Articles and Reviews
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Splinters of Jade: A Postscript/ Professor Dr. Sthaneshwar Timalsina

玉屑集 · 跋 / Sthaneshwar Timalsina教授

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Manchas Taoístas​ / Rubén Pose

道之荫翳/ 鲁本·波塞

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Mengyun Han: In Between Islands / Jonathan Goodman

无定/ 乔纳森˙古德曼

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Whence things have their origin:​The meaning of abstract painting and In Between Islands / Chong Fu

但萬物由它產生——抽象繪畫的意義與《無定》/ 傅翀

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Elegies for Emptiness/ Jonathan Goodman

无之挽歌/ 乔纳森˙古德曼

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L’EXPOSITION PERSONNELLE DE MENGYUN HAN/ Helina Bastais

 



Whence Things Have Their Origin:


The meaning of abstract painting and In Between Islands


Chong Fu


2013


Whence things have their origin, there they must also pass away according to necessity; for they must pay penalty and be judged for their injustice, according to the ordinance of time.


This is the most ancient philosophical teaching, a motto of the ancient Greek philosopher Anaximander. Although Thales, Anaximander’s teacher, is widely acknowledged as the father of philosophy, he leaves nothing but a few sayings recorded in other’s texts and, therefore, Thales is more fictional and Anaximander historical. When the German philosopher Martin Heidegger reshaped the history of philosophy, he positioned Anaximander as the starting point of Ontology. And what the motto depicts is the origin and essence of the world: apeiron (ἄπειρον) which literally means “unlimited, infinite, or indefinite”. Mengyun Han names her first solo exhibition as well as her first monograph Wu-ding, which means “apeiron” in Chinese and it is not only an indication of the general theme of her works but her forthcoming, in Aristotelian terminology, efficient cause and final cause. Alluding to the English title of her monograph In Between Islands, all the paintings in this exhibition create a new world of respective abstraction and resonance with each other. This relationship reveals exactly the chasm between our being and the world we are in, which are non-objective and by no means conceptual. Han’s work is obviously abstract yet abstraction is not a consideration of style, but, as what I am going to prove, of necessity.


Traditionally speaking, in art criticism, the scope of the discussion of abstract art, especially of Abstract Expressionism, has always been limited to the “Expression Theory” which is developed successively by Croce, Dewey, Collinwood and so on. The core of its concept is that every work of art is an expression of the artist’s feelings and moods. Beauty results from the successful capture of the flowing as well as the static emotion because a work of art must possess concrete and fixed forms, through which all emotions can be represented accurately. Therefore, the meaning of art can be sought in the represented emotion. Beholders, when appreciating art, should retrieve the psychological or emotional states undergone by the artist during her creative process. The invaluable insights of Expression Theory are embodied in ideas of “art as art” and “art as a thing”. These ideas reveal the essential correlation between art and emotion as well as denying the connection between techniques and art respectively. This theory allows art critics to elaborate on abstract paintings, although the content of which is ineffable. Expression Theory seems potent when it comes to interpret abstract art, however, its efficacy soon comes to a halt as it fails to truly understand abstract art beyond its ineffability.


Meanwhile, another means of interpreting Abstract Expressionism concentrates more on the history of art, which conceives abstract art as a necessary demand during a certain stage of Capitalism, as a weapon by the American propaganda in the ideological war, or as a depoliticized new style in the age of mass media and emergence of new art forms. This interpretation, compared to Expression Theory, is equally valid and limited. It is valid in the sense that its historical and theoretical underpinnings have successfully created a style and a school of thought—Abstract Expressionism, namely the New York School. It is undoubtedly credible and legitimate as we only limit abstract paintings to specific things and ideas as such. Nevertheless, abstract art defies specification because it is impossible to extract or realize anything specific in abstraction.


If abstract art is indeed what Expression Theory describes as an expression of an artist’s emotions, abstraction is not really necessary if the objective is to express emotion. It is difficult, if not impossible, for abstract art to represent and deliver emotions better than representational art, in which artists can delineate vivid and accurate facial expressions, gazes, or even characters and narratives. Therefore, the Expression Theory can be used to interpret abstract art but it cannot explain why it has to be abstract. As for the historical approach, it only explains the cause of Abstract Expressionism arbitrarily but what matters is an aesthetic interpretation. That is to say, neither the Expression Theory nor the approach of history can explain why the birth of abstract art is of necessity.


What is most credible and in need is the Continental Philosophy and it is exactly what French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard focuses on as he discusses Barnett Newman’s abstract paintings: returning to the “sublimity” discussed by Kant in his Critique of Judgment and from Merleau-Ponty to the “occurrence” of Heidegger. Certainly, Ancient Greek Philosophers have long before related “abstract” to concepts of “eternal”, “substantial” and “transcendental” and so on.


A true appreciation of abstract art as art rather than as a style requires us to understand rightly the theme of it: the universality going beyond the sensibility and essence a prior to concept. The obsession with the artist’s personal feelings and the Cold War Ideology mirrored a random subjectivity and historicism, which is exactly what Heidegger sneered at: “to suppose that our description, as a subjective action, had first depicted everything thus and then projected into the painting would be the worst kind of self-delusion. If there is anything questionable, it is only that in the proximity of the work we have experienced too little, and what we have experienced has been described too crudely and hastily.”(Heidegger 2002: 12)


Far from Expression Theory’s concern for “the beautiful”, Lyotard thinks what abstract paintings depict is “the sublime”. And it is Kant who establishes the connection between “the sublime” and universality. In Kant’s Critique of Judgment, the sublime is ontologically higher than the beautiful: “therefore, just as the aesthetic judgment in its judgment of the beautiful refers the imagination in its free play to the understanding, to bring out its agreement with the concepts of the latter in general: so in its judging of a thing as sublime it refers that faculty to reason to bring out its subjective accord with ideas of reason.” (Kant 2007: 86) As Kant puts it, beauty is related to understanding nature, but sublimity is a judgment that men can only obtain when facing the idea of the infinite, formless and beyond sensibility, which, therefore, is of subjective universality and then connecting to moral feelings: “For the sublime, in the strict sense of the word, cannot be contained in any sensuous form, but rather concerns ideas of reason, which, although no adequate presentation of them is possible, may be aroused and called to mind by that very inadequacy itself which does admit of sensuous presentation.”(Kant 2007: 76) At last, Kant reasons that: “This makes it evident that true sublimity must be sought only in the mind of the judging subject, and not in the object of nature.” 


Based on Kant’s theory of sublimity, Lyotard figures out a new way of understanding art, especially abstract paintings and he claims that: “art does not imitate nature, it creates a world apart, eine Zwischenwelt, as Paul Klee will say, eine Nebenwelt, one might say, in which the monstrous and the formless have their rights because they can be sublime.”(Lyotard 2011: 590) Moreover, Lyotard conceives Kant’s theory as “incomplete” because Kant fails to understand that sublimity transcends not only sensibility and imagination, but, more importantly and ontologically, concept and therefore, the faculty of reason.


Without doubt, Lyotard’s criticism of Kant is rooted in the Phenomenology developed by Heidegger. But we should not lose sight of a predecessor, Schopenhauer, who nearly foreshows all kinds of criticism of Kant.


Kant asserts in Critique of Pure Reason: “Intuition and concepts constitute, therefore, the elements of all our knowledge, so that neither concepts without an intuition in some way corresponding to them, nor intuition without concepts, can yield knowledge.”(Kant 1929: 92) On the contrary, Schopenhauer deems that what men can feel in art is a non-conceptual content by intuition. In 1814, Schopenhauer writes down a note: “long ago, people have not succeeded in the experiments of philosophy because they are always going on the way of science but not art.” Unlike other German philosophers who emphasize concept, Schopenhauer thinks that concepts are an insubstantial interpretation of truth, to which art comes much closer. And non-conceptual content is by no means non-content. In opposition, what is experienced in art is the essence of the world, the Idea.


In The World as Will and Representation, Schopenhauer writes: 


“Its only source is knowledge of the Ideas; its sole aim is communication of this knowledge. Whilst science, following the restless and unstable stream of the fourfold forms of reasons or grounds and consequents, is with every end it attains again and again directed farther, and can never find an ultimate goal or complete satisfaction, any more than by running we can reach the point where the clouds touch the horizon; art, on the contrary, is everywhere at its goal. For it plucks the object of its contemplation from the stream of the world's course, and holds it isolated before it. This particular thing, which in that stream was an infinitesimal part, becomes for art a representative of the whole, an equivalent of the infinitely many in space and time. It therefore pauses at this particular thing; it stops the wheel of time; for it the relations vanish; its object is only the essential, the Idea.”(Schopenhauer 1969: 184-185) 


In regard of the artist’s creation, Schopenhauer believes: “that the Idea comes to us more easily from the work of art than directly from nature and from reality, arises solely from the fact that the artist, who knew only the Idea and not reality, clearly repeated in his work only the Idea, separated it out from reality, and omitted all disturbing contingencies.”(Schopenhauer 1969: 195) 


Schopenhauer draws a distinction between the Idea intuited through art and the knowledge achieved through conceptual understanding and holds that the Idea is more essential. Notably, he points out the reason why it is possible for men to intuit art is that men can transcend the subject when watching in tranquility, “out of its connexion with any other, and rises into this.”(Schopenhauer 1969: 178) Living in the end of German Classical Philosophy, Schopenhauer could not avoid a Platonic dualism, but his theory in fact has already indicated the direction for Heidegger to transcend the traditional ontology.


Ultimately, Heidegger puts forward a comprehensive understanding of abstract art.If it is agreed that Kant’s philosophy is to establish the transcendental basis for art and the subjective universality of human emotions, and that Schopenhauer’s is to demonstrate that the essence of art is connected to the Idea and therefore goes beyond reality and conceptual understanding, and, consequently, it will be agreed that Heidegger’s philosophy echoes the Kantian argument to universalize the subjective emotion by “the existential constitution of the There”, which sets up the existential meaning of attunement/mood. He makes explicit how “the being of beings (das Sein des Seienden) comes into the steadiness of its shining (scheinen)” through art, which more or less inherits the viewpoint from Schopenhauer that art reveals the Idea. 


In Being and Time, Heidegger says: “Mood assails. It comes neither from ‘without’ nor from ‘within’, but rises from being-in-the-world itself as a mode of that being.”(Heidegger 1996: 129) Two years after, Heidegger writes in The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: “Attunements are not side-effect, but are something which in advance determines our being with one another. It seems as though an attunement is in each case already there, so to speak, like an atmosphere in which we first immerse ourselves in each case and which then attunes us through and through. It does not merely seem so, it is so; and, faced with this fact, we must dismiss the psychology of feelings, experiences, and consciousness.”(Heidegger 1995: 67) Let us recall the Expression Theory and its claim of the so-called “the artist’s feelings and moods”. It is clear that they are all on Heidegger’s list of “dismissing”. Heidegger indicated that mood is not personal or psychological but universal and presupposed which rules Dasein and how Dasein is perceived.


 On the other hand, Heidegger asserts that there is “a happening of truth” in art. In The Origin of the Work of Art, he writes: “In the work, when there is a disclosure of the being as what and how it is, there is a happening of truth at work.” Heidegger, in accordance with Schopenhauer, criticizes the traditional ontology for trying to grasp art by conceptual understanding or to exclude art from truth, and he strongly objects to the claim that “truth… belongs to logic. But beauty is the preserve of aesthetics.” Besides, Heidegger disproves that “art is the representation of reality” by saying “the work, then, is not concerned with the reproduction of a particular being that has at some time been actually present. Rather, it is concerned to reproduce the general essence of things.” What Heidegger means by “truth” or “essence” cannot be understood by concepts or reason at all and therefore is out of the logical order of things but in the existential relationship of things and human. (Heidegger 2002: 16) 


In this sense, when we turn back to think about art, it is definite to conclude that: what art depicts is mood, but it is not the artist’s personal mood. It is the existentially universal and fundamental attunement that rules everything including our beings and how our beings are perceived. Then truth will happen in the work of art and truth is neither conceptual nor logical but in relation with human’s existence. After all, if we focused on paintings solely, we will soon see that abstract paintings, with its essence of anti-conceptual understanding, among other kinds of paintings, is the one that is closest to the happening of truth. And this also means that any part of a representational painting where truth happens must be the abstract part of it---and it is exactly the spiritual core of traditional Chinese landscape paintings.


 Heidegger has never mentioned abstract paintings but he said something that best explains them: “if we try to make it comprehensible by analyzing it into numbers of oscillations it is gone. It shows itself only when it remains undisclosed and unexplained.”(Heidegger 2002:  25) Obviously, only in abstract paintings, color is totally against any kind of recognition, analysis and interpretation.


Since the objective of a work of art is to let truth happen, here comes another definite conclusion that the importance of artists will be reduced. So says Heidegger: “precisely in great art the artist remains something inconsequential in comparison with the work- almost like a passageway which, in the creative process, destroys itself for the sake of the coming forth of the work.” (Heidegger 2002: 19) However, there is one premise that cannot be ignored and it is the “great art”. That is to say, firstly, if any artist appears great, we could conclude that her work of art must be with less greatness; secondly, and the most importantly, an artist becomes inconsequential only after the creation of the work and, before and during the creation, the artist is consequentially important.


Finally, after the intellectual preparation for reading Han’s work, we could begin to do so. First of all, I want to clarify one thing: given that philosophy is universal, there is no “Western philosophy” or “Chinese philosophy” but philosophy in the West or in China. Since language is used, Western philosophers’ concepts and logic are more apt to interpret Han’s work. But now as we shift to the ideas that inspired Han’s work, Chinese philosophy is able to explain her intuition and contemplation. 


As the titles of six groups of work—Saṃsāra, Wandering Mind, Letting, In Succession, Plainness, and Momentum—have shown, Han’s inspiration originated from traditional Chinese philosophy and literary criticism. Saṃsāra is the Romanization Transliteration of Sanskrit “संसार” which literally means the endless cycle of birth, suffering, death and rebirth. Wandering Mind and Letting are both the key ideas and quotations from the Daoist philosophical classic Chuang Tzu; In Succession, Plainness, and Momentum are quotations from Wen-hsin tiao-lung which is the most systematic book of literary theory and criticism in ancient China with a complicated and comprehensive interflow of Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism. In other words, those titles reflect how Han’s abstract paintings respond to traditional Chinese philosophy. 


It is clear that Han’s paintings relate to Daoism more because of the ontological thinking and inspiration as well as the aesthetic pursuit and taste. The most significant characteristic of traditional Chinese painting is “leaving white”, which should be replaced in the theory of Daoist doctrine of “the usefulness of uselessness” to be thoroughly understood. Tao Te King says: 


“Thirty spokes share one hub. Adapt the nothing therein to the purpose in hand, and you will have the use of the cart. Knead clay in order to make a vessel. Adapt the nothing therein to the purpose in hand, and you will have the use of the vessel. Cut out doors and windows in order to make a room. Adapt the nothing therein to the purpose in hand, and you will have the use of the room. Thus what we gain is Something, yet it is by virtue of Nothing that this can be put to use.” 


Therefore, any artist who contemplates the Way and wants to depict this kind of transcendental being must abandon figurative and representational paintings to avoid any potentially sensible, recognizable and understandable element, and moves forward to paint abstractly and leaves white to degenerate lines and colors, which are traditionally substantial in abstract painting. The white being left on paper is an abstraction of color, shape and material and it becomes an ontological equivalence with emptiness. Heidegger’s philosophy is the best guidebook for beholders to appreciate abstract paintings, and accordingly, Daoist philosophy is the best introduction for artists to paint abstractly. In other words, tagging Han’s paintings as a convergence between East and West is but an inadequate observation. Her work should be treated as a visualized study of the Way, or the origin and the essence of the world. When her paintings, her studies, have to be translated from an image to a language, the only correspondence is philosophical texts rather than literary ones. And the high degree of their correspondence proves the validity of her paintings the other way around.


Representational and conceptual understandings are both to be transcended in abstract paintings. And time is another theme that inspired Han’s painting series “Saṃsāra”. It is originally an Indian concept questioning beyond the linear flow of time. Accordingly, in traditional Chinese thoughts, there is a story deeply questioning the relationship between meaning and time. In Chuang Tzu: Responses for Emperors and Kings: 


The emperor of the Southern Sea was Lickety, the emperor of the Northern Sea was Split, and the emperor of the Center was Wonton (literally means chaos). Lickety and Split often met each other in the land of Wonton, and Wonton treated them very well. Wanting to repay Wonton’s kindness, Lickety and Split said, “All people have seven holes for seeing, hearing, eating, and breathing. Wonton alone lacks them. Let’s try boring some holes for him.” So every day they bored one hole, and on the seventh day Wonton died.


Wonton, the Chaos, is the center of everything, and died of hole boring. Given that the hole is the symbol of sense organs, the Chaos died actually of sensing. In other words, the Chaos has to remain chaos. It is almost the metaphor of the destiny of abstract art for abstract art has to remain abstract and any attempt to understand it in terms of concepts or to make it understandable is a kind of murder. And the murderer is time as the story has shown. The names of the emperor of the Southern Sea and the emperor of the Northern Sea are all the words used to describe time. The last teaching from this story is that abstract art needs to be independent of time to keep itself alive.


If you insist on questioning the meaning of abstract paintings, the answer, if any, lives deeply within them. And if you insist on asking me to interpret, please allow me to quote Heidegger again. It is his interpretation of Tao Te King.


“The thought of mortal must let himself merge into the darkness of the deep origin so as to see the stars in the daytime.”


In this very end, I hope you could understand and appreciate the story below, quoting from Chuang Tzu:


“Master Chuang and Master Hui were strolling across the bridge over the Hao River. “The minnows have come out and are swimming so leisurely,” said Master Chuang. “This is the joy of fishes.”


“You’re not a fish,” said Master Hui. “How do you know what the joy of fishes is?”


“You’re not me,” said Master Chuang, “so how do you know that I don’t know what the joy of fishes is?”


“I’m not you,” said Master Hui, “so I certainly do not know what you do. But you’re certainly not a fish, so it is irrefutable that you do not know what the joy of fishes is.”


“Let’s go back to where we started,” said Master Chuang. “When you said, ‘How do you know what the joy of fishes is?’ you asked me because you already knew that I knew. I know it by strolling over the Hao.” (Zhuang 1998: 165)


Bibliography


[1]Heidegger, Martin. The Origin of the Work of Art[A]. Off the Beaten Track[M]. Young, Julian and Haynes, Kenneth Ed. and Trans. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002


[2]Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Judgment[M]. Meredith, James Creed Trans. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.


[3]Lyotard, Jean-Francois. The Sublime and the Avant-Garde[A]. SEE:The Continental Aesthetics Reader[M]. Cazeaux, Clive Ed. London: Routledge, 2011.


[4]Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason[M]. Smith, Norman Kemp Trans. London: Macmillan and Co., 1929.


[5]Schopenhauer, Arthur. The World as Will and Representation[M]. Payne, E. F. J. Trans. New York: Dover Publication, Inc., 1969.


[6]Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time[M]. Stambaugh, Joan Trans. New York: State University of New York Press, 1996.


[7]Heidegger, Martin. The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude[M]. McNeill, William and Walker, Nicholas Trans. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1995.


[8]Zhuang Zhou. Wandering on the Way: Early Taoist Tales and Parables of Chuang Tzu[M]. Mair, Victor. Trans. Honolulu: University of Hawai’I Press, 1998.


 


但萬物由它產生——抽象繪畫的意義與《無定》


傅翀 


2013


但萬物由它產生,


毀滅後又複歸於它,


這都是按照必然性;


因為它們按照固定的時間為其不正義受到懲罰并相互補償。


  這是西方哲學史上最古老的箴言,寫下它的人就是古希臘哲學家阿那克西曼德。雖然他的老師泰勒斯被認為是哲學之父,但現存的泰勒斯的學說都是後人轉述。只有阿那克西曼德,是最早的有著作傳世的哲學家。德國哲學家海德格爾在重述哲學史時,就將阿那克西曼德視為了形而上學的開端。而這句古老箴言所描述的,就正是世界的本原:「無定」(ἄπειρον)。韓夢雲的第一本畫冊選擇「無定」作為題目,不僅提醒了觀者她的畫作所描繪的主題,也暗示了這是她接下來藝術創作的動力與起點。


韓夢雲的繪畫顯然是抽象的,但這不是所謂風格的問題,而是,正如我接下來所要論證的,是不得不如此的問題。


    在傳統的藝術評論中,對抽象藝術、特別是抽象表現主義繪畫的討論,總是局限在「表現理論」(Expression Theory)之中。該理論是由克羅齊(Croce)、杜威(Dewey)、科林伍德(Collingwood)等哲學家所提出,其核心概念即藝術作品都是對藝術家情緒與感情的表現。而美感就來自于對變動不居的情緒的成功刻畫,或者說固定——因為藝術作品一定都具有具體且固定的形式,一切情緒都只能由這樣精確地表現。因此藝術的意義就需要在它所表現的情緒中去尋找。而觀眾對藝術的欣賞就必須通過對藝術家創作作品時的心理狀態或情緒進行回溯來實現。表現理論的洞見則分別在「藝術作品作為藝術」的層面上揭示了藝術與情緒之間的本質聯繫,同時在「藝術作品作為物」的層面上證明了技藝與藝術之間卻並無必然相關。這兩個層面都讓藝術評論家在面對「不可道」的抽象繪畫時變得有話可說,有理可據。但表現理論在面對抽象藝術時,雖然具有很高的闡釋效力,但卻因為本身理論上的淺嘗輒止而不能真正認識抽象藝術的價值。


    與此同時,另一種對抽象表現主義繪畫的論述,則更多地從藝術史的角度著眼,比如將之視為資本主義發展到某一階段后對藝術的必然訴求,或者視為美國為了爭奪意識形態話語權而鼓動的藝術運動,或者「去政治化地」將之描述為大眾傳播、新藝術門類興起背景下的新風格。應該說,這類論述,與上面所舉的表現理論一道,都即正確又錯誤。正確,是因為它們從理論與歷史兩個方面成功地塑造出了一種風格、一種流派,即抽象表現主義,或紐約畫派,而當我們將抽象繪畫僅僅局限在這樣具體的單位上時,正確是毫無疑問的。而錯誤,就在於抽象繪畫本身是不可也無法被真正具體化的——這是顯而易見的,因為抽象的邏輯必定無法推演為具體。 


    如果抽象繪畫真的如表現理論所解釋的那樣,是對藝術家情緒的表現,僅僅就是對情緒的表現,那麼繪畫是沒有理由一定要抽象的。相反,在具象繪畫中,藝術家反而能通過更明確的表情、目光,甚至是畫中的人物與劇情來更為有效地向觀者傳遞情緒。而根據表現理論的說法,越有效,就越有美感。換句話說,表現理論可以被用來解釋抽象繪畫,但它無法解釋為何必須是抽象繪畫。而藝術史的論述,則多為后見之明,并無法真正在藝術的層面上解釋抽象繪畫的意義。


    真正能憑藉的思想資源,還是歐陸哲學的傳統——正如法國哲學家让-弗朗索瓦·利奥塔(Jean-François Lyotard)在討論Barnett Newman的抽象繪畫時所做的那樣——回到康德的《論優美感與崇高感》與《判斷力批判》中討論的「崇高」,以及經由梅洛-龐蒂回到海德格爾所說的「湧現」。當然,就像開頭所引的那樣,古希臘哲學早已將抽象與永恆、本質、先驗等聯繫在了一起。


   只有將抽象藝術描繪的主題理解為超越感性的普遍性、先於概念的本質,才能真正將抽象藝術理解為藝術,而不是風格。如果只是兜兜轉轉于所謂藝術家的情緒或情感,或者冷戰思維,那麼這種藝術評論中隨意的主觀性與歷史主義,正是海德格爾所嘲諷的「倘若我們以為我們的描繪是一種主觀活動,已經如此這般勾勒好了一切,然後再把它置於畫上,那就是最糟糕的自欺了。如果說這裡有什麽值得起疑的地方的話,那就只有一點,即,我們站在作品近處經驗得太過膚淺了,對自己的經驗的言說太過粗陋和簡單了。」(海德格爾 2004: 20-21)


    與表現理論還在關心「美」不同,利奧塔認為抽象繪畫表現的其實是「崇高」(sublime)。而建立起「崇高」與普遍性關聯的正是康德。在康德的《判斷力批判》中,「崇高」被賦予了高於「美」的地位:「正如審美的判斷力在評判美時將想像力與在其自由遊戲中于知性聯繫起來,以便和一般知性感念協調一致;同樣,審美判斷力也在把一物評判為崇高時將同一種能力與理性聯繫起來,以便主觀上和理性的理念和諧一致」。(康德 2002: 95)在康德看來,美是與知性、與自然有關的,而崇高是人面對超越感性、無限且無形式的理念時,才會有的判斷,因而具有主觀普遍性(subjective universality),并進而通達道德情感。「因為真正的崇高不能包含在任何感性的形式中,而只針對理性的理念:這些理念雖不能有與之相適合的任何表現,卻正是通過這種可以再感性上表現出來的不適合性而被激發起來、并召喚到內心中來的。(康德 2002: 83)」。康德最後也認為,崇高並不能在自然中尋找:“真正的崇高必須只在判斷者的內心中,而不是在自然客體中去尋求”。 


    利奧塔從康德有關「崇高」的理論中看到理解藝術,理解抽象繪畫的思路:「藝術不是模仿自然,它另外創造了一個世界,就像Paul Klee會說的那樣, eine Zwischewelt,或者其他哪個人會說的,eine Nebenwelt, 在這個世界里,巨大的與無形的都擁有它們的權力,因為它們可以崇高。」(Lyotard 2011: 590)與此同時,根據康德的分析,「崇高」必然意味著超出感性與想像力,而在利奧塔看來,「崇高」的超越是更加具有形而上學意義的,因為它超越的是概念(concept),超越的是理性,而這意味著康德將「崇高」與理性的理念相聯繫也是不徹底的。


    毫無疑問,利奧塔批判康德美學的思想基礎是以海德格爾與梅洛-龐蒂為代表的現象學,但是我們不能忽略了更早的一位康德美學的批判者——叔本華,就像下文將顯示的那樣,後人對康德的批判都能在叔本華的學說中找到先聲。 


與康德在《純粹理性批判》中聲稱的「直觀和概念構成我們一切知識的要素,以至於概念沒有以某種方式與之相應的直觀、或直觀沒有概念,都不能產生知識」(康德 2010: 242)截然相反,叔本華認為人們在藝術中感受到的恰恰是由直觀而來的「非概念的內容」,而非經由邏輯而來的概念性的知識。他曾在1814年寫了一則筆記:「長久以來,人們一直在拿哲學做實驗,但卻徒勞無益,因為人們總是在科學的,而不是在藝術的道路上去尋找哲學。」與其他德國古典哲學家對概念的強調不同,叔本華認為「概念是真理的非實在表達,而藝術卻距離真理更近。」而「非概念的內容」非但不是無內容,相反,人們在藝術中感受到了是世間萬物的本質,是理念。


   在《作為意志與表象的世界》中,叔本華寫道:「藝術的唯一源泉就是對理念的認識,它唯一的目標就是傳達這一認識。——當科學追隨著四類形態的根據和後果無休止,變動不盡的洪流而前進的時候,在每次達到目的之後,總得又往前奔而永無一個最後的目標,也不可能獲得完全的滿足,好比人們疾走以期達到雲天和地平線相接的那一點似的。與此相反的是藝術,藝術在任何地方都到了目的地。這是因為藝術已把它觀審的對象從世界歷程的洪流中拔了出來了,這對象孤立在它面前了。而這一個別的東西,在那洪流中本只是微不足道的一涓滴,在藝術上卻是總體的一個代表,是空間時間中無窮『多』的一個對等物。因此藝術就在這兒停下來了,守著這個個別的東西,藝術使時間的齒輪停頓了。就藝術來說,那些關係也消失了。只有本質的東西,理念,是藝術的對象。」(叔本華 1982: 258-259)在討論藝術家創作時,他的觀點是:「我們所以能夠從藝術品比直接從自然和現實更容易看到理念,那是由於藝術家只認識理念而不再認識現實,他在自己的作品中也僅僅只複製了理念,把理念從現實中剝出來,排除了一切起干擾作用的偶然性。」(叔本華 1982: 272)


    叔本華認為人們通過藝術感受到的理念,是完全不同於人們用理性在概念思維中所獲得的知識,是在本體論意義上更本質的領悟。值得注意的是,叔本華還指出人們之所以能感受藝術,是因為人們可以在靜觀中超越作為個體的主題,也「超然于該對象和任何其他對象的關係之外。」(叔本華 1982: 249)雖然叔本華所處的時代決定了他無法走出柏拉圖式的二元論,但他的理論實際上已經為後世的海德格爾指示了超越傳統形而上學的方向。


  而最終為理解抽象藝術提供集大成之思想的,非海德格爾莫屬——雖然他並沒有提到過抽象藝術,但他對藝術的見解無一不可用於解釋抽象藝術。


如果說康德的哲學是通過先驗論證從而為藝術及人類的情感的主觀普遍性找到根據,而叔本華的哲學則論證了藝術超越現實與概念思維從而通達理念的本質,那麼海德格爾的哲學首先呼應了康德對主觀情感的普遍化嘗試,通過「此的生存論建構」奠定了情緒的存在論意義,繼而呼應了叔本華對藝術揭示理念與本質的觀點,闡明了「存在者之存在」是通過藝術從而「進入其閃耀的恒定中了」。


    海德格爾在《存在與時間》中寫道:「情緒襲來。它既不是從『外』也不是從『內』到來的,而是作為在世的方式從這個在世本身中升起來的。」(海德格爾 2012: 464)之後,在《形而上學的基本概念》中,他又寫道:「情緒不是伴隨現象,而是預先決定彼此共在的東西。似乎是一種情緒已經在那裡,就像一種環境,我們向來已經沉浸在其中,被它徹底規定了。不僅似乎是這樣,它就是這樣;鑒於這些事實,感情、體驗和意識心理學就可以免了。」(海德格爾 2012: 460)想想之前提到過的表現理論,以及其所聲稱的「藝術家的情感與情緒」,顯然在海德格爾所謂的「可以免了」的清單中。海德格爾指出了情緒絕非僅僅是個人的、心理的,情緒更是普遍的、預先的,它規定了此在,也規定了此在展示的方式。


  另一方面,海德格爾直接明言在藝術作品中有「真理的發生」。在《藝術作品的本源》中,他寫道:「在作品中,要是存在者是什麽和存在者是如何被開啟出來,也就有了作品中真理的發生」,同時,他也與叔本華一樣,批判了傳統形而上學中企圖用概念思維囊括藝術,或者將藝術排除在真理之外的做法,認為「真理歸於邏輯,而美留給美學」是完全錯誤的,而認為「藝術是對現實的再現」,也遭到了海德格爾的反駁,他說:「作品絕不是對那些時時現存乎手邊的個別存在者的再現,恰恰相反,它是對物的普遍本質的再現。」而海德格爾所謂的真理或本質,絕非概念思維或理性所能把握,它不在事物的邏輯之中,而是在事物與人的生存的關聯中。(海德格爾 2004: 21)


  在這個意義上,當我們回過頭來重新思考藝術,不難也必定得出這樣的結論:藝術所表現的對象是情緒,但不是藝術家個人的情緒,而是作為規定萬物及我們存在以及存在展示方式的存在論意義上的普遍情緒,而一旦某件藝術作品完成了這一目標,那麼在這幅作品之中,真理也就發生了,而且這是與人的生存相關的真理,絕不是在概念思維中,或者說理性中的邏輯意義上的真理,這就意味著,一旦我們討論的藝術具體為繪畫時,拒絕任何概念思維的抽象繪畫毫無疑問就是最接近真理發生的方式。這也意味著,具象繪畫中抵達真理的部份,也一定是其中抽象的部份——而這也是中國山水畫的精神內核。


  正如我們之前說的,海德格爾並未直接討論抽象繪畫,但是他仍然有一句話不偏不倚,就是對抽象繪畫最好的闡釋:「要是我們自作聰明地加以測定,把色彩分解為數據,那色彩早就杳無蹤跡了。只有當它尚未被揭示,未被解釋之際,它才顯示自身。」(海德格爾 2004: 33)顯而易見,色彩只有在抽象繪畫中才是完全不可被揭示,也反任何解釋的。


另一個必定會得出的結論,就是,既然藝術作品的目標是讓真理發生,那麼這種對普遍化的追求,顯然會降低作為個體與主體的藝術家的重要性。海德格爾也確實這麼認為:「正是在偉大的藝術中,藝術家與作品相比才是某種無關緊要的東西,他就像一條爲了作品的產生而在創作中自我消亡的通道。」(海德格爾 2004: 26)但這里有一個不容忽視的前提,那就是「偉大的作品」,這意味著,第一,如果藝術家顯得重要了,那對應的結論就是她的作品不偉大,第二,也是最重要的,那就是藝術家只有在她的作品偉大之後,才變得無關緊要,但在創作前和創作中,藝術家顯然是最重要的。


 那麼,在為藝術家本人鋪墊了理解她作品所需的思想之後,我們終於可以開始理解她的作品了。但是,在開始之前,一個必須的澄清是,雖然上文所引的思想資源都是所謂的「西方」哲學,但我認為這種分類本身是毫無意義的,嚴格地說,「西方哲學」的意味只是「哲學在西方」,就像東方哲學意味著「哲學在東方」。哲學是普遍的,只要它揭示真理。只要事關用語言進行闡釋,那麼就必然事關概念思維,而這就不得不訴諸西方哲學,但事關直覺與領悟,也就是說,當要討論的是啓發韓夢雲創作的思想,那麼顯然更多的還是中國哲學。


    正如組成「無定」的六組作品各自的題目——「洗心」、「遊心」、「在宥」、「代序」、「斷竹」與「即體」——所顯示的那樣,韓夢雲的創作靈感正來源於中國傳統哲學與文論。 「洗心」语出《周易·繫辭上》,同時,「洗心」的英文名则是佛教術語「संसार」(意為「輪回」)的梵文拉丁文轉寫「Saṃsāra」;「遊心」、「在宥」则分别出自《莊子》的《人間世》篇与《在宥》篇;「代序」、「斷竹」與「即體」典出《文心雕龍》之《物色》篇、《通變》篇与《定勢》篇。這是對儒釋道三家哲學的召喚,或者說,這是韓夢雲的畫與中國傳統哲學之間在本體論與認識論上的雙重呼應。  


   「洗心」雖出於儒家經典,但其象徵與意指也多見於釋、道兩家。如《大智度論》卷二七《釋初品中大慈大悲》:「衣如聖人心,垢如諸煩惱,雖以智慧水浣,煩惱氣猶在。」《莊子山木》也有「願君刳形去皮,洒心去慾」之語。在經學傳統中,如《周易正義·繫辭上·註》,「洗心」被解釋為「齋」,這更是與道家思想相契合:如《莊子·知北遊》:「汝齋戒,疏瀹而心,澡雪而精神」。無獨有偶,在「遊心」所本的《莊子·人間世》中,莊子就借孔子之口討論了「心齋」的含義:「若一志,無聽之以耳而聽之以心,無聽之以心而聽之以氣。耳止於聽,心止於符。氣也者,虛而待物者也。唯道集虛。虛者,心齋也。」可見「洗心」的目的就在於讓心呈現為虛的狀態,而具體的步驟則為以概念思維取代感官所得,然後再在超越概念思維的、更加本質的生存狀態中去體會萬物。顯而易見,這段文字與上文討論抽象藝術時所引西哲諸賢的論述如出一轍。在儒、道二家的思想中,摒棄形象、擬象的思維一以貫之,但在超越概念思維——即《人間世》所謂「心止於符」——這一點上,道家遠比儒家更為深刻。老子在《道德經》開宗明義的「道可道,非常道。名可名,非常名」,即是此義。


不難看出韓夢雲的畫在根基處有著對老莊之學更深的認同。具體而言,則是道家思想對其思考留白與繪畫中實踐的影響。中國傳統繪畫中的「留白」毫無疑問應回到道家所建立的「無用之用」的理論之上,而直接討論「無用之用」的段落也正好出現在上文所引的《人間世》中,至於「虛而待物」一語,則可謂是其理論主旨。《道德經》中也說:「三十輻共一轂,當其無有車之用;埏埴以為器,當其無有器之;鑿戶牖以為室,當其無有室之用。故有之以為利,無之以為用。」由此可知,對於一位志在表現超越之物——也就是「道」——的畫家來說,「洗心」就必然意味著,首先,放棄具象的繪畫——放棄這種可以用感官直接把握并訴諸概念思維以識別和理解的繪畫,轉而採用抽象繪畫,其次,在抽象繪畫中運用留白,使傳統抽象繪畫中最本質的線條、色塊退回到「有」的層面,而將真正本質而超越的「無」複歸給「白」。從這個意義上來說,海德格爾哲學是欣賞抽象繪畫的觀眾最好的憑藉,而道家哲學就是從事抽象繪畫的畫家最好的準則。那麼,換句話說,韓夢雲的繪畫不應簡單視為中西交融下的產物,而應待之以更複雜的理解,即她的繪畫是對真理的探尋,而她這種繪畫上的探尋在訴諸語言時,比如說現在,就只能用上文所引的諸流派的哲學來闡述——而這無關西方東方,同時,這些思想與她繪畫的高度對應,則反過來說明了她的作品之所以能成立。 


超越形體只是抽象繪畫之一端,超越概念思維又是另一端,而超越時間,也同樣是抽象繪畫的題中應有之義。而這就回到了「Saṃsāra」——「輪回」上。首先這當然是一個隨佛教傳入中國的觀念,但這並不意味著中國傳統中沒有與之對應的思想。《莊子·應帝王》中記載這樣一則寓言:


「南海之帝爲儵,北海之帝爲忽,中央之帝爲混沌。儵與忽時相與遇于混沌之地,混沌待之甚善。儵與忽謀報混沌之德,曰:『人皆有七竅以視聽食息,此獨無有,嘗試鑿之。』日鑿壹竅,七日而混沌死。」


    可以說,這則寓言暗示的簡直就是抽象藝術的命運。首先,混沌,也就是抽象,是一切的中心與根本,但它死於被開七竅,而七竅的意義正好在於感官感受,因此可以說一旦要求混沌擁有感官并感受,混沌必將不再是混沌,而走向消亡,換句話說,混沌不得不保持混沌,抽象藝術也不得不保持抽象。同時,這則寓言最重要的意義,在於揭示了殺死混沌的兇手,正是時間。南海之帝與北海之帝的名字「儵」與「忽」都是形容時間的詞,這表明了他們二人代表的就是時間,這就意味著,混沌要保持存在,抽象藝術要不走向消亡,就必定要獨立在時間之外,一旦進入時間,不論是主動的,還是被理解的,都會導致「七日而死」。 


如果您還是要問抽象繪畫對人有什麽意義,我首先還是建議您回過身去繼續耐心看畫,沉浸其中地看,如果您堅持要我說出來,請容許我再次引用海德格爾的話,這是他讀了《道德經》之後為闡釋老子而寫下的:


「有死之人的思想必須讓自身沒入深深源泉的黑暗中,以便在白天能看到星星。」


   最後,我希望你可以理解莊子中的這則故事:


 莊子與惠子遊於濠梁之上。莊子曰:「鰷魚出游從容,是魚之樂也。」惠子曰:「子非魚,安知魚之樂?」莊子曰:「子非我,安知我不知魚之樂?」惠子曰:「我非子,固不知子矣;子固非魚也,子之不知魚之樂,全矣。」莊子曰:「請循其本。子曰:『女安知魚樂』云者,既已知吾知之而問我,我知之濠上也。」


參考文獻


[1]馬丁·海德格爾. 藝術作品的本原[A]. 林中路[M]. 孫周興譯. 上海:譯文出版社,2004.


[2]伊曼努爾·康德. 判斷力批判[M]. 鄧曉芒譯. 北京:人民出版社,2002.


[3]Lyotard, Jean-Francois. The Sublime and the Avant-Garde[A]. 見:The Continental Aesthetics Reader[M]. Cazeaux, Clive編. 倫敦:Routledge,2011.


[4]伊曼努爾·康德. 純粹理性批判句讀[M]. 鄧曉芒句讀. 北京:人民出版社,2010.


[5]亞瑟·叔本華. 作為意志和表像的世界[M]. 石沖白譯. 楊一之校. 北京:商務印書館,1982.


[6]馬丁·海德格爾. 《存在與時間》釋義[M]. 張汝倫釋義. 上海:學林出版社,2012.



 

Whence things have their origin:​The meaning of abstract painting and In Between Islands / Chong Fu

但萬物由它產生——抽象繪畫的意義與《無定》/ 傅翀