even distinguish a horse’s colour and gender, how could he possibly know how to appraise horses?” Bolo heaved a long sigh and said; “That Jiufang Gao has reached such a stage in his appraising of horses shows that he has surpassed your servant more than ten thousand times! What Gao studies is the spirit of Nature: he can grasp its fine inherent essence, and overlooks its gross external manifestations. He deeply penetrates the spirit, but forgets external bodily form. He looks at what he should look at, and does not look at what he need not; he sees what he should see, and does not see what he need not see. Such horse-appraising as Gao’s far surpasses mere horse-appraising.” When the horse arrived, it was indeed the fleetest under heaven.

5_ The Northern Song genius, Su Shi (1037-1101), decried modes of perception common to untutored critics who judged paintings by their formal appearances. In his day, the spontaneous kind of painting by scholars was considered ideally created and was viewed in the intuitive, direct experiential way of Jiufang Gao looking straight into a horse’s essential qualities of speed and endurance, forgetting external form. These are the spiritual qualities, qualities that transcend form, physical appearance, and certainly details of gender, all trivia of external ‘reality.’