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The thought of LIAO Wen-Tan The Creation Origin of his Landscape
2012-05-02 08:50:37

 

 by Hsiao Yun

 

In the early years when Mr. LIAO Wen-Tan was about at the age of 12, by chance he found a book named Mustard Garden in his neighbor’s house. It was a book about wooden engravings and engravers. As he was fond of painting, he had a stream of calling. He often came to his neighbor’s home, and borrowed that book to read. He also imitated the wooden engravings to make his own paintings at will. Gradually it opened a door for him to learn landscape paintings. Since then, he had an increasing interest in Chinese paintings.

As age was increasing, he began to read extensively art albums and the painting books on ancient and contemporary famous artists. Thus, his knowledge was increased. He often came to such kind of bookstores to page through painting books, and purchased workbooks and painting paper. He studied very hard.

At the age of 19, he went to an old “picture mounting” store to learn picture mounting, so he had more chances to touch ancient paintings and modern artists’ works. He was also acquainted with many calligraphers and painting artists then. When he had holidays after he got off duty, he himself imitated the painting books to practice painting at home. He often neglected sleep and meals, and stayed up till 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning. During the latter period when he worked at the “picture mounting” store, a teacher was invited to the store to teach painting. He was so lucky to watch the teacher teach painting, and watched his painting process. Through 30 more years of learning, he always loves painting. He ceaselessly researches the ways of creation on calligraphy and painting.      

He is very self-demanding on his creation attitude. He has his own idea and skill. He is not influenced by the social values.

He doesn’t care if the painting is a modern or an ancient fashion style. He doesn’t want to probe such a boring concept. He just internally contemplates on self-existence – a true internal love on creation. Therefore, he is not confined to the tradition. He achieves mastery through a comprehensive study of ancient and contemporary schools, and develops his own style of painting. He digested the ancient skills, and creates his own style. His unique painting style has a potential of tradition, but does not stick to old way. He follows the tradition, but has his own style, not against the customary rules. He succeeds to the traditional style, and has innovation. Thus, the difficult problem on the painting is highly coordinated. He enjoys himself in the landscape world. He can paint at his own will, as if it is a piece of work created by nature.

Mr. Liao has his own incisive insight on landscape. In addition to following traditional painting technique, he can appreciate the wonderful state of Heaven and Earth through spiritual practice, philosophy and meditation. Mountains and water originally exist in the nature and between Heaven and Earth. Man and Nature melt into one integer. Two become one like the theory that Yin and Yang of cosmogony (Tai Chi) penetrate into each other.

He pays attention to dot, line and plane as his painting skill and structure. He emphasizes “write”, and is opposed to copying. He can master his painting brush to paint lightly, heavily, fast and slowly. He can master the ink to be dry, wet, thick or thin, and master the line to be long, short, thick, fine, weak or strong. He can holds the painting brush in many kinds of angles. He is proficient in painting. He can paint many things (either square or round object) vividly without difficulty. His painting force penetrates the paper, and the painting is full of rhythmic and beating sense. Thus, the intensive-style landscape is wonderful expressed. The fine strokes clearly reveal the picture. Thousands strokes and dots melt and form a big whole. If you closely watch it, it is very delicate. If you watch it from far, it is a big whole. Close watch is as if you are in a jungle on the mountain. For far watch, you can see the momentum of the multi-peaked mountains. He can command weak and strong painting lines well. He commands painting lines with finger tension. His painting lines have a brush sense showing depth, smooth roundness, wrinkles and dotted colors. The painting contents are abundant. You won’t feel tired to watch it again and again. The aftertaste lingers on in your mind.

His structural pattern of landscape endlessly changes –

an extremely attentive work is made under inattentiveness. He wins a good painting by surprise skill. His composing the painting is different from “big to small”. He sets the composition first, and then delineate the contour one layer after another with his old method of “small to big”. Each line produces another line so as to compose a good picture. The colors are either thick or thin. At the beginning there is no specific idea of composition. After completing the composition, an unexpected good painting appear. When he makes a painting, firstly he finishes a sketch with light ink so as to smooth the whole picture. Mr. Liao makes paintings with ink technique, such as ink splashing, ink breaking, ink rushing and ink accumulating. He also uses a dry painting brush to moisten the picture. The ink color is extremely nice-looking, and the painting is not dyed with any watercolor. (Other painters themselves often say that it is like drinking the originally- tasted black coffee to enjoy his works. The more they drink, the better the taste is.) Sometimes he uses watercolor together with ink to highlight the important position of the ink. Thus, thick ink and light color becomes his unique style. The space between Heaven and Earth is wide in the black ink mass. The more you watch it, the more you feel interesting.

Mr. Liao uses a variety of Taiwan wood and mountain forests as his painting material. The mountain contour and structure are his creation material. Although the Taiwan mountains are not so tall as those in China, but there is his living affection. Each grass and each tree has its own life. They change themselves in four seasons. He loves his birthplace. He uses traditional painting brush and ink to associate himself with Taiwan forest. He paints his life, and faces real mountain and real river. He does not paint the landscapes seen in the paintings of the ancients. He employs artist technique – cutting, exaggeration and composition. During the process of choice, he develops essence, and discard dregs, and stress a “as-a-poem” status.

His works always give people an impression of strong black and white contrast. This is an outcome that he composes the picture with white, and keeps black. He uses black and white in a proper ratio. The both reflect each other. It makes the painting special, colorful and interesting. The ink is divided into 5 kinds of tone. White is also divided into 5 kinds. On traditional base of using dot and line, he adds ink to dye a large area of the painting, and enriches the painting expression. Overlapped ink painting is clear and bright. He can paint at will. The context is clear at a glance. He employs “lines form ink blot” technique and mutual complement “white space reserved” technique to paint luxuriant forest, and the appearance of the painting is relieved. When he paints forest, rock cliff, running water, floating cloud, people and hoses, he employs a painting technique of soft, hard, rough, fine, dry and wet “ink lines” to draw every thing according to its nature. The state is beyond description. In brief, dots and lines form a landscape with different densities. It has a strongly adorned beauty. Dots and lines reserve some white background. It is important to balance the appearance of the painting.

Mr. Liao paints cloud, river and far mountains. He has his own feature. He paints clouds, and we feel like flying in the clouds and mist. Sometimes the clouds are dyed with colors, or become hooked. They gracefully flow, and change into many different forms. He paints a river. The river winds around deeply in the jungle. His painting brush wonderfully paints fast running waterfall and crooked-river outlet in a deep valley

Mr. Liao has his own viewpoint on his landscape creation.

I extract some of his self-descriptions about the creation as follows –

“ The viewpoint of self life: It makes me clearly realize the value of existence because my existence cannot be replaced by anything. This is the focal point of my creation. It is not a facial skill or a formalistic pursuit of painting. I’m the original of creation. I use works to record the course of life existence. I don’t want the complicated technique or structure to interfere into the expression of the nature in the heart of self-existence.

Use each painting to write life course. It will be my whole spiritual life. Only one painting cannot write down the spirit of whole life. Therefore, each painting is just one of continuous dots in my life span. 

All the contents in my paintings are the projections which show what I cannot realize in my real life. I use symbols to describe the non-existent space. I also use symbols to represent myself, my family members, friends, people and things, and melt them into this space. Use painting to visualize the space. Thus, I create

a self-satisfactory world.

There exist reality and idea in life. The conflict in heart is a helpless in our living. We eager for peace when life is not peaceful. Joy and sorrow are two sides of one thing, and are sure to co-exist. We must learn how to surpass self, and pursue perfection. Perfection consists of beauty and ugliness. Both cannot be separated. Therefore, every work must be accompanied by “beauty and ugliness” as well as “good and no good”. There is a self-art style only when you exist. Understanding the tradition is to confirm self.

A new thing must have a traditional standpoint. Newness and oldness exist in every age. It was new yesterday, but it becomes old today. Each moment the new and the old are alternative. You can really exist only when you melt into the whole nature. It refers to a degree of experience. Excessively running after the past creation style or the future new style will miss the key point of creation. The naturally existed understanding will awaken self. Painting skill is merely a necessary capability. The real thing is in the spiritual nature of self-existence. (Become acceptable in your life, but creation belongs to self.)”

Mr. Liao’s painting skill in the domain of landscape is completely mature. He has many unique achievements. He is also good at other kinds of painting. He, the painter, feels life span is short, and cannot be proficient in every thing. Therefore, he devotes himself to the creation of landscape!

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pEFLeGBdos

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